PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- On Tuesday before the Walmart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, John Cook tried his luck on Cypress Point Club, the private, mystical course designed by Alister MacKenzie in 1928.
And luck he had in droves. By the time he reached the famous 16th hole that abuts the Pacific Ocean, Cook was 10-under and staring at a potential 62.
There's only one problem. Former head pro and legend Jim Langley holds a share of the course record at 63. So does Casey Reamer, the current head pro who shot 80 on one day at Cypress Point shortly after taking the job then fired off a 63 the next. There's also one more name you may know who shot 63 there -- some guy named Ben Hogan.
So Cook pulled out a 3-wood and aimed to the right on the par-3, 219-yard16th hole. He didn't quite mean to hit it in the Pacific Ocean -- maybe just hit into the ice plant -- but his shot carromed off the wall and into the waves. He then three-putted the 17th hole and birdied the 18th to shoot 8-under for the day.
"I would have liked to have tied the record but I didn't want to break any record. That's a respect thing. Jim and Casey have the record with Mr. Hogan," Cook said. "I would gladly have tied it but I certainly didn't want to break it.
"We were guests there and it wasn't a tournament and you can't ever break a home course pro's record. That's bad manners. I would have gotten a threatening phone call from my old mentor Ken Venturi if I had done that."
Though he didn't wind up tying the record with his 64, Cook still had fun at Cypress Point, which he calls his favorite course "by far".
The rest of the week didn't go so well for Cook, as he withdrew on Sunday from the tournament due to a neck injury. BURLISON ENDS JUNIOR CAREER WITH A FLOURISH
The 18th hole was teeming with nearly 700 kids from the local The First Tee chapter on Sunday and they got a special treat. One of their own, Sydney Burlison out of Salinas, Calif., became the first female junior to win the pro/junior event.
She's no ordinary junior, though. In a few weeks, she'll start school at Stanford and play for the golf team. She's traveled throughout the country and the world to play in golf events and has teed it up at the Walmart First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in four of the five years.
"This one tops everything by far," she said, after winning the event at 25-under-par with partner Fuzzy Zoeller.
"It was really great. We ham-and-egged it out there. I didn't play perfect, far from it. We both made a lot of birdies and birdied different holes....It was really fun. Never been able to do that with a best ball partner before."
Zoeller was equally as impressed with Burlison, whom he's played with before and watched mature into a college-bound 18-year-old.
"It's wonderful to see the improvements she's made over years, the advancements with golf course management. It's been fun to watch," Zoeller said. "From getting her accuracy down, knowing how far each club goes, to her chipping and putting (which are) greatly improved. She's changed her swing a little bit. I've seen drastic improvements in her game from hard work, confidence and determination."
This was Burlison's last event as a junior golfer and she couldn't have capped it off better.
"I wanted to go out here and have fun in my last junior event ever. It's incredible to be out here, saying goodbye to all the people I love," she said.
With Burlison, though, it hardly seems like an ending. In fact, this is probably just the beginning.
THE TRADITION CONTINUES
They're ready for the 2010 U.S. Open here at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Though the tournament is still 655 days away, the gift shop is loaded with tee shirts, sweatshirts, hats, head covers, golf balls, sweater vests, crystal pieces and anything else you can think of that could be stamped with the 2010 logo.
Tournament guests, First Tee juniors and tourists mill about the huge section of the shop devoted to the U.S. Open merchandise and eventually settle on a few items out of the vast selection.
After all, this is going to be a big deal. One shirt puts it all into perspective with the words "The Tradition Continues". It then has the logos from each of the four past U.S. Opens at Pebble Beach on the back with the names of the former Open champions underneath each.
No wonder people are snatching up the merchandise early. Anything for a small piece of history. MURRAY UP TO USUAL ANTICS
What would a tournament at Pebble Beach be without Bill Murray?
He wished partner Scott Simpson "Good luck" almost in his backswing. He assures the crowd that Simpson never, ever misses putts of that length as Simpson stands over a 10-footer. He signed one fan's forehead as "George Lopez".
It's all in good fun, but being a junior golfer and playing on national TV with Murray could be intimidating, right?
Not to Wally Gonzalez, who was paired with him on Saturday. He knew it might be hard to concentrate when Murray was his partner, but Gonzalez embraced his fate and tugged on a "Billy Beret" golf hat with a flag and moveable golf ball perched on top.
Gonzalez found out about the pairing on Wednesday morning.
"My parents and all of my friends were excited. My mom was screaming in the car, 'We're playing with Bill Murray,'" he said.
Murray bestowed the nickname "GoGo" on Gonzalez, which was reminiscent of the "BoBo" nickname he gave to junior partner Robert Carter two years ago. Murray explained the meaning behind the moniker.
"Well, his name is Wally Gonzalez but the ladies call him GoGo. We just thought we'd keep him feeling good about himself all day and remind him of the effect he has on women all over Southern California and now Central California," Murray joked about his teenage partner. "When he hears GoGo, he stands up taller and hits it farther."
As for his own game, Murray struggled on the first day at Del Monte -- he was paired with his friend Jeff Sluman and junior Michael Guardiola on Friday -- but said his score was much lower on Saturday at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
"I played much better today and I'd like to give all the credit to GoGo. I was nothing yesterday. I played with a horrible kid named Mike. I hate him to this day. That kid, I resent him and disrespect him and I will visit his grave just to make sure he's dead because I played terribly and I blame it on Mike," Murray joked. "But today I played great and I give all the credit to GoGo."
Just in case that quote got, er, lost in translation, Murray was kidding, just like he always is. And the fans at Pebble Beach, whom Murray even joined in the crowd on Sunday at Pebble Beach when he followed pals Scott Simpson and Sluman, loved it.