Of course that’s a reference to Bill Murray’s facial hair. The Pebble Beach National Pro-Am regular is making a scene, per usual. He’s partnered up with D.A. Points, who won the event in 2011 — the pair were also victorious in the pro-am portion of the tournament.
Murray and Points played at Monterey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course on Thursday, and posted a team effort of five-under 65, putting them in a tie for 51st after the opening round.
Here’s a closer shot of Murray’s beard:
However, Murray didn’t steal the show. Russell Knox shot six-under 64 at MPCC (par-70), while Hunter Mahan posted six-under 66 at Pebble Beach (par-72). I know it’s a little confusing since the tournament is contested at three venues — Pebble, MPCC and SpyGlass Hill. Pebble and SpyGlass are par-72s and MPCC is par-70. It all evens out when the cut is made after 54 holes on Saturday. The final round is played at Pebble.
Mahan had a relatively boring day. He hit 16 of 18 greens and 12 of 14 fairways. It was an all-around solid day. He made seven birdies and one bogey, which came on the par-3 17th when a spectator snapped a photo that made a beeping sound in the middle of Mahan’s backswing. C’mon, guys. Can we give a tutorial on how to turn your phone on silent so that doesn’t happen? Anyway, Hunter pushed it short, right of the bunker.
The other green he missed was also a par-3. On the 12th hole, Mahan pushed his tee shot right and made an eight-footer to save par. Otherwise, nothing too exciting happened besides good golf.
The forecast called for rain in the afternoon, but the weather is unpredictable in the area. The cloudy skies cleared in the afternoon and the sun came out, making it a perfect day. Which may have been even sweeter because everyone expected crappy weather.
“The conditions were so benign right now that you can be aggressive and there are some pins that were definitely accessible today,” said Mahan in his post-round presser. “So it was nice to take advantage of that. I played pretty solid all the way throughout. Hit a lot of good putts that had an opportunity to go in, but the greens are quick and you have to pay attention, because you can easily run it by four or five feet and you don’t want to have 4- or 5-footers out here all day long. That’s not going to help your score at all.
“I like how I played and hit a lot of good-quality shots and it was nice to end with a birdie today.”
Players have raved about the conditions at Pebble, which are firmer and faster than they usually are at this time of the year. The greens aren’t too bad, either, considering there are eight people stomping on them in each group.
Six players are tied for third at five-under, including Matt Every (PB), Seung-yul Noh (SH), Ted Potter Jr. (PB), Greg Owen (MP), Ryuji Imada (MP) and Scott Langley (MP), who has had some success at Pebble Beach. Langley teamed with Dana Quigley to win the Pro-Junior division of The First Tee Open at Pebble Beach in 2006, and also shared low-amateur honors with fellow rookie Russell Henley at the 2010 U.S. Open when it was held here.
“I came here when I was young and I was so amazed at how beautiful this place is,” said Langley, who played MPCC in the first round. “You get distracted a little bit by the views.
“I remember when I was younger, I came here and played and I was so nervous on 7 and 17, these iconic holes of Pebble Beach. And I feel differently now. I feel more comfortable here, more at ease. I’ve had good results here so maybe that helps my confidence a little bit.
“I don’t know if I’m more prepared than other rookies but it’s nice being here before today and before this tournament to kind of get more rounds under my belt and have a familiarity with the area.”
[Ed. note: You can definitely get distracted by the views. When I played MPCC and PB, I spent more time taking pictures (like everyone else) than I did focusing on my golf game. Hence, I didn’t play great, but also didn’t care because it was all about the experience.]
Langley and his amateur partner Doug Mackenzie posted a team total of 11-under 59 to take the early lead in the pro-am portion of the event. They were paired with Patrick Cantlay and Kelly Slater, who also had a good day, firing a combined nine-under, good enough for a tie for third.
These pictures are classic. Every wasn’t thrilled about his approach shot on No. 9 at Pebble, his last hole of the day. He hit it over the green and finished with a bogey. His reaction was kind of funny… I guess he forgot there were cameras? But they are great pics.
Other random notes…
*Condoleezza Rice, the former U.S. Secretary of State to President George W. Bush and one of the two first female members of Augusta National Golf Club, was partnered with Jason Bohn, who shot one-under 71. Rice, a 17-handicap, and Bohn posted a team effort of two-under 70.
*Defending champ Phil Mickelson, who is coming off a dominant victory last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, shot a one-under 69 at MPCC. Phil played well from a statistical standpoint, but since he was in the third-to-last group to tee off, he wasn’t happy with the quality of the greens.
“Statistically, I had a good day, but on the greens, I had a tough time getting the ball in the hole,” said Phil, who is playing with longtime amateur partner Skip McGee. “We all do. It’s a difficult situation.
“But I played okay today, and I was 3-under for a while, so it’s disappointing to give a couple shots back coming down the stretch. I’ll have to go out tomorrow at Spy and see if I can get a hot hand.
“One of the things I’ve learned over the years here is you need to be patient. There’s plenty of birdie holes throughout the three courses throughout the first three days. Hopefully I’ll get a good run tomorrow and try to shoot myself up into contention.”
As expected, Mickelson is not playing in the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship.
*Brandt Snedeker, who has back-to-back runner-up finishes to Tiger and Phil, respectively, got off to another good start, posting a four-under 66 at MPCC.
“I made a few putts early to get the momentum going but tough to make a lot of putts over here today,” said Snedeker. “Golf course is in great shape. Greens are a little bumpy but rolled really fast and hard to make a lot of putts on.”
Snedeker and his partner Toby S. Wilt are in second place in the pro-am part of the tournament, posting a combined 10-under 60.
*Two-time AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner Dustin Johnson (2009, 2010) matched his highest-ever opening round at the event, shooting a three-over 73. He’ll have some work to do in the next two rounds to make the cut. However, he’s doing well in the team portion of the event. Partnered with the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, who is also his girlfriend Paulina’s father, the two are tied for third. Sounds like Gretzky carried DJ on his back — they shot nine-under 61 as a team.
Hmm. Gretzky is listed as an 11-handicap.
Yesterday, actor Josh Duhamel (in a good-natured way) questioned the legitimacy of Gretzky’s handicap, and basically, in so many words, he said that Gretzky is a known sandbagger. Their score today makes me wonder… Just saying. I don’t really care, but it’s amusing. Let’s see if he keeps up the fine play!
*Bogey-free rounds: R1 – Greg Owen (MP), Brendon de Jonge (MP), Brian Stuard (PB), Brendon Todd (MP),
Front 9 Back 9 Total Cumulative
PB 35.346 36.269 71.615
SH 35.423 35.962 72.385
MP 33.865 35.731 69.596
(AP Photos/Eric Risberg, Ben Margot)