February 9 2013
By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif.— Jim Nance of CBS sports says the putting green at Pebble Beach is the most expensive piece of property in the country on “Celebrity Saturday” at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. It’s a wonderful scene as athletes, stars from entertainment and CEOs gather before their rounds.
The gallery strained to see Aaron Rogers, who had his driver colored Green Bay green and whipped a football in the stands at the 18th hole with a powerful pass.
Bill Murray tried on the Super Bowl rings of Harris Barton. CBS set up a special booth by the 17th green and the celebrities got a free swing analysis. Celebrity Saturday at Pebble Beach is one of the great days of the PGA TOUR season.
Putting: Brandt Snedeker is tied for the lead in the tournament and is not putting well. He hasn't been happy with his stroke the entire season, saying he is “slightly missing his lines.” The 2012 leader in strokes gained-putting is ranked 25th this season in SGP and has putting rounds of 28-27-30 this week. Snedeker leads the tournament because he’s getting lots of looks at birdies. He has hit 42 of 54 greens. Snedeker missed several makeable birdie putts on his inward nine that could prove very costly by Sunday afternoon.
Phil the thrill: What an awful 18th hole for Phil Mickelson. He hit two balls into the ocean, taking a triple bogey. Adding to the embarrassment was a slip that could have been dangerous. Mickelson went into the hazard left of the 18th fairway and slipped on some wet rocks, falling hard on his backside. He was wearing a beautiful pair of chocolate pinstriped trousers that became wet but did not tear. To Mickelson’s credit, he stayed and signed autographs following the bad finish and he did so with a smile on his face.
High tide: The weather report called for “an extreme high tide” on Saturday and the ocean crashed onto the beach just yards away from fairways. The close proximity of the waves lent an invigorating scent to the golf course as salt air permeated the grounds.
Heavy air: One professional told me Northern California is the land of the “140-yard 8-iron.” That is a slight exaggeration but the moisture-laden air and soft fairways make for an adjustment in distances. Last week, Phil Mickelson hit a 191-yard 8-iron into the 15th green at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. On Saturday, Mickelson had 164 yards into the eighth green and hit the same 8-iron. Professionals take two to three clubs more when figuring yardage this week.
Refreshing: Professionals and amateurs had their thirst and appetites taken care of during the third round. Hamburger “sliders” were available at the sixth tee. Murray enjoyed several and graciously passed out more to the volunteers in his group. Meanwhile, fruit smoothies were available to all contestants at the 14th tee.
Frosty: The overnight low was officially 36 degrees but there was ice on the course as players arrived in the early morning. It did not affect play but caddies had a jolt as they dipped towels into water buckets on the range to clean grips and clubs. There is nothing like icy water in the early morning to jolt a caddie’s nervous system.
Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.