Stricker, the two-time defending champion, said Illini Day should give him a boost, but admitted that that the support might also put pressure on him.
"You know, it can work both ways," he said. "If you're going well, you know, you can really ride that momentum. If you're playing poorly, you know, you feel like you're dragging everybody down with you. So it's hard. You want to play well and there's that little extra bit of pressure, but it's good to have that support."
Stricker also said Wednesday at the John Deere Classic that he will not be putting Titleist's new irons in play this week.
"I hit them and I really liked them, but I want to hit them some more at home, so probably after the British I'll give them some more time to hit," he said.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Earlier in the week, Travelers kicked off its “Chipping Challenge” here at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, where fans can take part in an interactive experience that includes taking a shot at a floating umbrella in the shape of the Travelers logo.
For every hole-in-one made there, Travelers will donate $100 to Camp Boggy Creek, Florida’s Hole in the Wall Camp, which is part of a group of non-profit residential summer camps serving children and families coping with cancer and other serious illnesses. Every fan who makes a hole-in-one will also receive an iPod shuffle or Titleist wedge.
In addition, D.A. Points will host a clinic there at 2:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
“Any time that we can raise money for [the Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital], I always try to be involved,” said Points, whose nephew Carson was treated there for neuroblastoma, which is one of the worst but curable cancers for children. “I've donated some of my own money, my wife and I have, and you know, it's nice that Travelers is doing this to help raise money for Mr. Palmer's hospital.”
D.A. Points turned in the wedge shot of the year so far on TOUR at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, using a 52-degree Ping Tour-W wedge for his Sunday holeout eagle on the 14th at Pebble.
Suffice to say, his gap wedge delivered better last week than he remembered on a similar shot a few years prior.
“It was a couple years ago, I was playing pretty well here and I was in the Top-10 and I was making a lot of
birdies,” Points said. “I came down there and I had a gap wedge, similar kind of shot and I spun it left off the green and rolled down the hill under the tree and I made double bogey.
“Most of the time we are worried about putting too much spin on it. This year we are trying to get as much spin on it so we can hold it up there.”
-- Speaking of ball spin, Nike introduced a new TOUR-level golf ball Tuesday, the 20XI. The conventional rubber core is replaced with a resin core, engineered to produce more distance and control. Nike says the ball has perimeter weighting between the lighter core and heavier outer layers.
The ball, which comes in distance and spin models, is being used by Stephen Ames, Stewart Cink, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim, Justin Leonard, Jamie Lovemark, Francesco Molinari and Carl Pettersson, among others.
Whether Tiger Woods switches to the 20XI remains to be seen, though he is said to be considering it. He still plays the Nike Tour One.
-- Golfweek’s Gene Yasuda writes that Wilson Golf spent $4 million on research and development last year – five times what it spent five years ago – in order to help implement to a two-year product cycle. The company’s marketing message has been simplified, touting 61 major championships won with Wilson irons, and Kevin Streelman has been added to a stable of TOUR pros that includes Ricky Barnes and Padraig Harrington.
Wilson posted an entertaining YouTube video of commercial outtakes including Barnes. Look for the wedge-bouncing ball trick, similar to the old Woods Nike commercial, here.
-- What was in amateurs’ bags at the AT&T? TaylorMade said its R11 was the No. 1 driver, with 24 in play.
Bill Murray won the Pro-Am with new Titleist Vokey wedges. Check out the BM stamps on his custom clubs here .
--Odyssey just released their D.A.R.T. putters and E. Michael Johnson of Golf World writes that the company is making a handful of “TOUR-only” options including a mid-length version with a 400-gram head, a long version with a 450-gram head, a black PVD version and one with a red D.A.R.T. alignment device. Some of those putters may be put in play at Riviera.
-- In a Masters conference call this week, Phil Mickelson lent some insight into his bag.
