Course Review Pebble Beach Golf Links
Pebble Beach has been host to some amazing events, including four U.S. Opens and four U.S. Amateurs, and since 1947 has been the main venue for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, formerly called the Crosby Pro-Am (Named after legendary entertainer Bing Crosby). When people talk about the U.S. Opens at Pebble, 1972 comes to mind and Jack Nicklaus' one-iron on the 17th hole that rattled the pin as he defeated Bruce Crampton by three shots. Or, how about the 1982 Open, when Tom Watson denied Nicklaus a fifth Open title when he chipped in on 17 from a somewhat impossible lie after telling his caddie 'I'm going to sink it.' Let's not forget the record performance from Tiger Woods in 2000 when he demolished the field by 15 shots as he equaled the lowest score ever at the 100th edition of the U.S. Open Championship.
REVIEW: Beautiful and breathtaking scenery comes into play when battling Pebble Beach, especially holes seven through 10 and 17 and 18, as they skirt the Pacific. However, Pebble has some holes sprinkled throughout the layout that are 'nice' holes, not great. The first hole is a dogleg right par-4, just 381 yards leading up to a tightly-bunkered green. The second is a straightaway five-par (played as a par-4 for the 2000 Open) that leaves you thinking, what's so special about this course?
The third hole is also a short four, featuring a sliver of a fairway as it bends almost 90-degrees to the left to a small green surrounded by three bunkers and your first glimpse of the ocean. Another somewhat average hole is the fourth at 331 yards. A carry of just 196 yards is needed from the tips, as the ocean skirting the entire right side is played as a lateral hazard. The fifth hole opened in 1999 for play after Nicklaus designed the hole to flank the bluffs of Stillwater Cove. Originally, the fifth played uphill and inland, but Nicklaus did himself proud with his re-routing of this gem. The sixth is an exacting par-5 with the Cove all along the right. After your tee shot down into the valley of the fairway, your second shot must travel up over a steep slope and must be accurately placed to the right of the bunkers, thus leaving yourself with a short approach to this small green that runs from back to front.
The par-3 seventh is where the wind really comes into play. On a calm day, sand wedge is the norm. However, when conditions are blustery, a knock down five-iron could be the call. This hole is one of the most photographed holes in golf. As you move to the eighth, don't forget to check out where the aiming rock is, otherwise you will end up in the ocean. After your drive reaches the top of the plateau, hold your breath, as the view and the shot you need to produce are awe inspiring. The final hole on the front side features an ocean view all along the right side of the fairway. Your drive needs to be long and left, as the fairway slopes towards the water. A deep bunkered gully fronts this windswept green.
Another waterside hole, the 10th at 446 yards, is no pushover, as this fairway also slopes to the right, as does the green, so a properly placed approach is a must. The course returns to average with the uphill, par-4 11th. The oblong green slopes from back to front and tends to be very quick. The 12th is an exacting par-3 with club selection a must to a wide, but shallow green. The uphill, par-4 13th plays longer than the 399 yardage would indicate. A wide fairway target helps off the tee, but don't stray, as a long bunker left and three bunkers right will snare plenty of errant shots.
The par-5 14th is virtually a three-shotter for most mortals (Tiger and Daly excluded). The dogleg right, 573-yard monster must be played with an accurate second shot or your approach will be next to impossible, as the green slopes from left to right and sits behind a menacing bunker. A medium or short iron will set up a birdie possibility on the par-4 15th. Just remember, all putts will move towards the ocean. A ho-hum 3-wood or long iron off the 16th tee will set up medium or short iron approach to a green guarded by bunkers and trees. Putting on this green is the most challenging part of the hole. Back to the ocean for the 17th, as the wind condition will dictate your course of action. A par on this devilish par-3 with an hourglass green will make your day. Chip-in like Watson and who knows, you might be buying drinks at the bar, usually reserved for people making an ace.
The 18th hole is a perfect way to end your round. Hopefully, you'll have to wait on the tee, so you'll be able to absorb the surroundings and what transpired during your round. Sitting on the fence, remembering your birdies, bogeys, Nicklaus pondering his future, this is what golf is all about. With water looming all along the left side, the tee shot must be placed left of the fairway trees some 265 from the box. Your second shot would be ideally located on the left side of the fairway, leaving a nine- iron or less to a green that features putts that tend to fall ocean side. Parring 18 makes everything else seem sublime.
OVERALL: As good as Pine Valley, no way, but a somewhat close runner-up. Course conditioning is always a factor and it affects this course in particular due to the amount of rounds played each year. When playing a seaside venue, you'd love to include rugged elements in the mix. However, a benign sunny day takes the cake. Don't let the price tag ($350 per round) bother you. Pebble Beach is a must!
Phil Sokol writes for the Sports Network, and periodically contributes to GolfChannel.com. Send your thoughts on this article to Phil Sokol at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.
Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.
The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:
The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.
For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.
But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.
Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":
Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.
Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.
The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.
“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.
In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.
“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”
Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.
“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.