Eric Cole launches Pebble Beach debut with marriage proposal, cards 65
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Written by Jim McCabe @PGATOUR
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – There are ways to make your debut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am memorable. But you’d be hard-pressed to top the way Eric Cole went about it.
Already sporting a pretty good golf pedigree – his parents, Bobby Cole, and Laura Baugh, a former U.S Women’s Amateur champion, both played the game professionally – Eric Cole scripted a memorable chapter himself when he concluded Monday’s practice round at Pebble Beach by proposing to longtime girlfriend Stephanie Williams.
“I didn’t expect it. He totally surprised me,” said Williams. When asked how long the couple has dated she broke into a sweet laugh. “Seven-and-a-half years.”
Cole, minutes after signing for a 6-under 65 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course, smiled then nodded his head.
“It was a long time coming. But better late than never. I got the answer I wanted.”
While Cole, a 34-year-old rookie on the PGA TOUR, has seen Pebble Beach before while caddying for his good friend Sam Saunders in this tournament, Monday’s practice round was the first time he ever played the iconic course. He played nicely that day, but his first round of competition, which included birdies on four of his final eight holes and helped him get within two of Hank Lebioda’s lead, was the cherry on top.
“I mean, I could have shot 65 or 85 and it still would have been a great time,” he said. “But obviously it was great to play well.”
Eric and Stephanie, 32, live in Delray Beach, Florida, and she traveled off and on as her fiancé traveled the Korn Ferry Tour circuit in 2020 and 2022. The first time around was a learning experience for Cole, but last year he finished in the top 10 five times, a solid season culminating in a T3 in the Korn Ferry Tour Championship.
Finishing with a priority ranking of 15th, Cole has good status in his first chance on the PGA TOUR. Thus far, he’s made five cuts in 10 starts, but making the grade in Williams’ eyes means more than all of that to him.
Stephanie was most impressed with the way Eric was able to pull off the surprise. She walked the practice round with him, savoring her first time at Pebble Beach, and then figured it was time for the obligatory photo.
“He took off his hat and glove and I didn’t think anything of it. It’s such an iconic hole,” said Williams. “Reed (Cochrane, Cole’s caddie) took the photo and that’s when he proposed.”
“I probably cried for the first minute,” she said. “I just didn’t expect it.”
Jim McCabe has covered golf since 1995, writing for The Boston Globe, Golfweek Magazine, and PGATOUR.COM. Follow Jim McCabe on Twitter.