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The Tour – Pebble Beach

PEBBLE BEACH RUCKHAUS TOUR FIRST HOLE

[Ed. Note: Starting here, as long as it’s a full-size course, I’ll play every golfer. As aggressive play is the only way to get off the Ruckhaus Tour, the AI wouldn’t understand that. Therefore, the object for this hole is to go for the green in two and no lag putting. Conditions, set by the first foursome out, were soft, moderate wind favoring the golfers, the red pin–back left–and PGA rough. Generally, this favored the heavy hitters and players who could hit a 3-wood or long iron off the deck.]

244 golfers teed off on the eighteenth hole at Pebble Beach. For many, and though they weren’t allowed to pick up their balls (the ones with the dimples), it was all over in one shot. Quite a few went in the drink while others found themselves behind the fairway tree at 275 yards out. Others went in the bunker or ended up with a poor lie in the rough.

92 golfers made birdie. It wasn’t good enough.

Sixteen made eagle. That was. The one thing in common for all was that they made the green in two and one-putted. Not one chip in or hole-out.

Like the old game show “The $64,000 Question,” the following have reached the next plateau:

In alphabetical order: Woody Austin, Maurice Bembridge, Paul Casey, Wes Ellis, Keith Fergus, John Golden, Paul Harney, Dick Lotz, Johnny Pott (the guy who couldn’t make birdie somewhere else), Ted Ray, Dave Rummels, Ed Sneed, Earl Stewart, Camilo Villegas, Denis Watson and Mike Weir.

The good news for all is that none will suffer the “else” part of The Chairman’s recent ultimatum of “Win money or else” and all will be heading off to the par three seventh.

PEBBLE BEACH RUCKHAUS TOUR SECOND HOLE

The sixteen surviving golfers made their way to the seventh hole, a par three of “pitch and putt” length. But don’t let the 105 yard distance fool you. With the wind hard in their faces and the necessity to make birdie in order to stay alive, what would have been “go for the green, two putt and get out,” became go for the pin and hope.

In the first foursome of Austin, Bembridge, Casey and Ellis, only Ellis landed on the green and likely set the standard of being only eight feet away. Bembridge pushed his ball into the ocean, Casey came up short and Austin, hoping to back one up, took a flyer.

Who made birdie? Casey, with a chip in, that’s who. Ellis, with the best shot at a deuce, missed his putt to the right and Austin, needing to hole out as well, couldn’t even get up and down, missing a nine-footer. Bembridge took his drop and gamely got up and down for four.

The next foursome of Fergus, Golden, Harney and Lotz saw two golfers hit the green, Golden and Lotz, with the latter almost putting it into the hole on the fly. Walking up to the hole, Lotz saw his pitchmark just six inches left of the hole. But, with the headwind and short iron, his ball backed up nine feet. Golden’s shot went over the flagstick and backed up, leaving a testy eleven-foot putt from above the hole. Fergus and Harney both flew the green and couldn’t chip in, Fergus two-putting for a bogey while Harney got up and down.

Golden stepped up to his ball and calmly drained his knee-knocking putt for a birdie while Lotz, facing an uphill putt of shorter distance, pulled it just left.

Halfway done on the second hole, an iddy-biddy par three, and six of the eight golfers are finished for this week.

On to the next foursome of Pott, Ray, Rummels and Sneed.

Pott and Ray hit the green, Pott coming up short then watching his ball back up, leaving an 18-foot uphill putt while Ray was a bit closer, 16 feet, but in the back center, leaving a snaking downhill putt. Rummels yanked his shot into the left bunker while Sneed pushed his into the back right bunker.

Neither Rummels nor Sneed could hole out their bunker shots. For Rummels, it was “army golf,” going from the left bunker into the one where Sneed was on the right, eventually making a disastrous double bogey. Truth be told, though even par is this competition is usually disastrous, the two-bagger was just plain ugly. Most two-baggers are, I suppose. Sneed got up and down for par.

Pott, whose ball managed to just stay on the green, hit a bullet that clipped the back rim of the hole, popped up and fell in. Never up, never in. He’ll move on. Ray was next. Hitting it on the low side, he missed right. Though he did make par, it wasn’t good enough.

