February 7 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM correspondent
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- It's always difficult to tell who really leads at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. For the first three days you have the field split among three different courses. Monterey Peninsula is considered the most score-able; Spyglass Hill the most difficult; and Pebble Beach the most exposed to the elements.
Is Hunter Mahan's 6 under at Pebble Beach better than Russell Knox's 6 under at Monterey Peninsula? Seung-Yul Noh's 67 at Spyglass Hill might actually be the best round of the day. With bad weather predicted for the second round, we won't know who truly has the lead until Saturday night when the entire field has played all three courses.
Long John: John Daly had a bad day, shooting 5 over. But he did have a very memorable hole. He reached the 582-yard 14th hole in two shots. Daly's drive on the par 5 traveled 300 yards, followed by a 282-yard 3-wood that held the middle of the green. Players can reach that green in two, but very few ever hold the putting surface. Daly converted a two-putt birdie for a small victory in a day of disappointment.
Eagles: Heath Slocum had a pair of eagles in the opening round and a numerical oddity. He eagled the sixth hole and the 18th and both times the putts measured 7 feet, 2 inches. Slocum had just four eagles in all of 2012 and now has two in the opening round, with both coming from the same distance.
Short game: Lee Westwood knows his game and knows what needs to be improved. He ranked 191st in scrambling last year and 175th in strokes gained-putting. Westwood is serious enough about improving that he relocated his entire family to Florida, saying the weather and practice facilities will improve his entire game. In his first PGA TOUR round of the season Westwood hit 16 of 18 greens.
Pace of play: The opening round averaged nearly 5 hours, 30 minutes for each foursome. John Maginnes of PGA TOUR Radio had an interesting observation, saying that slow pace of play is one reason why so many veterans play well in this tournament. The inexperienced golfer grows tired and loses concentration when rounds exceed 4 1/2 hours.
Conditions: This tournament is noted for soft fairways and greens, but not this week. The fairways have some speed and it takes a well-struck golf shot to hold the greens. It is a welcome change. In the past, balls hit the green and you could hear a “splat” and frequently drives in the fairways picked up splotches of mud. It would be wonderful if the dry conditions persisted, but rain is in the forecast for Friday.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.