Punch Shot: Which celebrity would you want to play with at Pebble Beach?

By Jason SobelFebruary 6, 2013, 5:40 pm

This week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is one of the coolest spectacles in sports, pairing the world's greatest golfers with A-list celebrities from several different walks of life. But if you could only choose one celebrity playing partner, who would it be? GolfChannel.com makes their picks for the week on Monterey Peninsula’s premier golf courses.


Like most questions, I can take this one a lot of different ways.

Do I want a celeb with whom I could be starry-eyed and hang on his every word? If so, give this New England Patriots fan Bill Belichick and watch as I wear out the word “genius” over the course of 54 holes.

Do I want a celeb with whom I have a prior relationship? For years, I was one of Chris Berman’s producers at ESPN. Teeing it up with Boomer would ensure plenty of laughs and I think he’d help shake any nerves that I might have standing on the first tee at Pebble.

Do I want a celeb with whom I can win the tournament? Umm, in that case, can’t Phil Mickelson be called a celeb? I’ll pair with him and reap the benefits – even if he does have to play as a plus-6 handicap for the week.

In the end, though, I think I’d decide to be less fan, friend or competitor and continue my usual role of reporter. To me, that means pegging it with the best story in the field – recently named Augusta National member Condoleezza Rice.

Just think: After three days slogging it around the peninsula with Condi, I’d have enough material to fill a week’s worth of Masters preview content. And that’s better than winning the pro-am anyway. Or at least, that’s what I’m gonna let my bosses think.


Carson Daly.

For people of a certain age, the former host of MTV’s Total Request Live played a prominent role in our formative years. Daly and his spectacularly gelled hair came into our living rooms every afternoon, from 3:30 to 5:30, and answered all of our most pressing questions.

Important questions – crucial information – such as: What’s up with Britney and Justin? Is her next music video even more scandalous than the last?

Which activist group has Eminem upset now? Will my mom let me buy his latest CD?

Which boy band will make me least nauseas today?

Which rock group is more head-bangingly awesome, Limp Bizkit or Korn?

And there was Daly, in the middle of it all, counting us down from 10 to 1, interviewing the most mentally unstable musicians in the industry.

He’s older now – 39 years old, if you can believe it – and the innocence is lost. Maybe it’s because he has a talk show I’ve never seen. Maybe it’s because he dated Tara Reid.

Whatever the case, those simpler, happier times won’t soon be forgotten. One day, perhaps, I’ll finally be able to thank him.


Give me 18 holes with Ray Romano.

My wife is a fan who falls asleep every night watching re-runs of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” It’s like the Barones are our neighbors. We know more about Ray, Debra, Robert, Frank and Marie than we know about our actual neighbors. So give me five hours with Ray Romano, whom I met after his pro-am round at the Kraft Nabisco two years ago. What immediately struck me is that he must not have had to act much in his popular sitcom, because he always seems to be in character. He was off-the-cuff funny after his round with Paula Creamer.

“He’s a funny guy, and it’s like he’s not even trying,” Creamer said that day.


Wayne Gretzky.

Rarely do you get the opportunity to tee it up with a living legend in any sport, so I’m jumping at the chance to play alongside The Great One.

While it perhaps puts me in the minority among American sports fans, I still care about hockey. A chance to stroll the fairways and chat with Gretzky about his prolific years in Edmonton and his central role in perhaps the biggest sports trade of the last 30 years would be truly unique. It might require toeing a fine line, but I could perhaps also get some insight into how Dustin Johnson, daughter Paulina’s new beau, acted when meeting he and wife Janet for the first time. Surely that was a rendezvous that goes down in the 'Meet the Parents' Hall of Fame.

Speaking of Janet … even though it would likely earn me little more than a stern glare, I couldn’t miss a chance to ask Wayne if his wife, having been named years ago as the centerpiece of a large sports gambling ring, has any 'locks' for the upcoming season. Worst he could say is no…right?

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Winning on Kerr's mind this week and beyond

By Randall MellMarch 24, 2018, 2:11 am

Cristie Kerr moved into position Friday to do more than win the 21st LPGA title of her career.

She moved into position to claim an LPGA Hall of Fame point this week.

Yes, winning is foremost on her mind at the Kia Classic, where she took the lead with an 8-under-par 64 in the second round, she’s on a larger quest, too.

After turning 40 last fall, Kerr was asked what her goals are.

“The Hall of Fame is attainable, if I stick with it,” she said.

Kerr is five shots ahead of Lizette Salas (67), In-Kyung Kim (69), Hee Young Park (70) and Caroline Hedwall (70).

It’s a good time for Kerr to get on a hot streak, with the year’s first major championship, the ANA Inspiration, next week. She has long been one of the best putters in the women’s game, but her ball-striking is impressive this week. She hit 17 greens in regulation Thursday, and she hit 16 on Friday.

“I like winning,” Kerr said. “I like challenging myself. Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older, with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, `Man, why does my hamstring hurt?’ From working around this hilly golf course.”

Kerr acknowledged Friday that her body is more vulnerable to time’s realities, but her mind isn’t.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

“The golf ball doesn't know an age,” Kerr said. “I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.”

Kerr won two weeks after her 40th birthday last fall, boosting her LPGA Hall of Fame point total to 22. She is five points short of eligibility for induction. A player earns one point for an LPGA victory and two points for a major championship title. So there’s a lot of Hall of Fame ground to gain this week and next.

It’s a long-term goal that motivates Kerr to take care of her body.

“I don't think the golf changes,” Kerr said. “I think, physically, it gets harder as you get older. Like I said, I've got tape on my hamstring. I strained it, just a little bit yesterday, walking around this golf course. It's tough as you get older, just being fresh and rested. I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.”