Up stepped the next foursome. Stewart was first up and couldn’t gauge the wind, flying the green with a pitching wedge. Villegas saw that and went down a club, his sand wedge coming up short and right but in the short grass. Watson, confused, finally decided on the pitching wedge. Like Stewart, he flew the green. The southpaw Weir was last in this crew and also went with pitching wedge, hitting just a bit fat and ending up near Villegas’ ball.

Stewart was first to go and missed badly with his chip, his ball rolling past the hole to the right by a wide margin, leaving himself 20 feet for par, which he two-putted. Sayonara. Watson’s chip shot was a good one, but not good enough, stopping within three feet where he made his par putt. Also, sayonara. From below the hole, both Villegas and Weir asked for the flag to be removed and elected to chip. Villegas missed four feet to the left and made his par. Hasta la vista. Weir had the best effort of the foursome, but ran his ball a foot past the hole. Buzzer. Loser.

And so three–Casey, Golden and Pott–will move on to the one of the prettiest darned holes in golf with a breathtaking second shot to a postage stamp-sized green, the par-four eighth.

PEBBLE BEACH RUCKHAUS TOUR THIRD HOLE

On to the par-four eighth where a hefty crosswind off the ocean played havoc with both tee and approach shots.

Casey was first up. Taking a 2-iron, he aimed toward the right hoping the wind would help him out. It did, leaving him on the right side of the fairway but with 190 yards in. Golden, seeing where Casey’s ball landed and knowing he had more distance to play with, pulled out a 3-wood. Also aiming right, he hooked his ball just a bit ending up left of center on the fairway and with just over 190 yards to go. Pott went with 2-iron and also flirted with danger. Except his ball never came back as he bounced off the cliff and into the ocean. If no one can make birdie here, he might still get up and down, albeit from 172, and still stay in the competition.

Pott was first to go with his second shot. A heavy hitter, from 202 out of the rough he went with a 6-iron. But the wind got him and he landed short, needing to chip in from just over 35 yards to save par. Golden was next. Also pulling out a 6-iron, the wind got a hold of him and pushed his ball left and short, leaving a long bunker shot from the front left of the green. Casey also went 6-iron and hit the ball right on line. But, with the pin in the back left, he overshot just a bit, his ball landing on the short grass just off the back.

Pott was also first up with his third shot. Giving it the old college try, he came within five feet of holing out, eventually dropping his putt for a bogey five. That will likely not be good enough. Golden hit a terrific bunker shot to six feet. With a tricky green, Casey elected to putt. Damn near made it too, his put just rimming out, tapping in for par. So, out goes Pott. Needing to drain a six footer to keep this match going, Golden parked it in the center of the cup.

So, after both Casey and Golden played the first two holes in three-under, par is good enough here and they’ll move on to the ninth hole where missing right, especially on the approach, is not advised. Pott will pick up third place money.

PEBBLE BEACH RUCKHAUS TOUR FOURTH HOLE

Casey again had honors as the action moved to the ninth. With the wind coming hard out of one o’clock, Casey aimed to the right of center even though the fairway dropped off figuring that, even an approach shot from the right side had to be better than dealing with that nasty bunker on the front left which had the potential to swallow wayward approaches from balls coming in off the left side. Casey hit the fairway but rolled off, leaving 175 and with the trap not on his line. Golden, seeing what the wind did to Casey’s shot, favored the left side of the fairway with his tee shot, landing it there but leaving over 200 to get in.

Golden was first. Too far right and he’d be in the drink. Too far left and that bunker would definitely be in play. A 4-iron turned out to be enough club. But he pushed it right, the wind doing him enough of a favor to where he landed in the short space between the green and death, actually stopping in the short grass. Casey, also using a 4-iron, but out of the rough, pushed his ball left, managing to just avoid the lone bunker, landing just to the left and leaving himself a fair amount of green to work with considering there’s not much green in the first place.

Casey was first up with his third shot and chili-dipped his ball into the bunker while Golden silently breathed a sigh of relief. The three words you don’t want to hear on a golf course: “Still your turn.” There’s another one I heard last year: “USGA” [(You) suck. Go again.]. Casey followed his chili dip with a heavy shot out of the bunker, managing to get out but leaving 18 feet for bogey. If this were match play, Casey might have conceded. But, around here, you putt out. Golden, off the green from 22 feet, elected to play safe and pulled out the flat blade just trying to get close, which he did. Taking a look at Casey, who said, “Finish up,” Golden tapped in for par and the $180,000 first prize.

