About that title. Please forgive me Rene’, but it came to mind. Because there is no tournament more associated with the moniker “Pro-Am” than this one. Pebble Beach in February, the Crosby, the ol’ Clam Bake. And if you take the “Am” out, you’re just left with the “Pro”. Which might not be a bad thing.
In every other iteration of this tournament, each eligible pro golfer has an amateur partner for the week. The pros are playing not only for individual glory (titles, money, FedEx Cup points, exemptions, etc.), but they are playing with their amateur in a tourney within a tourney - the team title. The cut was after 54 holes (3 rounds) to allow Saturday TV cameras and eyeballs to get video of every popular celebrity, even if they had no chance of making the cut. If the pro makes the individual cut but his team doesn’t make the team cut, he plays solo in the final round. So there are some weird pairings out there on Sunday in normal years. And 6 hour rounds thanks to crappy amateurs.
Welcome COVID. Due to the pandemic, the amateur portion has been canceled this year and we are left with 156 pros, and pros only. This should shave off at least an hour from the rounds, and also reduces the number of courses in play from 3 to 2 (see below). It also means no Bill Murray on the weekend, no Alice Cooper, no Wayne Gretsky, no Kenny G., no Ray Romano, and no Josh Duhamel. It’s an eclectic bunch to say the least Again, this might not be a bad thing on the whole.
Even with changing the format to a typical PGA Tour feel, many top pros are skipping this week. Tiger Woods hasn’t played this thing in like 20 years. Last week’s winner Brooks Koepka decided to take a break. There are a few big names, but few of the top 10. There were so many players skipping that the Tournament Committee started handing out invites on the 17-Mile Drive. They have 4 players over 50 years old (Mickelson, Lehman, Furyk, and John Daly). Matt Gogel hasn’t had Tour status since 2008, but he’s in the field.
So we don’t have the celebrities and the field is weak compared to most PGA Tour events. I guess I’ll quit building up the suspense so much and give you the details you crave.
Tournament: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, February 11-14, 2021
Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links (6,867 yards, par 71), Spyglass Hill Golf Course (6,858 yards, par 72). In years past, a third course was in the rotation because each pro was paired with a celebrity for the first three rounds, and each course was played once before the 54 cut was made and the finalists played Pebble Beach for the final round. With no amateurs, there’s not as much need to spread the field out so they eliminated the third course (of late it has been Monterrey Peninsula).
Purse: $7,800,000 total; $1,404,000 for the winner
Defending Champ: Nick Taylor. The maple syrup-licker from Canada got his 2nd Tour win by hanging on and watching Phil Mickelson implode. That’s all I have to say about that.
Fun Fact: This tournament, originally the Bing Crosby Pro-Amateur, became one of the most popular tournaments on the West Coast. The format became so popular, it was eventually copied by Bob Hope, Glen Campbell, Jackie Gleason, Sammy Davis Jr., Danny Thomas, and Andy Williams. True story.
TV Times: With football now over for the next 6 months, the Columbia Broadcasting System will start to slowly make it’s way back into golf. Other than March Madness, and I’m not laying any money down on that one. Thurs-Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel); Sat-Sun, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel). Saturday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
‘Dawgs in the Field: 3. Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Keith Mitchell.
So that’s who to root for. And maybe in a weird, down year, one of our boys can punch their way into the winner’s circle. As always...