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From an albatross at Pebble to Stanford

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From an albatross at Pebble to Stanford

Chris Meyers made the most remarkable shot in 2014 playing with Lee Janzen

    Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour

    Pebble Beach is one of the most hallowed grounds in all of golf. It has hosted a PGA TOUR event every year since 1947 and been the home of the PGA TOUR Champions Nature Valley First Tee Open, now the PURE Insurance Championship, since 2004.

    Six majors have been contested at Pebble Beach, including five U.S. Opens.

    The list of players who’ve won events at Pebble Beach is, well, about what a golf enthusiast would expect. It includes the likes of Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Ben Crenshaw, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, among others.

    Pebble Beach literally has hosted tens upon thousands of competitive rounds.

    But the only albatross recorded in competition at the iconic par-5 18th hole belongs to a junior player in the 2014 Nature Valley First Tee Open, where the PGA TOUR Champions returns this week.

    Chris Meyers, now a senior at Stanford, was a senior at Canyon del Oro High School outside Tucson, Arizona, when he hit a 4-iron from 203 yards out in the fairway and gently rolled it into the cup in the oft-used and oft-difficult front-right pin position.

    Not only did Meyers accomplish a feat no one else had done, but the shot won the pro-am portion of the tournament for him and his PGA TOUR Champions partner, two-time U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen.

    “I was just trying to get it up there somewhere,” Meyers said on Monday, the first day of fall classes at Stanford. “It was a perfect 4-iron number for me. And then it just … went in the hole.”

    The video shows Meyers looking almost sheepish. Janzen was among those to give him a high five and pat on the back. The pro later repaired Meyers’ ball mark while he retrieved his ball from the cup and acknowledged the cheering gallery.

    Janzen started the day in contention to win the PGA TOUR Champions event but had faded by the time he had reached the middle of the back nine. He said he checked the scoreboard around 15 and realized he and Meyers could win the pro-am with three birdies.

    Meyers then birdied 16, and Janzen birdied 17.

    When they stepped to 18, the pro decided to use his experience to offer his playing partner some advice.

    “He was pretty long and playing from a set (of tees) up, and the wind was left to right behind,” Janzen recalled on Tuesday. “I knew with him never playing this hole he could drive it out of bounds. I told him to aim at this red stake down the left side.

    “He hit it maybe too well, and about five feet left. It was headed for the ocean but hit a rock and popped right back up into the fairway.”

    The rest is history. Meyers flushed the 4-iron, and the ball landed about as softly as a 4-iron can, barely bouncing and gently rolling toward the cup. That was the part that still sticks with Janzen.

    “That front-right pin … you never see anybody hit it stiff there,” Janzen said. “And it dropped in like a putt. It was rolling so gently you could have taken the pin out. It was pretty amazing.”

    Meyers said it’s an arduous process to make it into the junior field for the PURE Insurance Championship. He said a player has to be in good standing with their local First Tee program and have to have advanced to the “eagle” level of participation. Then, there is an application that includes essay questions and a sitdown interview with the coach of the local First Tee. Based on that players are recommended for the precious spots, and they find out a couple of months beforehand that they’ll be teeing it up at Pebble Beach.

    The juniors find out who their PGA TOUR Champions partners will be at a pairings party the week of the event.

    Meyers couldn’t have done much better than Janzen, who enjoys playing in the event and fostering junior golf. But most of the guys on the PGA TOUR Champions are great ambassadors for the game.

    “I was pretty nervous for a few holes and was just trying to settle in,” Meyers said. “Then you start playing your game.

    “They’re all super nice. They know how to deal with the juniors. They get them in a good place mentally.”

    Janzen and Meyers have kept in touch since their victory four years ago. Janzen said they played a round of golf together in Meyers’ home area of Tucson a couple of years ago when the young player was on spring break.

    Meyers said the Nature Valley First Tee Open pro-am trophy is on his desk in his bedroom at home. It was the perfect end to a week he called incredible from start to finish.

    “That’s a shot he gets to brag about for the rest of his life,” Janzen said.

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