Pebble Beachs beauty unparalleled

By Doug FergusonJune 20, 2010, 12:03 am

2010 U.S. Open

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It is among the most famous datelines in golf, right up there with St. Andrews and Augusta. Jack Nicklaus has always that if he could only play one more round, this is where he would go.

Indeed, there is something special about the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Ian Poulter had seen it on television when he watched Tiger Woods blow away the field in 2000, and the odd time the Englishman tuned in to watch the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. He felt as if he knew the course from video games he once played.

But his first trip to the famed course on the Monterey Peninsula exceeded expectations. He spoke about Pebble Beach the way so many players speak about Augusta National.

“When you finally get here and actually see how they have sculptured the holes around the ocean, it’s pretty amazing,” Poulter said. “There’s a lot of undulation, which you don’t expect, and you don’t pick that up from TV. It just blew me away. I just felt it was probably the best golf course I’ve ever played so far.”

Perhaps that’s why the USGA announced – even before the first shot of the week – that the U.S. Open would return to Pebble Beach in 2019, to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the fabled resort. Officials usually wait until after the tournament for such a decision, just to make sure everything goes off without a hitch. Pebble, though, is as close to a sure thing as there is in golf.

“One of the most treasured spots in all of golf,” USGA president Jim Hyler said.

Of the two American majors that move around the country, no other golf course has produced such a list of winners – Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tom Kite and Tiger Woods. Perhaps that trend will continue this year, with Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els among those within striking distance going into the weekend.

For scenery? There is nothing like it.

And the golf is unlike most U.S. Open courses, especially when the conditions get firm and bouncy.

“It’s got that look in a way of links golf,” Ernie Els said. “And it’s almost like links golf on steroids, with the rough and the grass around the bunkers. I really like the setup. The ball runs, which I like.”

On the other side of the Atlantic, where golf was invented, it is often said of the game’s oldest championship that there is the British Open, and there is the British Open at St. Andrews.

Is that the case here?

Is there the U.S. Open, and the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach?

“Probably not,” Nicklaus said recently. “From my standpoint, I’ve won at Oakmont, Baltusrol (twice) and Pebble Beach. All three of those venues are great. Pebble Beach is … I’ve always said if I had one round of golf to play, I’d probably to go Pebble Beach. It’s more special than the others from that standpoint.”

Along with the majestic views, there are a half-dozen holes that standout. The par-3 seventh, which on Saturday became the first U.S. Open hole to measure under 100 yards, juts out into the pacific. The grandstands above that hole were filled eight hours before the leaders even teed off. Then comes the three-hole stretch of par 4s along the Pacific, which longtime golf journalist Dan Jenkins’ once jokingly labeled “Abalone Corner” in a spinoff from Amen Corner at Augusta National.

The second shot on No. 8 goes over a 60-foot cliff, travels across a corner of the Pacific and up a bluff toward the green. The next two holes run along the shore, and it is not unusual to see players try to play off the beaches of Carmel back up to the course.

The par-5 14th, which is inland, is getting more attention than any other hole at Pebble this week because of the diabolical nature of the green. It falls off severely to the right, and a steep shelf sends balls back off the green into the fairway. Par 5s are supposed to be birdie opportunities. This one is playing to an average score of about 5.5 this week.

History comes at the par-3 17th. Players step on the tee and think about Nicklaus and his 1-iron that hit the flag in 1972. They get to the green and think about Watson, who chipped in for birdie to win in 1982.

And then comes the signature 18th, a par 5 along the ocean. For all its beauty, it has yet to decide a U.S. Open.

But that’s what makes all this so surprising. For all the history and acclaim of Pebble Beach, it is hosting only its fifth U.S. Open. Oakmont has held the U.S. Open eight times, and also has a strong list of winners from Ben Hogan to Nicklaus to Johnny Miller. Baltusrol in northern New Jersey has had seven of them.

What took the USGA so long to find this gem?