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Big names chasing Kerr into the weekend at Kia Classic

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 1:55 am

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Cristie Kerr shot an 8-under 64 on Friday in the Kia Classic to take a five-stroke lead into the weekend.

The 40-year-old Kerr had eight birdies in her second straight bogey-free round to reach 13-under 131 at rain-softened Aviara.

''I like winning. I like challenging myself,'' Kerr said. ''Definitely doesn't get any easier as you get older with the travel and recovery time. I got up this morning and I'm like, 'Man, why does my hamstring hurt?' From working around this hilly golf course. The golf ball doesn't know an age. I've always said that. As long as I stay hungry, going to just keep playing.''

She has 20 LPGA victories, winning at Aviara in 2015. She won twice last year and helped the U.S. beat Europe in her ninth Solheim Cup appearance.

''It's tough as you get older just being fresh and rested,'' Kerr said. ''I put more focus into that as I've gotten older. I still practice, but off the course I try to get more rest.''

Lizette Salas, In-Kyung Kim, Hee Young Park and Caroline Hedwall were tied for second. Salas shot 67, Kim 69, and Park and Hedwall 70.

''I really like this golf course. I really like the environment,'' said Salas, the former University of Southern California player from Azusa. ''My family gets to come out. So much confidence at the beginning of the week, and definitely showed the first two days.

Jeong Eun Lee was 7 under after a 69, and defending ANA champion So Yeon Ryu had a 70 to get to 6 under.

Full-field scores from the Kia Classic

Ariya Jutanugarn (72), Brooke Henderson (70) and 2016 winner Lydia Ko (71) were 5 under. Shanshan Feng (68) was another stroke back, and Singapore winner Michelle Wie (72) was 1 under.

Lexi Thompson was 2 over after a 74, making the cut on the number in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week at Mission Hills.

Kerr opened with birdies on the par-5 10th and par-3 11th, added birdies on the par-4 16th, 18th and second, and ran off three in a row on the par-3 sixth, par-4 seventh and par-5 eighth.

''I don't think you can fall asleep on one shot,'' Kerr said. ''It's a really good golf course. I think I play better on courses that demand the focus, so I think that's why I've played well here in the past. ... I'm trying not to put limits on myself right now. I've got some good things going on with my swing.''

She has long been one best putters and green-readers in the world.

''I can see the subtleties that a lot of people can't,'' Kerr said. ''It's a gift from God being able to do that. I've always had that, so I'm lucky.''

Laura Davies withdrew after an opening 82. The 54-year-old Davies tied for second last week in the Founders Cup in Phoenix, playing through painful left Achilles and calf problems.

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DJ hits 489-yard drive, but it doesn't count for history

By Rex HoggardMarch 24, 2018, 12:22 am

AUSTIN, Texas – Dustin Johnson is no stranger to big drives, but even for DJ this one was impressive.

Trailing in his Day 3 match at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, Johnson launched a drive at the par-5 12th hole that traveled 489 yards, but that number comes with an asterisk.

“He got lucky it hit the road,” smiled Kevin Kisner, who was leading the world No. 1, 3 up, at the time. “I thought he would make an eagle for sure, he only had 80 yards [to the hole]. He didn’t hit a very good putt.”

WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play: Full bracket | Scoring | Group standings

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Johnson’s drive, which was 139 yards past Kisner’s tee shot, is the longest recorded on the PGA Tour in the ShotLink era, surpassing Davis Love III’s drive of 476 yards in 2004 at the Tournament of Champions.

The drive will not go into the record books, however, because the Tour doesn’t count statistics from the Match Play.

It should also be noted, Kisner halved the 12th hole with a birdie and won the match, 4 and 3, to advance to the round of 16.

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Durant leads Champions event in Mississippi

By Associated PressMarch 24, 2018, 12:21 am

BILOXI, Miss. - Joe Durant had three straight birdies in a back-nine burst and a shot 6-under 66 on Friday to take the first-round lead in the PGA Tour Champions' Rapiscan Systems Classic.

Durant birdied the par-4 11th and 12th and par-5 13th in the bogey-free round at breezy and rain-softened Fallen Oak. Because of the wet conditions, players were allowed to lift, clean and place their golf balls in the fairway.

''It just sets up nice to my eye,'' Durant said. ''It's a beautiful golf course and it's very challenging. The tee shots seem to set up well for me, but the greens are maybe as quick as I've ever seen them here. You really have to put the ball in the right spots. I played very nice today. With the wind swirling like it was, I'm really happy.''

He won the Chubb Classic last month in Naples, Florida, for his third victory on the 50-and-over tour.

Full-field scores from the Rapiscan Systems Classic

''Done this long enough, Friday's just one day,'' Durant said. ''Especially in a three-day tournament, you've got to go out and shoot three good numbers. Fortunate to put one on the board, but I know I have to back it up with a couple of good days because you can get passed very quickly out here.''

Mark Calcavecchia was a stroke back. He won last month in Boca Raton, Florida

''It's probably my best round I've ever had here and it was a tough day to play,'' Calcavecchia said. ''The greens are just lightning fast. They're pretty slopey greens, so very difficult to putt.''

Steve Stricker was third at 68. He took the Tucson, Arizona, event three weeks ago for his first senior victory.

''Just getting it around and managing my game I think like I always do,'' Stricker said. ''You get in the wrong position here with the greens being so fast and you're going to be in trouble. I did that a couple times today.''

Billy Mayfair, Billy Andrade and David McKenzie shot 69. Jerry Kelly, the winner of the season-opening event in Hawaii, was at 70 with Wes Short Jr., Glen Day, Gene Sauers and Jesper Parnevik.

Bernhard Langer opened with a 71, and two-time defending champion Miguel Angel Jimenez had a 72.

Vijay Singh, coming off his first senior victory two weeks ago in Newport Beach, California, had a 73.