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH STAFFA TOUR FIRST ROUND

Fred Couples and Anthony Kim got out of the gate quickly moving two shots ahead of the remainder of the 149-man field, each shooting a 5-under 66.

In strong wind conditions, Couples starting moving up the leaderboard on the sixth hole thanks to his spot-on approach shots. Though it took him three to get on that par five, his very short pitch stopped next to the hole and he tapped in for birdie. An 8-iron to within two feet on the majestic eighth sent him out in 2-under 33. Another fine approach on eleven netted him another birdie and he did likewise on thirteen and fourteen. A final lob from behind the front right bunker on eighteen made it six birdies on the day.

Couples’ only blemish came on that nice run between eleven and fourteen when he flew the green on the par three twelfth and his mis-hit a chip that rolled off the front of the green, getting up and down from there for bogey.

As for Kim, it was a smorgasbord of shots which got him to 5-under.

Kim got his first birdie on the opening hole, putting an 8-iron from 154 to within two feet. He gave it right back on two as his four-iron approach on the long par four got hung up in the wind and landed 35 yards short of the green where it took him three to get up and down. He got back to business on six, like Couples, reaching the par five in three but banging home a 19-foot putt. On the very short par three next hole, he managed to find the little bit of green between the far right hole location and the pin, making the seven-foot putt. On the eleventh, he chipped in from just off the green and his 50-yard approach on the par five fourteenth landed within a foot. One final birdie came at the last where he reached in two after smacking a 3-iron second shot 260 yards (in my dreams) and two-putting from 38 feet.

Out of the gate the fastest of all was Phil Rodgers, who’s in a threesome with George Bayer and Charles Howell III at 3-under, the latter with a front row seat watching Couples as they played in the same threesome. For Rodgers, well, he shouldn’t have had that hot dog at the turn, as he went out in a blistering six-under 29–the only person to go that low at any point during the round–before flushing himself down the toilet on the back side with a 39. Good thing he had some breathing room with that 29.

After a birdie at the opener, Rodgers ran off five straight to close out the front side. Like Couples, he had his approach shots working. On the par three fifth, he parked a 4-iron to within seven feet. His short approach on six stopped within two feet. He made an 11-foot putt from the fringe on seven, put a 7-iron to within four feet on eight and a 6-iron to within 12 feet on nine.

And then came the back nine.

Coming up short on ten, it took him three to get in from 40 yards. He came up short on twelve and took three more to get down there. After a birdie on fourteen, he bogeyed the next three, unable to get up and down from the right side bunker on fifteen, likewise after missing left on sixteen and pushing his tee shot into the right side bunker on the treacherous par three seventeenth, hitting a rotten second and saving bogey only with an eight-foot putt. He could have played the back nine in an ungodly 40 except he got up and down from 50 yards for birdie on eighteen.

Rounding out the top nine (eight guys tied for tenth at 1-under), all at (obviously) 2-under, Jay Haas, Dale Douglass and Bob Hamilton.

Mommy, please don’t make me play tomorrow. Todd Hamilton with an 88 and likely headed back to the Ruckhaus Tour. As he already has cashed two more than minimum wage checks (everybody makes money on the Ruckhaus Tour, just not too much of it as everyone who plays just one hole gets about 300-odd dollars), he’s not in danger of getting on The Chairman’s blacklist. Where did it go bad? Well, the 42 on the front consisted of four bogeys and a double. Where it really went south for Hamilton was on the fifteenth. His first 3-iron got pushed out of bounds. Did he learn? No, as the second one went in the same direction. Hitting five off the tee, his approach was just short and left. A bit more than 30 feet away, he flubbed his next then couldn’t get up and down, finishing with a big fat 10. In my world, though it doesn’t happen often, we stop at double par.

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH STAFFA TOUR SECOND ROUND

With 150 years’ worth of golfers playing, the one thing any one of these 500-plus golfers are certain of is that someone will be waiting to shove you out of the way.

