Pebble Beach event offers something for everyone

By Associated PressFebruary 11, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. ' Practice rounds at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am are unlike any other on the PGA Tour.
 
Kenny Perry was on the putting green across from the Tap Room, dressed more for the ski slopes than 18 holes at one of the most famous golf courses in the world. The morning chill brought frost with every breath as the 48-year-old Perry meticulously tested a putter that will help with the poa annua greens.
 
Far more casual was the only other player on the green, who stood with hands in his pockets as he watched.
 
Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had just returned from the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. He followed Perry to the first tee, without having been to the range, and without much of a warmup. He pulled driver from his bag.
 
Going long on the first play of the game, Manning said.
 
That he did, although if this were football, the pass would have wound up in the stands.
 
Manning will be playing with Webb Simpson, whose rookie season is off to a solid start, when the golfs greatest celebrity-corporate outing begins Thursday on three courses.
 
For Brad Faxon, Wednesday was just like most other pro-ams on Tour ' he played with four amateurs.
 
That was his choice.
 
His group included Seth Waugh, CEO of Deutsche Bank Americas, and Tom Ryan, chairman and CEO of CVS Caremark Corp.
 
Isnt everyone playing with four amateurs? Faxon asked.
 
There was nothing but amateurs on the first tee later Wednesday, attracting the largest gallery of a glorious day on the Monterey Peninsula. Then again, with respect to Perry and Davis Love III and Fred Couples, these amateurs are a bit more famous ' the celebrity shootout field that included Bill Murray, Justin Timberlake, Kevin James, Huey Lewis and George Lopez, among others.
 
There is star power everywhere, even if that doesnt always include the world ranking.
 
Pebble Beach is doing just fine in that department, too. Its field includes three of the top five players in the world ' Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson and double major winner Padraig Harrington. Perry returned to the top 10 after winning in Phoenix, while Jim Furyk is making his debut after a long winters nap.
 
This is one of the best weeks of the year, Harrington said.
 
He spent the first two days treating practice like the back nine of a major, wrapped up in a fourballs match with fellow Irishman Paul McGinley and their amateur partners, Irish businessmen Dermott Desmond and J.P. McManus.
 
I played matches yesterday, I played a match today, Harrington said on Tuesday. I think my partner is very sensible and hell rest tomorrow. But you know, its probably the best practice round of the year, where you can go out there and have a competitive fourball. It has a lot going for it.
 
Considering the climate ' economical, not meteorological ' Pebble Beach has rarely been so important.
 
It embodies every aspect of the PGA Tour, from entertainment to competition to corporate support. But in recent years, some players view it as the tournament to avoid because of the dodgy weather, bumpy greens and six-hour rounds.
 
I was talking to Hunter Mahan today. He loves to play here, PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said. But he also said, You know, theres no place better to meet people that are good to meet. Theres a ton of people here that make a lot of decisions that relate to investment in the game of golf, investment in players through companies they represent, and thats an important part of what players do.
 
If youre not going to play here every year, its some place youd want to play on a reasonably frequent basis.
 
Finchem spoke to Mahan on the fairways of Pebble Beach, and the commissioner was not in his usual coat-and-tie. He wore soft spikes, a dark sweater with a Whistling Straits logo, and a golf glove.
 
After year of prodding, one of the CEOs at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am includes the PGA Tour commissioner himself.
 
The tour gets five spots in the pro-am each year that it usually gives to corporate partners, and Finchem is using one of those spots. Hell play with Love, who was on the policy board in Finchems first year as commissioner in 1994. The other team will be Mahan and Randall Stephenson, chairman of AT&T.
 
The only mystery was the draw sheet.
 
Finchem and Stephenson were to play the same course rotation as the celebrities (opposite side of the course) ' Spyglass Hill, Poppy Hills, Pebble Beach. But a revised draw sheet on Wednesday had them away from the celebrities (translation: attention) by teeing off Thursday at Pebble Beach.
 
Finchem plays to a handicap of 6.
 
Tim has been working hard on his game the last few weeks, cramming for the final exam, Love said. I keep telling him I only need him on four or five holes; I dont need him all the way around. Its going to be a fun week as always here.
 
Finchem appears to be a legitimate 6 handicap. On the most daunting approach at Pebble, over the cliff to a severe green at No. 8 ' he hit a hybrid to 8 feet.
 