Pebble hosted the first of four U.S. Amateurs in 1929, when Bobby Jones was upset in the first round by Johnny Goodman. When the U.S. Amateur returned in 1947, USGA president Charles W. Littlefield said, “Let’s hold ‘em all here.”

Jones never had a chance to play the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Neither did Hogan, Sam Snead or Byron Nelson. It wasn’t until 1972, when Nicklaus was at the height of his career, that the USGA decided to bring its premier championship to the peninsula.

It was all about location.

“In 1972, that marked the first time the U.S. Open wandered away from a metropolitan area,” USGA executive director David Fay said. “We had championships before then, obviously. But we had had always played the Open in a metro area, whether that was New York or Fort Worth or even Tulsa. And the next time we wandered away from a metro area was Pinehurst in 1999. Interestingly, they’re both resorts.”

If there was any concern that the fans wouldn’t come, those have been dismissed. People have come from all corners of the country, and even the world, for a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

“Visually and architecturally and in every other respect, it’s a special place,” Fay said. “The heart pumps a little quicker.”

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Twitter spat turns into fundraising opportunity

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 6:30 pm

Country music star Jake Owen, along with Brandt Snedeker, has turned a spat on Twitter into a fundraising campaign that will support Snedeker’s foundation.

On Thursday, Owen was criticized during the opening round of the Tour’s Nashville Golf Open, which benefits the Snedeker Foundation, for his poor play after opening with an 86.

In response, Snedeker and country singer Chris Young pledged $5,000 for every birdie that Owen makes on Friday in a campaign called NGO Birdies for Kids

Although Owen, who is playing the event on a sponsor exemption, doesn’t tee off for Round 2 in Nashville until 2 p.m. (CT), the campaign has already generated interest, with NBC Sports/Golf Channel analyst Peter Jacobsen along with Tour player Zac Blair both pledging $100 for every birdie Owen makes.

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Noren so impressed by Rory: 'I'm about to quit golf'

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 25, 2018, 5:33 pm

Alex Noren won the BMW PGA Championship last year, one of his nine career European Tour victories.

He opened his title defense at Wentworth Club in 68-69 and is tied for fourth through two rounds. Unfortunately, he's five back of leader Rory McIlroy. And after playing the first two days alongside McIlroy, Noren, currently ranked 19th in the world, doesn't seem to like his chances of back-to-back wins.

McIlroy opened in 67 and then shot a bogey-free 65 in second round, which included pars on the pair of par-5 finishing holes. Noren walked away left in awe.

"That's the best round I've ever seen," Noren said. "I'm about to quit golf, I think."

Check out the full interview below:

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Bubba gets to drive dream car: K.I.T.T. from 'Knight Rider'

By Grill Room TeamMay 25, 2018, 4:42 pm

Bubba Watson is a known car aficionado.

He purchased the original General Lee from the 1980’s TV show “Dukes of Hazzard” – later saying he was going to paint over the Confederate flag on the vehicle’s roof.

He also auctioned off his 1939 Cadillac LaSalle C-Hawk custom roadster and raised $410,000 for Birdies for the Brave.

He showed off images of his off-road Jeep two years ago.

And he even bought a car dealership near his hometown of Milton, Fla.

While recently appearing on the TV show “Jay Leno’s Garage,” the former “Tonight Show” host surprised Watson with another one of his dream cars: K.I.T.T.

The 1982 Pontiac Trans Am was made famous in the ‘80s action show “Knight Rider.”

Though, Bubba didn’t get to keep this one, he did get to drive it.

Bubba Watson gets behind the wheel of his dream car—the KITT from Knight Rider from CNBC.

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Cut Line: USGA readies for Shinnecock 'mulligan'

By Rex HoggardMay 25, 2018, 3:26 pm

In this week’s Memorial weekend edition, the European team adheres to the Ryder Cup secret formula, the USGA readies for the ultimate mulligan at next month’s U.S. Open and a bizarre finish at the Florida Mid-Am mystifies the Rules of Golf.

Made Cut

Cart golf. When the U.S. side announced the creation of a Ryder Cup task force following the American loss at Gleneagles in 2014, some Europeans privately – and publicly – snickered.