With that in mind, Fred Couples, one of yesterday’s first round co-leaders, saw five players pass him by while the other, Anthony Kim, saw fifteen brush past. And this is just the “B” flight.

The new man at the top of the totem pole is Seve Ballesteros, whose 5-under par 66, under slightly more benign conditions than yesterday, moved him to 7-under for the two rounds.

Ballesteros made his money on the par threes today, birdieing three of the four with two of those coming on decent-sized putts, from 15 feet on five and nineteen feet on nine. A 271-yard 2-iron on the last led to a two-putt birdie, a nice way to make you want to come back and play some more.

One behind Seve and in the second-to-last pairing tomorrow will be Charles Howell III, whose second consecutive 68 left him one behind. Howell went out in a 3-under 32 and was two over on the back until hole number eighteen. Like Ballesteros, he banged a 2-iron from the left fairway. For Howell, it was nine yards shorter at 262 and he ended up three feet from the pin, draining the very easy eagle.

Also at 6-under and playing in the final pairing as he was the first to post the 6-under was Phil Rodgers who, like Howell, also shot consecutive 68s. Rogers was lethargic through the first fourteen holes, playing a 2-over, largely from hitting the water twice on ten and making double bogey as he had a birdie canceled out by a bogey on the front side.

But then something clicked starting with the shot of the day on fifteen. After a 3-wood played safely to the center of the fairway, Rodgers canned a pitching wedge from 126 for eagle. A 9-iron to seven feet on the next hole was worth a birdie and a 4-iron on the par three seventeenth to five feet got back yet another stroke. Though he came up short with his second on the final hole, he got up and down from 25 yards to make it 5-under over the final four holes.

THE OTHER SHOT OF THE DAY: Flory Van Donck on the thirteenth. After a 3-wood hit safely to the center of the fairway, Van Donck took aim at the back left pin placement with a 9-iron from 140. Bull’s-eye! Unfortunately, at 5-over, he needed just one more birdie (or one fewer bogey) somewhere to make the cut.

LOW ROUND OF THE DAY: Jack Burke, with a 65 to move him into a seven-way tie for sixth. Other than a 25-foot putt on four and one of about the same distance on fifteen, Burke got two of his six birdies on approach shots and two more on par fives, one a nice wedge shot from 50 yards on fourteen and a two-putt birdie on eighteen.

CAN I PLAY SOME OF THESE HOLES TWICE AND SKIP THE OTHERS? Arnaud Massy, whose seven-hole stretch from seven through thirteen has been an unmitigated disaster. 5-over in the first round and 7-over today. Amazingly, his first six holes both days has been lights out–2-under yesterday and 6-under (six consecutive birdies) today. And that’s just enough to keep him in the top seventy and avoid a trip to the dreaded Ruckhaus Tour. Some of these guys on all the tours do their best playing after six. Not Massy, I guess.

AND WHAT ABOUT TODD HAMILTON? 88 yesterday made certain that he’d be spending his weekend on some place other than the golf course–like maybe the practice range. He had a more mundane 74 today (four bogeys and a birdie) and was still last in this 149-man event at 20-over par. And about the fifteenth, the hole that bit him in the ass yesterday as he got a 10–he improved by 50 percent today with a bogey five, landing in the left trap and being unable to get up and down after missing a six-footer.

MISSING THE CUT: It’s top seventy and ties. So anybody at 4-over or better will stick around for some cash. At 5-over or worse are Tim Simpson, Fuzzy Zoeller, Bubba Watson and Jim Turnesa, to name a few at +5, Willie Anderson, Francis Ouimet and Freddie Haas (+6), last week’s Ruckhaus Tour winner Willie Goggin, Ben Hogan and David Duval (in a bunch at +7), Jim Ferree, Steve Stricker and Tom Kite (+8), Brad Faxon (+9), a man who was one stroke away from getting a full Gerney card, Boo Weekley (+10), Rory Sabbatini (+12), Aaron Baddeley (+13) and Jodie Mudd (+18). And, of course, there’s Todd Hamilton.