Im delighted that Davis would be happy if I played four or five holes, because thats probably all hell get, Finchem said.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Monterey Peninsula proves it's a golf destination for all types
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    Schauffele just fine being the underdog

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 8:06 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Following a breakthough season during which he won twice and collected the PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Award, Xander Schauffele concedes his sophomore campaign has been less than stellar, but that could all change on Sunday at The Open.

    Schauffele followed a second-round 66 with a 67 on Saturday to take a share of the 9-under-par lead with Jordan Spieth and Kevin Kisner.

    Although he hasn’t won in 2018, he did finish runner-up at The Players and tied for sixth at the U.S. Open, two of the year’s toughest tests.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “Growing up, I always hit it well and played well in tough conditions,” Schauffele said. “I wasn't the guy to shoot 61. I was the guy to shoot like 70 when it was playing really hard.”

    Sunday’s pairing could make things even more challenging when he’ll head out in the day’s final tee time with Spieth, the defending champion. But being the underdog in a pairing, like he was on Saturday alongside Rory McIlroy, is not a problem.

    “All the guys I've talked to said, 'Live it up while you can, fly under the radar,'” he said. “Today I played in front of what you call Rory's crowd and guys were just yelling all the time, even while he's trying to putt, and he had to step off a few times. No one was yelling at me while I was putting. So I kind of enjoy just hanging back and relaxing.”

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    Open odds: Spieth 7/1 to win; Tiger, Rory 14/1

    By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 21, 2018, 7:54 pm

    Only 18 holes remain in the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie, and the man tied atop the leaderboard is the same man who captured the claret jug last year at Royal Birkdale.

    So it’s little surprise that Jordan Spieth is the odds-on favorite (7/4) to win his fourth major entering Sunday’s final round.

    Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner, both tied with Spieth at 9 under par, are next in line at 5/1 and 11/2 respectively. Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, both four shots behind the leaders, are listed at 14/1.

    Click here for the leaderboard and take a look below at the odds, courtesy Jeff Sherman at golfodds.com.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    Jordan Spieth: 7/4

    Xander Schauffele: 5/1

    Kevin Kisner: 11/2

    Tiger Woods: 14/1

    Francesco Molinari: 14/1

    Rory McIlroy: 14/1

    Kevin Chappell: 20/1

    Tommy Fleetwood: 20/1

    Alex Noren: 25/1

    Zach Johnson: 30/1

    Justin Rose: 30/1

    Matt Kuchar: 40/1

    Webb Simpson: 50/1

    Adam Scott: 80/1

    Tony Finau: 80/1

    Charley Hoffman: 100/1

    Austin Cook: 100/1

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    Spieth stands on brink of Open repeat

    By Rex HoggardJuly 21, 2018, 7:49 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Jordan Spieth described Monday’s “ceremony” to return the claret jug to the keepers of the game’s oldest championship as anything but enjoyable.

    For the last 12 months the silver chalice has been a ready reminder of what he was able to overcome and accomplish in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, a beacon of hope during a year that’s been infinitely forgettable.

    By comparison, the relative pillow fight this week at Carnoustie has been a welcome distraction, a happy-go-lucky stroll through a wispy field. Unlike last year’s edition, when Spieth traveled from the depths of defeat to the heights of victory within a 30-minute window, the defending champion has made this Open seem stress-free, easy even, by comparison.

    But then those who remain at Carnoustie know it’s little more than a temporary sleight of hand.

    As carefree as things appeared on Saturday when 13 players, including Spieth, posted rounds of 67 or lower, as tame as Carnoustie, which stands alone as The Open’s undisputed bully, has been through 54 holes there was a foreboding tension among the rank and file as they readied for a final trip around Royal Brown & Bouncy.

    “This kind of southeast or east/southeast wind we had is probably the easiest wind this golf course can have, but when it goes off the left side, which I think is forecasted, that's when you start getting more into the wind versus that kind of cross downwind,” said Spieth, who is tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner at 9 under par after a 6-under 65. “It won't be the case tomorrow. It's going to be a meaty start, not to mention, obviously, the last few holes to finish.”

    Carnoustie only gives so much and with winds predicted to gust to 25 mph there was a distinct feeling that playtime was over.

