TOUR Insider: Eastwood's star shines brightest at Pebble Beach

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Chris Condon/PGA TOUR
Clint Eastwood, at 82, is still the coolest celebrity at Pebble Beach.
February 06, 2013

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- There are celebrities and then there are celebrities.

Clint Eastwood definitely falls into the latter category and is one of many reasons the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is such a special tournament.

From Bing Crosby to Jack Lemmon to Bill Murray, the rich and famous have always been a part of this event.

They mill around the putting green holding court like something out of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. There’s Kevin Costner. Don Cheadle appears to have lost weight. Huey Lewis never seems to age.

Only Daisy Buchanan is missing from the assembly.

Clint Eastwood is above all that. The man is 82 and still the epitome of cool.

I grew up watching Rowdy Yates and Gil Favor "head ‘em up and move ‘em out." I watched "Dirty Harry" at a drive-in, so I feel like I’ve known Clint Eastwood my entire life.

Everyone wants to hear from the stars on “Celebrity Saturday” at Pebble Beach but Eastwood gives few interviews these days.

Some movie stars you can approach with a smile and hand shake, while others must be stalked.

His Honor was secluded in a television broadcast booth at the 17th tee and each player would stop by to say hello after hitting into the par 3.

Players waited in line to shake Eastwood’s hand, and I waited along with them.

After a persistent two hours, Eastwood left the broadcast tent and came my way for a brief chat on PGA TOUR Radio -- only I realized we were standing on the tee and players were waiting to hit.

Eastwood wasn’t fazed.

Channeling “Dirty Harry”, in a raspy growl, Eastwood said, “Follow me.”

He then disappeared into what appeared to be a hidden tunnel in a nearby hedge. A secret passage of some 10 yards. Eastwood was bent over and breaking off branches like Tarzan on a jungle trail while I followed behind looking at his backside and getting slapped in the face with the broken limbs.

I emerged into bright sunlight, in a stooped posture, with scratches on my face and directly in front of me was the famous silhouette.

Eastwood smiled, squinted his famous scowl and throatily asked, “Now what can I do for you?”

What followed was three minutes of delightful movie and golf discussion.

Eastwood did not need to ask if I "felt lucky."

We are the lucky ones to have enjoyed him and the Monterey Peninsula over the decades.

Observations

Poa: The greens this week can be frustrating. All three courses feature Poa Annua greens. It’s a wonderful putting surface but grows rapidly and unevenly. Late in the day, the greens can get bumpy. Players like to hit their putts firmly to hold the line with traversing those tiny imperfections. That strategy can lead to problems when the boldly struck putt misses because the player now has a four-footer over the same uneven surface. On the other hand, if you nurse your putt to the cup you are not going to make many birdies. Poa Annua greens always create a dilemma.

Posture: Butch Harmon gave Phil Mickelson a lesson last week. His problem was posture. The swing was fine but the set-up was incorrect. Harmon squared Phil to the line and a better swing followed. Jack Nicklaus once said the key success was dedication to alignment. Perhaps 80 per cent of a shot is pre-determined before the club is ever put in motion. It’s said PGA also stands for: position-grip-alignment. The margin of success and failure on the PGA TOUR is so narrow, a simple tweak in posture can make a significant difference.

CGWBA: It was a wonderful Tuesday evening as the Inn at Spanish Bay hosted the California Golf Writers and Broadcasters Association Awards Banquet. How’s this for a lineup? Kay Cockerill, Roger Maltbie and Johnny Miller were inducted into the Northern California Golf Association Hall of Fame. That’s one heck of a Hall of Fame to just now be inducting that trio of champions.

Winner, winner: Dustin Johnson should just about have his batteries recharged. After win to open the season at Hyundai, Johnson withdrew from Sony because of illness and posted a lackluster T51 at the Farmers Insurance Open. He did not play in Scottsdale and has a great track record at Pebble Beach having won twice and nearly capturing a U.S. Open here as well. Dustin Johnson becomes the PGA TOUR’s first two-time winner this season.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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