The first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am kicked off this morning at the three different venues: Pebble Beach Golf Links, SpyGlass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Shore Course.
Rookie Henrik Norlander is off to a fast start — he’s five-under through 11 at Pebble. Hunter Mahan is five-under through nine holes at Pebble. So is Matt Every, who has three holes to play.
There are some tidbits from the pre-tourney festivities that I wanted to share before we get into the tournament. (As you may have read in previous posts or tweets, I don’t have internet at the motel I’m staying at this week, so good news is I can’t work once I leave the media center, and bad news is I can’t work once I leave. Ah well — life goes on.)
*Here’s a link to the tee times, and below you can view poor-quality photo versions of them:
Wisconsin native Jerry Kelly is playing with Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (6 handicap).
Jason Day is playing with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh (12 handicap). Please, no mention about that pass interference no-call.
Dustin Johnson, a two-time Pebble Beach champ, is playing with hockey legend Wayne Gretzky (11 handicap).
James Driscoll is playing with Notre Drame coach Brian Kelly (13 handicap).
Jim Furyk is playing with country singer Darius Rucker (9 handicap), who once performed at one of Furyk’s charity events in Jacksonville, Fla.
Jason Bohn is playing with Condoleezza Rice (17 handicap), one of the first two female members at Augusta National.
Jordan Spieth, the Dallas native and amateur/collegiate star who turned pro in December, is playing with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (0 handicap).
Camilo Villegas, nicknamed Spider-man for the way he reads putts, is playing with actor Chris O’Donnell(8 handicap), who is used to being paired with superheroes. He appeared as Robin in two Batman movies.
Ricky Barnes, whose dad Bruce was a punter for the New England Patriots in the early ’70s, is playing with current Patriots coach Bill Belichick (14 handicap).
Patrick Cantlay, who probably encountered his fair share of surfers while growing up in Long Beach, Calif., is playing with surfing legend Kelly Slater (4 handicap).
John Mallinger, who plays in a charity tennis tournament in the Bahamas every year, is playing with tennis star Andy Roddick (6 handicap).
D.A. Points is once again playing with actor Bill Murray (12 handicap). That duo combined to win the Pro-Am portion two years ago while Points went on to win the tournament.
A few other pairings of note:
Eric Compton with actor Ray Romano (16 handicap)
Brad Fritsch with singer Huey Lewis (11 handicap)
Robert Garrigus with baseball pitcher Justin Verlander (4 handicap)
Tim Petrovic with race car driver Rubens Barrichello (14 handicap)
Webb Simpson with actor Andy Garcia (9 handicap)
Jeff Maggert with country singer Clay Walker (10 handicap)
Brendon Todd with actor Oliver Hudson (2 handicap)
Aaron Baddeley with musician Kenny G (2 handicap)
Tim Clark with talk show host Carson Daly (9 handicap)
*I’m not sure why comedian Gary Mule Deer isn’t on the above list. Here’s a hilarious YouTube of him talking about the “Golfer’s Dilemma”…
*Yes, Dustin Johnson is playing with his girlfriend’s father, The Great One, also known as Wayne Gretzky. No, it’s not going to be awkward. Dustin and Wayne have played together many times before.
*On Wednesday at the driving range, DJ and Josh Duhamel (who is so dreamy) were shooting some promos and interviews for TaylorMade’s #OneBucket challenge. Duhamel was questioning the validity of Gretzky’s handicap, which is 11. DJ said repeatedly that Gretzky is indeed a true 11-handicap. “I’ve played with lots. Trust me, he’s a true 11,” said DJ.
Finally, a skeptical Duhamel stood down, but he said, smiling, “He’s (Gretzky) known to win golf tournaments playing with a higher handicap.”
DJ replied, “No, that’s Janet.”
He’s referring to Wayne’s wife, Janet.
*Aside: I took the #OneBucket challenge on Tuesday, and I’m telling you straight up — the clubs are so good they made me swing better! Here’s a picture. Mind you, I hadn’t touched a club since December 30th. I guess 2013 is off to a good start. I haven’t played a round yet, but I hit a bucket of balls.
*Lee Westwood, who moved his family to the Palm Beach area in December, is partnered with his dad John Westwood. It’s John’s first trip to Pebble Beach, so it’s pretty special.
“He’s had a massive influence on me,” said Lee, referring to his dad, on Wednesday in his press conference. “He’s the reason really I’ve got so good at the game. You know, he and my mum invested a lot time in me when I was growing up.
“He didn’t play golf before we started together, so it was first the time we both set foot on the golf course was together. I was nearly 13 years old. So we both started playing together. I turned pro at 19 and came on tour and he was still at 12 handicap, so I can’t understand the reasons for that. (Laughter.)