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH STAFFA TOUR THIRD ROUND

Jerry Pate’s second consecutive 5-under 66 vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard. Zipping up behind him with the best round of the day, a 64, was Willie Fernie, moving to one behind at 9-under. Fred Couples, the first round co-leader, who slipped a bit yesterday as others passed him by, turned it around with a 67 to move into sole possession of third place at 8-under.

For Pate, it was thought a very long eagle putt on six (53 feet) would get his engine started. But he gave one of those strokes back on eight as he two-putted from four feet. After five straight pars, he kicked into gear with birdies on three of the final five holes. He got down from 40 yards for birdie on the par five fourteenth, parked a 148 pitching wedge to within four feet on sixteen and two-putted for birdie on eighteen for yet another birdie. What really helped Pate today was his scrambling, getting up and down to save par on two, ten, fifteen and seventeen.

Fernie earned his keep on the front side this afternoon, going out in 5-under 30. After a 39-foot putt for birdie on three, the rest of the red numbers were a bit more mundane: 10 feet on five, up and down on six, seven feet on seven and nine feet on nine. On the back side, his putter failed him for one of only two times in the round with both leading to bogey, three-putting on eleven and missing a 10-footer on seventeen. But, like many (22 of 70 today, 103 of 368 overall), he wrapped up his round by getting up and down for birdie on the last, banging home a 14-foot putt. Those numbers in parentheses, by the way, represent birdie or better.

As for Couples, he had three of each on the front side for an even-par 35. Parking a 4-iron from 179 to within a foot on ten started a run of 3-under on a five-hole stretch as he hit a 6-iron on the par three twelfth to within five feet and getting up and down for a birdie on the par five fourteenth. And, like many, he gained a stroke on eighteen. Should’ve been two, but he missed a six-footer for eagle.

THAT WAS YESTERDAY: The second round leader, Seve Ballesteros, shot an even-par 71 and watched a half dozen people pass him by. One behind him was Charles Howell III. With his only birdie on five and not much else, his 3-over 74 saw him drop into a six-way tie for tenth at 3-under. Also close by yesterday was Phil Rodgers. One back of Ballesteros starting play today, his even-par 71 put him in sole possession of sixth.

Between Couples and Rodgers, both at 7-under, are George Bayer (67) and Sam Snead (68).

For Bayer, his round was marked by two runs of three birdies in a row on five through seven and fourteen through sixteen. Like Pate, he had birdies on three of his final five holes (14, 16 and 18), but an errant tee shot into the wrong place on seventeen, the right hand bunker with the pin on the left, netted him a bogey. Snead made his money with the very lofted clubs today, getting up and down for par six times (3, 6, 8, 9, 12, 13) from 40 yards or less.

First round co-leader Anthony Kim had his second straight over par round in a row (72 today) and fell back into a ten-way tie for eighteenth at 1-under.

Arnaud Massy, whose incredible play on holes one through six (8-under) on the first two days have more than been canceled out by his next six holes (12-over) and barely made the cut, broke with his hastily-made tradition by bogeying three of his first four holes and fell further off the radar with a 6-over 78 and is tied at second from last at 11-over with only Bud Allin’s 82 (12-over total) separating him from dead last.

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH STAFFA TOUR FINAL ROUND

Jerry Pate glanced over at the leaderboard as he walked over to the eighteenth tee. “Snead, -10. Pate -9.” Man, that seventeenth hole killed him. The Sunday pin placement was always a bitch, 220 and almost all carry over that humongous trap on the left to not too much green. And, with the wind sort of at his back, the idea of hitting an extra club or two into the wind and watching his ball flutter onto the green wasn’t in the cards today. No, what Pate was going to do was to go for the safer right side of the green, hopefully two-putt from long distance, get out of Dodge and hope to cash in on the par-five just ahead.

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men as his 7-iron came up in the heavy grass just short. OK, it could be worse as he had plenty of green to work with. Except he misjudged his lie and chili-dipped the ball. Still in the rough but with a better lie, he chipped past the hole leaving a ten-footer for bogey. Still some work to do as he surveyed his putt. Staring it down, he dropped it in the center of the cup leaving him one down with one to go.

And then he heard the screams from over 500 yards away. Snead had done something. Had to have been Snead as he was playing with Phil Rodgers, who was at 4-under and, though he’d pick up a decent-sized check and a trip back to the Gerney Tour, wasn’t otherwise in contention.