On putting two drivers into play at Augusta:
“That particular year, I believe, was one of the first years, if not the first year, that the golf course was lengthened extraordinarily. I think that was the first year that a lot of length was added; tee boxes were moved back quite a few yards. And to combat that, I tried to get a driver that I could hit an initial 20 yards.
“Although I called one a draw driver and one a fade driver, the long driver was the driver that I drew. But I also hit it 20 to 25 yards longer than I did my regular, was a longer shaft and so forth. And I believe that it played a big factor in me winning the golf tournament.
“Now the driver that I have, is very similar to that distance. It might only be five or seven yards shorter than that driver, and so there's really not a benefit to putting another longer driver in play. And so that frees me up to add another club.”
On his wedges:
“I've set my wedges now -- I used to have as much as five wedges, as you know. And what I did was took the gap and sand wedge and kind of created a club in between.
“So every week now, I am set with four wedges. I have a 64 and a 60. I have a strong sand wedge. Which is about 54, 53 1/2, 54 degrees, and then I have a pitching wedge that's a 47 1/2, 48. So that allows me to add some other clubs longer in the bag.
“And usually at Augusta, I don't have a hybrid. I usually carry a 3-iron. And the reason for that is, if I'm not able to reach the par 5s, like 13 and 15, with a 3-iron or less, I usually don't want to go for it, anyways.
“And second, the additional length on No. 4 puts me a lot of times right between clubs, between a 4-iron and sometimes a 3-iron. And so having a 3-iron in the bag at Augusta is what has helped me the last couple of years in some of those in-between shots from 220 to 245.
“So that is usually how my setup, club setup, is. And I no longer play with five wedges. I've had four wedges now and the same wedges for the last couple of years.”
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Bill Murray got "pro shop credit" when his team won low gross on Monday at the annual pro-am to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monterey County.
"I'll get a vest or something that's marked down," Murray said, chuckling, noting that he'd won all sorts of things but "nothing I could cash in at a pawn shop."
Sunday night, though, Murray got to take home a big piece of Waterford crystal, a replica of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am trophy, after he and D.A. Points won the team portion of the event. Of course, Points got the real thing, too, when he finished 15 under to beat Hunter Mahan by two.
By the time the two got to the 18th hole Sunday afternoon in the penultimate group, their pro-am victory was assured. And Points was one shot -- Steve Marino's third, which his opponent needed to hole from the 18th fairway to force a playoff -- from his long-awaited first PGA TOUR win.
So secure in the knowledge that he would win the pro-am for the first time in 20 years of trying, Murray sized up a lengthy putt for par on the 72nd hole and launched into the Carl Spackler commentary mode he made famous in "Caddyshack." It was a classic moment.
"I was remembering that ... a few years ago I had a putt to make the cut, and just as I lined up over the putt, some guy in the stands says, 'You're Carl,'" Murray recalled Sunday evening as he sipped a glass of red wine in the interview room.
"And it's really, it's bad, because you can't not do it. You can't not do it. It's sort of like a four-footer with a little bit of break in it, so I had to do, you know, tears in his eyes, a putt to make the cut, the sea otters and the harbor seals, paddling in attention waiting for this young strong boy to hopefully make a dream come true, seal the deal, as it were.
"And went on and on and on and then I made the putt which I can't believe I could even hit it."
Murray made plenty of putts as he played with Points this week. But he credits a tip that he got from Vijay Singh on Thursday evening with helping turn his game around. He said he completely lost his swing midway through the first round, so he had headed to the range where the World Golf Hall of Famer stepped in.
"Big, flying mud and everything, it was terrible," Murray said. "... I've known Vijay a long time and I'm friendly with him. And I would never go like, ‘Hey, you big Fijian, help me out here.’
"But he saw me, sort of struggling and he came over and he said one thing, and I did it, and then about three minutes later he says another thing, and I did it and then about four minutes later, he said another thing and I did it, and I never hit the ball that well in my entire life. And I just thought, holy cow, I don't know how you can play this long and get something that late that can work.