“He went to every lesson that I have had, drove me there and sat there and listened to it. I just got a bit better than him. Must be down to talent or something like that.”
Lee’s mom is also in town, and it’s his parents’ 43rd wedding anniversary next week, so this trip is “sort of” a present from Lee.
*Per usual, Padraig Harrington charmed the media in his presser on Wednesday afternoon. And also per usual, Harrington gave long and thoughtful answers. Here are his thoughts on Westwood’s recent move from Europe to the States:
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: It’s a difference, there’s no doubt, about the living. But that doesn’t mean it’s any better or worse. Everybody is different in their take on these things. Some people have no problem traveling.Some people want to spend much more time in their own bed, home. We’re all different, and that’s a good thing.
I do say for Europeans coming across here, it’s quite a significant change at an event. A lot of times in the States especially, players are more spread out at the events, different hotels.
Most weeks you could stay in the same brand of hotel and stay in the exact same looking room of the year. You can eat in the same restaurants every day if you want. There is always a chain restaurant.
So things are easy, and because they’re easy, sometimes for the Europeans, because we’re not into the U.S. sport and it’s not as easy for us to get into conversations about U.S. sport, you can get isolated because of that.
As I often say, you can come over here and have room service in your hotel and finish your dinner at 6:00 and you’re sitting there staring at the four walls.
Then you start thinking about your golf and analyzing your golf. It’s not a good place to be.
I have definitely seen Europeans come across individually, and because the culture is different it’s hard to break out. As I said, the last place you want to spend any time on TOUR is in your hotel room.
That’s sticking a nail in your coffin. You’ll overanalyze your game when you’re there. You have to get out and about and break the barriers.
It’s tough enough. Like I’d be into the NFL. I’ve watched some of the other sports, but I certainly couldn’t discuss college sports with any of the guys over
here. I wouldn’t have a clue. You know, unless you went to one of them, you really that passion about it.
But in Europe, the difference would be all the players stay at the same hotel; we share cars to and from the golf course; when you come back to your hotel, there is always guys you want to catch up with. And if you don’t know people, you have to ask where there is a decent restaurant.
You know, you’re not going to have room service in a European hotel. I shouldn’t have said that, should I? (Laughter.) So you’re going to ask somebody. You end up if you ask somebody, Well, have you found anywhere go to eat? Eventually you end up going out to dinner with them and things like that.
So there is a bit more‑‑ as I said, there is a bit more socializing in Europe. Often times there will be a soccer match‑‑ and obviously this happens differently for United States guys. Everybody is asking, Where can we watch the soccer match tonight? If you’re on your own and you pitch up there, there’s, people you know in there watching the game.
So there’s an atmosphere, and obviously that doesn’t happen in the States for a European player. He’s not looking to go down and watch the basketball game.
Even if he did, you’ve been there on your own anyway. Good players have come over here and the lifestyle has knocked them back and they haven’t performed on the golf course. So Lee moving and living here‑‑ there are a bunch of European guys down there now in Orlando. He’s going to be able to talk about soccer any time he likes really.
It’s so important to have that aspect, as I said. I think it could be‑‑ I don’t know‑‑ like I practice all year round in Ireland. I will say it’s nice to practice in warm weather. It’s easier to get into it.
Yeah, put it like this: We’ll be watching to see how he gets on. Time will tell. In two, three years’ time he could tell us, This is the best move ever and he regrets he didn’t do it 10 years earlier. Or maybe he’s heading back. I enjoy my lifestyle, home lifestyle.
Nobody can for sure say that there is a perfect thing to do and a perfect formula. Absolutely different people the lifestyle suits. There are no doubts about it. I’ve seen guys coming over and I’ve said, They’ll do well. They’ll like the lifestyle and fit in nicely. I’ve seen others coming over and said, They’re going to struggle so much. They’re going to get isolated.
If you’re in the Southern Europe you’re used to going to dinner at 10:30 at night, so it’s just a different culture. For those guys it’s always been hard for them. But I’m sure it’s not a big change for Lee. I asked him this week, and probably the most pertinent question is was his wife and kids enjoying it.
He said they were. That’s going to decide a lot more about where Lee is living. You better believe it. It’s much more to do with your family than anything else.
Padraig also told a story about the time he was at a no-hitter at Fenway Park and left at the start of the seventh inning. “I’m watching the game of all-time and I didn’t realize,” he said. “My kids were hungry. No idea what was happening. As far as I could see, why isn’t the guy hitting it?”
*Alright, that’s all for now. I’ll be hosting a Google+ Hangout at around 12:30pm PST (3:30EST) — actually, it might be about 10 minutes later. Please check my Twitter feed for the link and instructions. Thanks!
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)