Spieth: 'Bring out the smiles' at Pebble Beach
February 10, 2016
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- Jordan Spieth and Jake Owen will team together for the third time at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. (Harry How/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Jordan Spieth would love to win the pro-am competition at this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with his good friend, country music star Jake Owen. Only one thing would be better – if the world’s top-ranked player could win the tournament outright.
“I’d rather take a win and us get second, than us win and me get second,” Spieth said Wednesday.
Owen, sitting next to Spieth, quickly added: “I don’t blame you.”
That’s the usual dynamic between the pros and their amateur partners, especially the celebrities, at this week’s event. The actors, musicians and other athletes provide the unique – and certainly very Californian – flavor, while the troika of courses (host course Pebble Beach, along with Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula) give it another type of star power.
“Guys love coming here for the views, for the courses, for the atmosphere,” Spieth said, noting, “These courses bring out the smiles in everybody.”
At the end of the day, though, it’s still a PGA TOUR event, still a competition amongst the world’s best players. No one forgets that fact, even if your amateur partner is a top-selling musician who just happens to play to a 2 handicap.
“He’s here this week to win for himself and this tournament,” Owen said. “It would be great if we could do it, but I’m just kind of in the shadows, standing back. … I think I stay out of the way enough.”
Spieth is making his fourth start at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He played with Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo in 2013 and tied for 22nd. He and Owen have been partners the last two years, with Spieth producing a pair of top-10 finishes.
Jordan Spieth and Jake Owen talk about "the plaque" before AT&T Pebble Beach
In 2014, he shared the 36-hole lead with Jimmy Walker but shot a third-round 78 at Pebble Beach – with seven three-putts – and eventually finished tied for fourth. He said he’s never worried about Owen or the other amateurs diverting his focus. He and Owen are paired with Dustin Johnson and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky for the three days.
“Jake’s a really good player and he’ll tear up these par 5s out here, which will be a lot of fun,” Spieth said. “So he grinds, he grinds over those 4-footers. He knows I want him to make them as bad as he does. And it kind of adds a little to it, makes you a little happier when they go in.”
What would make him happiest, though, is if he and Owen become the sixth team to pull off the double – winning both the pro portion and the pro-am portion. Defending champion Brandt Snedeker was the last to do so, winning the first of his two AT&T Pebble Beach championships in 2013 while he and amateur Toby Wilt claimed the team portion.
“Attitude on a week like this is huge,” Snedeker said. “You’ve got to have the right attitude. You’ve got to embrace the pro-am format.”
Spieth and Owen have definitely embraced it. You could tell by their banter Wednesday during their joint news conference. Whether it was discussing their bobbleheads or their on-course wagers, for them, the fun has already started.
“Because of the pairings that I’ve had now the last four years,” Spieth said, “how can you not have fun?”
Indeed. On Thursday, though, they’ll start to deal with some serious matters.
Jordan Spieth and Jake Owen talk about their bobbleheads
AVOID THE PANIC BUTTON. Brandt Snedeker is confident he has the proper game plan to succeed on the three courses that make up this tournament’s rotation. Considering he’s won two of the previous three tournaments here, it’s hard to argue with him.
For the first round, he’ll begin his defense at Spyglass Hill, the most difficult of the three courses. He doubts he’ll be in the lead, but that’s fine with him.
“Somebody could go to Monterey or Pebble and shoot 8 under par,” Snedeker said. “I could be quite a bit behind after day one.
“But it’s OK to know that I’ve got a game plan and I’ve done this before and what to expect over the course of four rounds, and not feel like I need to panic or get pressured into doing something I shouldn’t be doing.”
DAY IN CATCH-UP MODE. Since the end of last season’s TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola, Jordan Spieth has made six starts around the world, with one win and five other top 10s; Rory McIlroy has made six starts, with four top 10s; and Rickie Fowler has made seven starts, with one win and three other top 10s.
As for the other member of the world’s top-4 ranked players? Jason Day has made just two starts, and he battled a viral infection two weeks ago while trying to defend his crown at the Farmers Insurance Open.
He feels better now, but he knows he’s behind the rest of the crew at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.
“I know that Jordan’s playing very well right now, Rickie’s playing extremely well right now,” Day said. “Rory just started his campaign across the pond, and I’m the one that is kind of a little bit behind these guys.
“So I’ve got to kind of pick up the slack here and start playing a little bit better.”
THE BIG QUOTEI think it’s even better looking than me. Definitely better looking than Jake.
THREE THOUGHTS ON THE COURSES
• Spyglass Hill is the most difficult of the three courses, but it ranked just 32nd in difficulty among the 52 courses played last season. Pebble Beach ranked 45th and Monterey Peninsula ranked 50th.
• Last season, there were nine courses of less than 7,000 yards in length – including all three courses this week. Pebble Beach is the shortest course on TOUR at 6,816 yards. Monterey Peninsula was at 6,867 yards last year, but thanks to a new tee at No. 4 and a back tee at No. 6, the yardage this year increases to 6,914 yards.
• Pebble Beach makes up for its lack of length with small, difficult greens. It was the only course on TOUR last year that didn’t give up a putt of 50 or more feet, and just 14 percent of putts from between 15 and 20 feet were made, the fewest of any course on TOUR. But as defending champion Brandt Snedeker said, Pebble Beach’s best defense is the weather – and that isn’t expected to be a factor this week.
Who are the best celebrity golfers this week? Check out their registered handicaps, from low to high.
Name (pro partner) Title Handicap Colt Ford (Scott Brown) Musician 2 Jake Owen (Jordan Spieth) Musician 2 Alfonso Ribeiro (William McGirt) Actor 2 Justin Timberlake (Justin Rose) Entertainer 2 Kenny G (Kevin Na) Saxophonist 3 Josh Donaldson (Jason Dufner) Toronto Blue Jays 3B 3 Joe Don Rooney (Kevin Chappell) Musician 5 Aaron Rodgers (Jerry Kelly) Green Bay Packers QB 7 Andy Garcia (Nicholas Thompson) Actor 8 Chris O’Donnell (J.B. Holmes) Actor 8 Tom Dreesen (Brian Stuard) Comedian 9 Josh Duhamel (Ryan Moore) Actor 9 Wayne Gretzky (Dustin Johnson) NHL Hall of Famer 9 Alex Smith (Ben Martin) Kansas City Chiefs QB 9 Huey Lewis (Jarrod Lyle) Musician 9 Clay Walker (Kelly Kraft) Musician 9 Carson Daly (Jason Gore) TV host 10 Kunal Nayyar (Hunter Stewart) Actor 10 Jim Harbaugh (Matt Bettencourt) Michigan football coach 11 Bob Stoops (Rhein Gibson) Oklahoma football coach 12 Bill Murray (D. A. Points) Actor 12 Larry Fitzgerald (Kevin Streelman) Arizona Cardinals WR 14 Mark Wahlberg (Bubba Watson) Actor 14 Steve Young (Luke Donald) Football Hall of Famer 14 Larry the Cable Guy (Tim Herron) Actor/Comedian 15 Condoleezza Rice (Jason Bohn) Political scientist 15 Chris Berman (J.J. Henry) ESPN sportscaster 17 Ray Romano (Sung Kang) Actor/Comedian 17 Thomas Keller (Brooks Koepka) Chef 18 Gary Mule Deer (Andres Gonzales) Comedian 18