Langley, Gay share lead at Pebble Beach
February 07, 2019
By Jim McCabe, PGATOUR.COM
Two tied for the lead at AT&T Pebble Beach
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Certainly, surprises are as much a part of the landscape at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as surf crashing to the shore and celebrity frolics. Think Ted Potter Jr. as your 2018 winner, and this year’s co-leaders after 7-under 64s in Thursday’s first round, Scott Langley and Brian Gay.
Potter, after all, hadn’t won since 2012. So, with that in mind, the surprise carried over to yesterday’s first round with Langley, who is winless in 123 PGA TOUR starts, and Gay, who hasn’t won since 2013 and doesn’t have much of a track record here on the Monterey Peninsula, posting stellar efforts at Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course.
“I’ve always enjoyed this course, so it was nice to come out here and play a good one,” said Gay, whose only top 10 in this tournament came a year ago. But five straight birdies, starting at the par-4 fifth, got him to the turn in 29 and birdies on three of his final four holes easily offset one long bogey to polish his lowest score in the 36 rounds he’s now played in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Langley, who had eight birdies in a 12-hole stretch, was introduced to the golf world with a share of 16th place as an amateur at Pebble Beach in the 2010 U.S. Open, has never quite carried that amateur success into the pro ranks. So, yes, it would be considered a surprise to see his name atop the leaderboard, but it’s not like Thursday’s opening round didn’t offer up a serious sense of norm.
In fact, there were familiar faces everywhere, most notably two of those in a six-way tie for second at 6-under – Phil Mickelson and Jason Day. Like Gay and Langley, Mickelson and Day, played at Monterey Peninsula, which had the lowest field average (68.904). But unlike Gay and Langley, Mickelson and Day have layers of success in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am – four wins for Lefty, plus two seconds, two thirds and two other top 10s, while Day was T-2 a year ago and has finished top 10 five times.
When you factor in two-time champion Dustin Johnson and 2017 winner Jordan Spieth both firing 5-under 66 at Monterey Peninsula and the season’s only two-time winner, Matt Kuchar, posting 67, also at MPCC, there is no shortage of star power. You just might have to look beneath a few umbrellas and several layers of clothing to recognize it the next few days.
“When you have four or five layers on over the next few days with a lot of wind and rain, that’s very hard to play some good golf,” said Day, emphasizing the need to get off to a fast start. “So, you just tried to get something low and propel yourself up there.”
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No surprise that Mickelson opened strong, given his brilliant resume here. It’s just that he played MPCC in a fashion that even made him laugh.
“History was made today,” said Mickelson. “To the best of my knowledge, it’s taken me 27 years and a few months to hit all the fairways in a single round of competition.”
Truth is, Lefty has done that a few times in his career, but not for a long while, but forget the specifics; truth is, he did play beautifully, especially on his homeward nine with five birdies for 32.
In unison with Johnson and Spieth and Day and all those who started quickly at Monterey Peninsula, Mickelson said it was imperative, given the forecast. “This was a day that we had great weather, the courses were very scoreable and so you need to take advantage of that.”
On a day when the field averaged 72.00 at Spyglass, 71.404 at Pebble, and 86 players broke par, there were surprising names who did take advantage.
But it was no surprise that some expected heavyweights did, too.
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