Pate teed off on eighteen. Looked like a good shot down the right side but close to the big tree which was right in most golfers’ target line.

And then he heard about Snead. Par? They were cheering like that for a par? Maybe things weren’t that bad after all.

It turned out that Snead’s tee shot flirted with danger, just managing to hang up in the left rough with just enough of a stance that he could hit his second near the green. Out came the 3-wood. But he pushed it right and ended up behind the large tree behind the front right bunker and without a third shot. Taking an unplayable lie, he hit a rotten fourth shot, just clearing the trap and leaving 35 feet just to save par which he drained thus begetting the deafening cheers.

As Pate walked toward his ball, the pairing in between, Fred Couples (-5) and George Bayer (-4) were putting out. Both would par and both would finish with 3-over 74s. Both would also finish in the top ten and would be moving on to the adult table for next week’s play.

“Aw, shit,” said Pate as he got closer to his ball and saw it just right of the tree where he couldn’t swing a long club. He’d birdied the hole two out of the first three rounds, so he knew that wasn’t out of the question in the here and now though, with the wind mostly in his face and what looked like a pitching or sand wedge in his hand, the odds were severely stacked against him to make it three out of four.

Pate safely advanced the sand wedge, but still had 180 to get up and down. With the wind against him, he wouldn’t have to worry about finessing the ball so it would stop on the putting surface. Out came the 6-iron and he gave it all he had. And it was right on line too. But the wind knocked it down a bit and his ball hit the brakes 25 feet away. Pate second-guessed himself after the shot and for the first few strides up the fairway. Should I have gone with the 5-iron?

But, like most athletes, he put that thought out of his mind and dealt only with the current situation. The putt was makeable. Hey, Snead had just banged one in from ten feet further, so why not me? And, like the 6-iron, his putt was right on line. Maybe the wind got it. Maybe it was a spike mark. Or maybe he just misjudged by a fraction as the ball stopped just short of the hole. Dejectedly, Pate tapped in for his par and, though a hefty $324,000, second place money.

Rounding out the top ten were Old Tom Morris, who made up ground on quite a number of golfers today with a 2-under 69 as the tough wind conditions pushed many backward. One of those was Willie Fernie, whose 75 was eleven strokes worse than yesterday. He tied with Couples for fourth at -5. Bayer, Phil Rodgers, Geoff Ogilvy, Tony Jacklin and Harry Vardon, all at minus-four, rounded out the top ten. Of that group, it was the Scotsman Vardon, used to playing in conditions like this back home, who was the most satisfied as he shot the second-best round of the day, a 5-under 66, wrapping it up with birdies on four of the final six holes, including the last, which wasn’t giving away much today (only seven birdies and playing about a half stroke harder than the other three days).

LOW ROUND OF THE DAY: Curtis Strange, with a 65 (-1 and thirteenth place overall) and nine strokes better than yesterday, the largest improvement of any of the 70 golfers, and by four strokes, too. No bogeys and may have been the only golfer to birdie both seventeen and eighteen, nailing putts of 22 and 14 feet to do so (too lazy to look it up).

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH GERNEY TOUR FIRST ROUND

Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson, who, by virtue of finishing tied for tenth on last week’s Staffa Tour event at Pinehurst, barely qualified for the 116-man field for this week’s Gerney Tour event at Pebble Beach, sits atop the leaderboard with an 8-under par 63. The good news for Thomson is that, unless he seriously chokes tomorrow, he’ll pick up a check here this week and remain qualified for next week’s Gerney Tour event at wherever the Chairman decides to set up his tent (mansion?).

Thanks to the wind out of the north Thomson, like many others, made hay on the front nine. For him, it was an impressive four-hole run which he played in 5-under.

It started on the par-three fifth, where he landed a 7-iron from 194 within seven feet, making birdie. The par-five sixth was giving away plenty today, with 20 eagles and 66 birdies with Thomson coming the closest to nailing a double eagle as, after a 328-yard blast off the tee, his 7-iron approach stopped within a foot of the hole. The short par-three seventh saw his tee shot land pin high and just to the left, making an eight-footer for another deuce. And, after going just a bit long with his approach on eight, he chipped in for yet another birdie. Even with a bogey on nine, where he two-putted from six feet, Thomson went out in an impressive 30. Birdies on ten, fourteen and eighteen, the last of those three not giving away much (only 18 birdies) with everyone playing into the wind, saw him come home in 33.