"That's basically why I'm up here today drinking wine and looking for another glass." – Helen Ross
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – D.A. Points two-putted for a clutch par at the 18th hole Sunday, then, as is his custom, waved to the crowd and thanked them for coming as he walked toward the scorer’s trailer.
He kissed his wife and gathered his 1-year-old daughter into his arms. Points’ win at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – the first of his PGA TOUR career – was all but assured.
Minutes later, the win was official after Steve Marino hit his third shot on the 72nd hole in the Pacific Ocean. Marino, who was the overnight leader, had needed to hole the shot for eagle to force a playoff.
Points finished 72 holes at 15 under which was two strokes ahead Hunter Mahan, who closed with a 66. The critical shot in his round of 67 was the one he holed from 100 yards at the par-5 14th for an eagle that put him in the lead for good.
“Pebble Beach may be the most iconic place in America to play golf and to win here is just a dream come true and I'm so grateful to have this opportunity,” Points said. The victory sends him to Augusta National to play in the Masters for the first time, too.
Points also won the pro-am portion of the tournament with comedian Bill Murray. He said throughout the week that Murray kept him loose, and the pairing worked wonders.
In fact, Points said he was getting really nervous on the 16th green Sunday after that eagle and birdie on the two previous holes had lifted him two strokes ahead of the pack. He was facing a par putt and the nerves were running rampant.
“My caddie asked me, how do you feel and I said, not very good,” Points recalled. “And I stood over a long par putt and I hollered over at Bill like he had hollered at me a few times this week; ‘The crowd would be happy if you could make that.’ That loosened me up and (he) hit a great putt and almost went in. That helped.”
Points parred in for the double victory -- the pro-am win was a first for the “Caddyshack” star, as well. The last celebrity to win the pro-am competition was musician Kenny G in 2001 when he played with Phil Mickelson.
"I knew the only chance D.A. had to win was if we could make it through the entire week without asking him what the initials D.A. stood for, and I didn't, and he's the champion," Murray joked.
"It's really fun to win. It's pretty easy to have fun here. I honestly didn't know what to do the last couple of holes. I felt like my mind and body left and I didn't know how to behave.” – Helen Ross
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Looks like that eagle has lit a fire in D.A. Points.
He just rolled in a curving 30-footer for birdie at No. 15 that gave him a two-stroke lead. Minutes later, though, Hunter Mahan had a chance to narrow the gap when he reached the par-5 18th in two.
Mahan’s eagle putt was from 46 feet. He missed it on the high side and had a 5-footer for birdie – but that, too, stubbornly refused to fall. Mahan finished with a 66.
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.— D.A. Points may have just made the shot of the tournament, holing it from 100 yards for eagle on the challenging 14th hole to take sole possession of the lead at 14 under.
The shot was spectacular. The celebration that followed was more of a spectacle, though, as Points ran over to his amateur partner, comedian Bill Murray, and leapt into the air for a chest bump. He jumped too soon, though, and his feet hit the ground before the two men connected.
Even so, Points has talked all week about how much he’s enjoyed playing with Carl Spackler’s alter ego. He says he’s seen “Caddyshack” more than 5,000 times and Murray is his dream partner. The comedian has kept him loose all week, and the 14th hole was no exception.
The eagle also put the two men on top of the pro-am leaderboard. Murray has never won the pro-am portion of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. -– Helen Ross
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – The final group has six holes remaining, and the race has tightened considerably at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Steve Marino just missed the green at the par-3 12th hole, chipped on and missed a 21-footer for par to drop back into a three-way tie for the lead at 12 under. Also in that group at D.A. Points and Hunter Mahan, who is 5 under through 15 holes.
Bryce Molder and Jimmy Walker are one stroke behind while Alex Cejka and Tom Gillis are tied at 10 under. Of the top seven players on the leaderboard only Mahan has won a PGA TOUR event.
The leader in the clubhouse is Nick Watney, who shot 67 on Sunday to finish at 9 under. If there is a playoff, the holes would be Nos. 18, 17 and 18.