    As melancholy as Spieth was about giving back the claret jug, and make no mistake, he wasn’t happy, not even his status among the leading contenders with a lap remaining was enough for him to ignore the sleeping giant.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    But then he’s come by his anxiousness honestly. Spieth has spent far too much time answering questions about an inexplicably balky putter the last few weeks and he hasn’t finished better than 21st since his “show” finish in April at the Masters.

    After a refreshingly solid start to his week on Thursday imploded with a double bogey-bogey-par-bogey finish he appeared closer to an early ride home on Friday than he did another victory lap, but he slowly clawed his way back into the conversation as only he can with one clutch putt after the next.

    “I'm playing golf for me now. I've kind of got a cleared mind. I've made a lot of progress over the year that's been kind of an off year, a building year,” said Spieth, who is bogey-free over his last 36 holes. “And I've got an opportunity to make it a very memorable one with a round, but it's not necessary for me to prove anything for any reason.”

    But if an awakened Carnoustie has Spieth’s attention, the collection of would-be champions assembled around and behind him adds another layer of intrigue.

    Kisner, Spieth’s housemate this week on Angus coast, has led or shared the lead after each round this week and hasn’t shown any signs of fading like he did at last year’s PGA Championship, when he started the final round with a one-stroke lead only to close with a 74 to tie for seventh place.

    “I haven't played it in that much wind. So I think it's going to be a true test, and we'll get to see really who's hitting it the best and playing the best tomorrow,” said Kisner, who added a 68 to his total on Day 3.

    There’s no shortage of potential party crashers, from Justin Rose at 4 under after a round-of-the-week 64 to 2015 champion Zach Johnson, who also made himself at home with Spieth and Kisner in the annual Open frat house and is at 5 under.

    Rory McIlroy, who is four years removed from winning his last major championship, looked like a player poised to get off the Grand Slam schneid for much of the day, moving to 7 under with a birdie at the 15th hole, but he played the last three holes in 2 over par and is tied with Johnson at 5 under par. 

    And then there’s Tiger Woods. For three magical hours the three-time Open champion played like he’d never drifted into the dark competitive hole that’s defined his last few years. Like he’d never been sidelined by an endless collection of injuries and eventually sought relief under the surgeon’s knife.

    As quietly as Woods can do anything, he turned in 3 under par for the day and added two more birdies at Nos. 10 and 11. His birdie putt at the 14th hole lifted him temporarily into a share of the lead at 6 under par.

    “We knew there were going to be 10, 12 guys with a chance to win on Sunday, and it's turning out to be that,” said Woods, who is four strokes off the lead. “I didn't want to be too far back if the guys got to 10 [under] today. Five [shots back] is certainly doable, and especially if we get the forecast tomorrow.”

    Woods held his round of 66 together with a gritty par save at the 18th hole after hitting what he said was his only clunker of the day off the final tee.

    Even that episode seemed like foreshadowing.

    The 18th hole has rough, bunkers, out of bounds and a burn named Barry that weaves its way through the hole like a drunken soccer fan. It’s the Grand Slam of hazardous living and appears certain to play a leading role in Sunday’s outcome.

    Perhaps none of the leading men will go full Jean Van de Velde, the star-crossed Frenchman who could still be standing in that burn if not for a rising tide back at the 1999 championship, but if the 499 yards of dusty turf is an uninvited guest, it’s a guest nonetheless.

    It may not create the same joyless feelings that he had when he returned the claret jug, but given the hole’s history and Spieth’s penchant for late-inning histrionics (see Open Championship, 2017), the 18th hole is certain to produce more than a few uncomfortable moments.

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    Wandering photographer costs McIlroy on 16

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 21, 2018, 7:44 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy bogeyed two of his last four holes Saturday to fall four shots off the lead at The Open.

    One of those mistakes might not have entirely been his fault.

    McIlroy missed a short putt on the par-3 16th after a photographer was “in a world all his own,” wandering around near the green, taking photos of the crowd and not paying attention to the action on the green.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It’s fine,” McIlroy said after a third-round 70 put him at 5-under 208, four shots off the lead. “It’s one of those things that happens. There’s a lot of people out there, and it is what it is. It’s probably my fault, but I just didn’t regroup well after it happened.”

    McIlroy also bogeyed the home hole, after driving into a fairway bunker, sending his second shot right of the green and failing to get up and down.

    “I putted well,” he said. “I holed out when I needed to. I just need to make the birdies and try to limit the damage tomorrow.”