Tournament: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, February 9-12, 2017
Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links, 6,816 yards, par 72 is the main course, and used exclusively in the final round. Spyglass Hill GC (6,953/72) and Monterey Peninsula CC’s Shore course (6,958/71) also are used in the first three days of pro-am play.
Defending Champion: Vaughn Taylor. Was a successful young golfer 10 years ago, but had recently been toiling away on the mini-tours. Got into the tourney as an alternate, and stormed back from 6 down on the final day, relegating Phil Mickelson to 2nd.
Fun Fact: This is the old Bing Crosby Celebrity Clam Bake, where Hollywood used to come north in droves, play golf during the day and hang around on the beach all night. That was the 1950’s though. They don’t do that kind of stuff anymore.
Television: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
Former 'Dawgs in the Field (Three): Chris Kirk, Kevin Kisner, Brendon Todd.
We are nearing the end of the West Coast Swing, and the end of the celebrity pro-am tournaments. But it is capped off in style, with this week’s Pebble Beach Celebrity Pro-Am. This is the one that real A-listers, or reasonable facsimilies, come out to play and actually beg for an invite. A few names you might recognize:
Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, and Peyton Manning are NFL quarterbacks; Kenny G, Huey Lewis, and Justin Timberlake are musicians; and then there are people like Chris Berman and Bill Belichick. Oh, and a greenskeeper named Carl Spackler, who is sometimes known as Bill Murray.
As noted above, 3 courses are used the first three days because of the number of amateurs playing alongside the pros. That many golfers would take forever to complete a round, so they spread them out to allow everyone to sample each course and to keep it on schedule. The pros are playing for both individual placement as well as their amateur partner team placement. Only a handful of times has a pro won both the professional and team aspect in the same year. And both tourney’s have a cut after the 3rd round, not the 2nd round. The final round is playing solely on the Pebble Beach course.
The courses are good, but this tournament has mixed up the rotation over its long history. Cypress Point, Poppy Hills, and Spanish Bay have been used in years past. But they’ve ironed out all the kinks, and tournament director emeritus Clint Eastwood has settled on the three named above, with Pebble Beach being the crowning jewel. In case you don’t know, Pebble Beach is rated one of the top courses in the country, and literally plays alongside blue water for most of its length. It is shorter than most Tour courses, but has tricky elevation changes, plenty of well-placed trees, undulating greens, and the Pacific Ocean as a water hazard. Scenic yes, but also pretty tough. And worth it to see in person or on TV.
As most of our former ‘Dawgs live on the right side of the United States, few of them are going to travel to play every week in these West Coast tournaments. Not to mention that many of these are “quirky” in either the style of play (desert, resort-style target golf), or the tournament set-up (pro-ams predominant, slow play, raucous crowds). So this week there are only three worth cheering for, and a bit of a surprise to be honest.
Chris Kirk. The currently ranked 80th player in the world, he still has 4 PGA Tour wins and over $14 million in career earnings.
Kevin Kisner. A breakthrough star in 2015, the 48th ranked player in the world had only earned over $1.5 million during his first three years, but has raked in about $3.5 million each of his last two. Quite the jump. Steroids are not rumoured to be the cause.
Brendon Todd. The 32 year old has fallen back to 580th in the world after having spent 2 years inside the top 100. He won twice on the Web.com tour, graduated to the PGA Tour where he immediately made a splash including a win and over $5 million in 2 years. But then 2016 happened… he missed 25 of 29 cuts and lost most of his Tour privileges. I don’t see him playing Web.com this season, so maybe he’s just working on his game and getting in on sponsor’s exemptions and a few other minor tourneys. I wish him well though.
So that’s what we’ve got this week. It will be a mixture of good golf on a tricky course, and horrible golf by jocks, actors, and comedians. And CBS will show plenty of each. If your Falcons hangover will let you watch TV again, and you didn’t poke yourself in the eye with a sharp stick around 10:00 pm ET last Sunday, point your clicker on over to golf and take a nap to the dulcet tones of Jim Nantz and friends.
And as always….