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‘Dawgs on Tour: Amateur Hour

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am - Previews Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

When the three weeks of PGA Tour golf include Georgia Bulldogs as defending champion (English - TOC), a former champion who finished 2nd (Henley - Sony), and a winner (Swafford - American Express), it is understandable to expect these performances week in and week out. However the results did not pan out quite as successful in the Farmer’s Open at Torrey Pines. Keith Mitchell and Hudson Swafford both missed the cut by 2 strokes, Greyson Sigg tied for 34th, and Sepp Straka tied for 16th.

So now the Tour slides up the left coast from San Diego County to Monterrey County, just south of San Francisco Bay.

Tournament: Pebble Beach Pro-Am, February 3-6, 2022

Course(s): Pebble Beach: Par 72, 6,972 yards; Spyglass Hill: Par 72, 7,041 yards; Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore): Par 71, 6,957 yards

Purse: $8.7 million total, $1.512 million to the winner.

Defending Champ: Daniel Berger. The FSU Seminole separated himself from Jordan Spieth on Sunday, and held off charges by Stanford Cardinal and son of a billionaire Maverick McNealy as well as UCLA Bruin Patrick Cantlay.

Fun Fact: Since the pro-am format is back in 2022 (pros only in 2021 due to COVID concerns), the tournament takes place over 3 courses, rotating the first 3 days, before making a 54 hole cut and play returning to Pebble Beach for the final Sunday round. Monterrey Peninsula CC is therefore back in the rotation. But in previous years, other courses have been used including Rancho Santa Fe (before moving to Pebble), Cypress Point, Poppy Hills, and Spyglass Hill CC.

TV Times: Thursday-Friday, 3 p.m.-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (Golf Channel), 3 p.m.-6:30 p.m. (CBS). And again, there’s a ton of other coverage on PGA Tour Live via ESPN+.

‘Dawgs in the Field: 7. Brian Harman, Ryuji Imada (!!!), Kevin Kisner, Chris Kirk, Keith Mitchell, Greyson Sigg, Brendon Todd.

The interesting news here is the inclusion of Ryuji Imada. Of Japanese birth, Imada moved to the United States at 14 to focus on golf. His achievements in junior golf got the attention of UGA Men’s Golf Coach Chris Haack who gave him a scholarship and Imada made his next move to Athens. While there, he was instrumental in helping Georgia win the 1999 NCAA Men’s Golf Championship. He turned pro shortly thereafter, with a decent career including some runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour and winning the AT&T Classic in 2008.

Imada failed to keep his PGA Tour card much longer, and did play on the Korn Ferry Tour through the middle of the last decade. But I haven’t seen his name pop up anywhere and honestly I’m not sure how he got into the field this week. But hey... who cares? It’s just another Bulldog playing in a PGA Tour event. And his amateur partner is Thomas Laffont.

I’ve no idea who that is, but there are celebrities in the amateur field, so I’ll give you our Bulldogs teammates for the week and then some other names of note:

Kevin Kisner is playing with amateur Charles Kelley, who is apparently a singer that I’m not familiar with.

Keith Mitchell is paired with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who I am familiar with.

Greyson Sigg is teamed up with Fin Ewing III, because of course he is.

Brian Harman is playing with Kelly Grier.

Brendon Todd has got Pat Battle in his cart (figuratively).

And Chris Kirk partnered with Julie Wirth.

The amateurs must be invited by the tournament committee to play, so while many celebs get an invitation, the other amateurs are influential people or people who used other influential people to get on the list. Here’s a few interesting ones:

Bill Murray Steve Young (QB) Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton) Larry Fitzgerald (WR)
Mookie Betts Macklemore (yep, that one) Mia Hamm (soccer)
Condoleeza Rice (former SecOfState and member of Augusta National)
Don Cheadle (Iron Patriot/War Machine) Andy Garcia (Untouchable)
Ray Romano (annoying) Darius Rucker (Hootie)
Colt Ford (country, and a damn good player)

So there’s your preview and who to cheer for. Enjoy the golf while you lament Tom Crean’s buyout and lay your retirement savings on Matt Stafford to win his first Super Bowl. And as always...