Quick look at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Embrace the amateurs this week – it’s the best way to succeed
February 08, 2017
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
- The par-3 7th hole at Pebble Beach was the shortest hole on the PGA TOUR last season. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, California. – Forty-seven CEOs, along with a potpourri of chairmen, presidents, managing directors and founding partners. Nine actors, seven musicians, three comedians and a few “entertainers” (one goes by the initials J.T. Evidently, he both sings and dances). A collection of current and former big-name athletes, as well as two football coaches. One of them won the Super Bowl a few days ago.
Hint: It wasn’t Bob Stoops.
Throw in other businessmen, some media types, along with one chef, one orthodontist, one swimsuit model and one former politician – she also happens to be a member at Augusta National -- and you have the general makeup of the amateur portion of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
It’s what makes this event so unique. It’s also what can make this event so challenging to the pros. Four players to a group, two of them amateurs, in an environment like Pebble Beach, in which the weather can be iffy and the winds stiff – well, it can make for lengthy rounds and a test of your patience.
“It’s a huge mental struggle out there,” defending champion Vaughn Taylor said Wednesday. “You’re out there a long, long time together for three days – and four days if you make the cut. And your partner is a big part of it.”
A year ago, Taylor not only won the individual title, he shared the team title with amateur Gregg Ontiveros, a 13 handicapper. While it was Taylor’s first win at Pebble Beach – and his third TOUR win, ending a 11-year drought between victories – it was Ontiveros’ second team title at Pebble; he also won with Brian Harman in 2012.
Taylor had never met Ontiveros until the Tuesday night before the tournament. Ontiveros said straight away that he had two objectives – to have fun and to stay out of Taylor’s way.
“He did all the right things,” Taylor said. “I’ve been on both sides where it wasn’t that easy, and he was a really, really good partner. I appreciate everything he did for me last year.”
While Ontiveros is a high-profile businessman – he’s the CEO of Group O, one of the largest Hispanic-owned companies in the U.S – the paparazzi don't quite treat him the same as, say, Bill Murray or Justin Timberlake or Mark Wahlberg. Pros who are paired with a celebrity must deal with an additional layer of interest.
D.A. Points did it successfully in 2011 when he won the individual title, and teamed with Murray – the most popular celebrity at this event -- for the team trophy.
“I learned quickly that he’s there to entertain the people that are watching,” Points recalled a year later. “Sometimes it’s at my expense … He even said to me, let’s have fun. If it’s taking a bite of a donut on the second green after we make a birdie or chest-bumping or giving knuckles or whatever it is, it’s about having fun.
“Some other guys might say, ‘Oh, that’s a distraction.’ It’s just having fun.”
That's how Jordan Spieth approaches it. His amateur partner is musician Jake Owen. Filling out their foursome is Dustin Johnson and hockey great Wayne Gretzky.
Spieth is making his fifth start in this event. Although he's yet to win, he does have two top-10s and has not finished outside the top 25. It's because he has fun.
"Honestly, the last few years I probably had as much or more fun here as any other tournament," Spieth said Wednesday. "... I've got a great partner who understands the game and has played competitively himself and he's almost like having another positive influence out there like Michael (Greller, caddie) is. And we're going to have fun with it.
"I smile more, laugh more, even when it's not quite going my way. It's just good for me. Good for anybody."
Points embraced the fun … and won. Taylor embraced the fun last year … and won. Let’s see who has the most fun this week.
A closer look at one of the most picturesque three-hole stretches in golf. The 513-yard par-5 sixth, the 106-yard par-3 seventh and the 418-yard par-4 eighth at Pebble Beach hug the coastline and begin the stretch of seaside holes that defines the course.
Pebble Beach Golf Links - 6th, 7th and 8th hole
THE LANDING ZONE
The 543-yard 18th at Pebble Beach ranked as the toughest closing par 5 on the PGA TOUR last season. It played to a stroke average of 5.053, making it just one of 12 par 5s that played over par on the TOUR last season. It’s not the most difficult par 5 on the course – that distinction belongs to the 573-yard 14th – but when you’re trying to close out a tournament, the stress level can rise with the ocean looming to your left. Here’s where all tee shots landed last year.
Here’s a look at the handicaps of the celebrity amateurs this week:
3 - Andy Roddick, Colt Ford, Alfonso Ribeiro, Jake Owen, Kelly Slater, Josh Donaldson
4 - Justin Timberlake, Kenny G, Bret Baier
5 – Charles Kelley
6 – Joe Don Rooney
7 – Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Cain, Andy Garcia, Kelly Rohrbach
8 – Chris O’Donnell
9 – Huey Lewis, Josh Duhamel, Alex Smith, Tom Dressen
10 – Wayne Gretzky, Kunal Nayyar, Clay Walker, Carson Daly, Harris Barton
13 – Toby Keith, Bob Stoops
14 – Bill Murray, Mark Wahlberg
15 – Larry Fitzgerald, Larry the Cable Guy
16 – Bill Belichick, Ray Romano, Condoleezza Rice
18 – Gary Mule Deer, Thomas Keller
The weather motto this week? “Let’s just get through Thursday.” There is a 100 percent chance of rain for the first round; consequently, tee times have been moved up an hour that day in anticipation of delays. Rain is still a possibility on Friday but the weekend should be clear.
TEMPS: Nice and pleasant, if a little chilly. In the 50s.
RAIN: Thursday – yes. Friday – maybe. Saturday and Sunday – we’re good
WINDS: Could be a factor the first day but shouldn’t make an impact after that. Players hoping to avoid the winds that swept through the area during Tuesday’s practice day.
For the latest weather news from Pebble Beach, California, check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub.
SOUND CHECKThe weather’s not going to be great this week. The forecast is pretty bad. I think we’re gonna have to try and make our own fun this week.
ODDS AND ENDS
1.SHORT AND SWEET. Three of the four shortest courses on the PGA TOUR last season are in this week’s tournament rotation. Pebble Beach was the shortest at 6,816 yards. Monterey Peninsula was the third shortest at 6,867 yards. Spyglass Hill is next at 6,953 yards. No surprise that the field averaged 271.5 yards off the tee at Pebble Beach last season, the second smallest average next to Harbour Town’s 267.9 yards.
2.SPYGLASS THE TOUGHEST. Of the three courses in the tournament rotation, Spyglass Hill is considered the toughest. Not only is it the longest, but it generally has the highest stroke average when the three courses are in play. “Pebble, Monterey, you can get a lot of wedges in your hands,” Vaughn Taylor said. “Spyglass, there’s some really demanding par 4s and some of the par 5s aren’t reach for me. And it’s hilly. It’s a different golf course, so I can see why it plays harder.”
3.TOUGH GREEN AT 14. No par-5 green was toughest to hit in regulation last season than the 573-yard 14th at Pebble Beach. Just 41.78 percent of the field managed to hit it in regulation. The only other par 5 that was under 50 percent was the 16th at Firestone (48.5 percent).
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