The idea that the secret sauce could be found in a meeting room did stretch the bounds of reason, yet two years later the U.S. team emerged as winners at Hazeltine National and suddenly the idea of a task force, which is now called a committee, didn’t seem so silly.

To Europe’s credit, they’ve always accomplished this cohesion organically, pulling together their collective knowledge with surprising ease, like this week when European captain Thomas Bjorn rounded out his vice captain crew.

Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Luke Donald (a group that has a combined 47-40-13 record in the matches) were all given golf cart keys and will join Robert Karlsson as vice captains this year in Paris.

Perhaps it took the Americans a little longer to figure out, but Bjorn knows it’s continuity that wins Ryder Cups.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

The USGA’s mulligan. The U.S. Open is less than a month away and with it one of the most anticipated returns in recent major championship history.

The last time the national championship was played at Shinnecock Hills was in 2004 and things didn’t go well, particularly on Sunday when play had to be stopped to water some greens that officials deemed had become unplayable. This week USGA executive director Mike Davis was asked about the association’s last trip to the Hamptons and, to his credit, he didn’t attempt to reinvent history.

“Looking back at 2004, and at parts of that magnificent day with Retief (Goosen) and Phil Mickelson coming down to the end, there are parts that we learned from,” Davis said. “I’m happy we got a mulligan this time. We probably made a bogey last time, maybe a double bogey.”

Put another way, players headed to next month’s championship should look forward to what promises to be a Bounce Back Open.

Tweet of the week:

Homa joined a chorus of comments following Aaron Wise’s victory on Sunday at the AT&T Byron Nelson, which included an awkward moment when his girlfriend, Reagan Trussell, backed away as Wise was going in for a kiss.

“No hard feelings at all,” Wise clarified this week. “We love each other a ton and we're great. It was a funny moment that I think we'll always be able to look back at, but that's all it really was.”

Missed Cut

Strength of field. The European Tour gathers this week in England for the circuit’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, and like the PGA Tour’s marquee stop, The Players, the event appears headed for a new spot on the calendar next year.

As the PGA Tour inches closer to announcing the 2018-19 schedule, which will feature countless new twists and turns including the PGA Championship’s move to May and The Players shift back to March, it also seems likely the makeover will impact the European Tour schedule.

Although the BMW PGA currently draws a solid field, with this week’s event sporting a higher strength of field than the Fort Worth Invitational on the PGA Tour, it’s likely officials won’t want to play the event a week after the PGA Championship (which is scheduled for May 16-19 next year).

In fact, it’s been rumored that the European Tour could move all eight of its Rolex Series events, which are billed as “unmissable sporting occasions,” out of the FedExCup season window, which will end on Aug. 25 next year.

Although the focus has been on how the new PGA Tour schedule will impact the U.S. sports calendar, the impact of the dramatic makeover stretches will beyond the Lower 48.

Rules of engagement. For a game that at times seems to struggle with too much small print and antiquated rules, it’s hard to understand how things played out earlier this month at the Florida Mid-Amateur Championship.

In a story first reported by, Jeff Golden claimed he was assaulted on May 13 by Brandon Hibbs – the caddie for his opponent, Marc Dull, in the championship’s final match. Golden told police that Hibbs struck him because of a rules dispute earlier in the round. Hibbs denied any involvement, and police found no evidence of an attack.

The incident occurred during a weather delay and Golden conceded the match to Dull after the altercation, although he wrote in a post on Twitter this week that he was disappointed with the Florida State Golf Association’s decision to accept his concession.

“The FSGA has one job, and that’s to follow the Rules of Golf,” Golden wrote. “Unfortunately, there’s no rule for an inebriated ‘ex-caddie’ punching a player in a match-play rain delay with no witnesses.”

Because of the conflicting statements, it’s still not clear what exactly happened that day at Coral Creek Club, but the No. 1 rule in golf – protecting the competition and the competitors – seems to have fallen well short.