Right behind Thomson is Gene Sarazen with a 64. Like Thomson, he had a good run of holes on the front side, playing four, five and six in 4-under, also bagging an eagle on six with an impressive 30-foot putt.

George Archer is alone in third with a 65. Like the other two, he played five through seven in 4-under, his eagle on six coming with a 12-foot putt.

Rounding out the early leaders was Lloyd Mangrum (66), Lew Worsham and Tommy Bolt (67) and nine tied at 68, including Greg Norman, Payne Stewart, Cary Middlecoff and Al Geiberger.

Also at 68 was the only player to birdie seventeen, Frank Beard. With the pin on the tougher left side of the green and a hefty 214 yards away, and the wind at the players’ backs making the ball tougher to stop on the putting surface, Beard hit a 6-iron towards the center of the green managing to just make it over the right side of the trap, hit softly on the fringe and rolled on to the thinnest part of the hourglass-shaped green. Lots of players made pars on seventeen today, many by taking the front trap out of play, landing on the safer right side of the green and two-putting. Beard was the only person to make one from long distance, draining a 34-footer.

On a day when exactly half the field was at par or better, someone had to be well below average. That was Stuart Appleby with a 9-over 80. He had company, as Lawson Little also posted the same rotten score. But, where many others were gaining strokes on six, Appleby lost two as, in going for the green in two from the right rough, he pushed his ball into the water. He over-compensated on his second attempt, missing left where he couldn’t get up and down from about 20 yards, making a double bogey seven.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, nine was a total disaster. With the wind at his back, he flew the green right on two approach attempts. On nine, that means you’re in the juice. Now hitting six, he flew the green left and couldn’t get up and down, making a quintuple bogey nine. Ugly.

The final insult was on eighteen, where Appleby put his tee shot in the ocean and took a two-bagger.

As for Little, he just played like shit from the get-go with two bogeys and two doubles to start his day, three bogeys in a row on twelve, thirteen and fourteen and a second shot on eighteen that went over the sea wall which led to a seven. Truth be told, Little’s game went over the wall long before that.

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH GERNEY TOUR SECOND ROUND

SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST: Peter Thomson moved out of the gate quickly yesterday with an 8-under par 63. Though today’s 68 was more pedestrian, he’s still on top of the leaderboard by one over George Archer.

Superb approach shots on two (one foot) and three (four feet) led to back-to-back birdies. A 23-foot putt on the short par three seventh ran his score to 11-under. Unfortunately, Thomson couldn’t sustain the hot start and saw birdies on eleven and eighteen canceled out by bogeys on eight and sixteen. Still, eighteen left Thomson with a good taste in his mouth as he laid up a bit short on his second shot at the par five and got up and down from 42 yards.

Like Thomson, Archer started quickly yesterday as well, with a 65. And, like Thomson, he had a good start on the front nine, with four birdies to run his score to 10-under. It could have been 11-under, except he hit a beautiful 3-wood out of the right rough on the par five sixth, stopping his ball within four feet of the pin. Facing an almost “gimme” eagle, he rimmed the cup and had to settle for birdie. Like Thomson, he couldn’t sustain the quick start with birdies on fourteen and fifteen canceled out by bogeys on nine and twelve. Unlike Thomson, though he, too, faced a forty-something yard pitch on eighteen, he couldn’t get up and down and had to settle for par.

ROUNDS OF THE DAY:

Jack Nicklaus shot 40 on the back side yesterday, including a rotten eighteenth hole where he trudged off the green with a bogey and a 5-over 76. After that round and with half the field at par or better, he figured he wouldn’t be around for the weekend even if he came back today with a 67 or 68. That bogey on two today, where he couldn’t convert an easy chip from in front of the green into an up and down par, didn’t brighten his mood any.

He did get up and down on three and two-putted on four. But those were only pars and he was still at 6-over.

But then something clicked.

A 23-foot putt on the par three fifth got the gallery cheering. A five-iron on six after a 323-yard drive saw him knock in a five-footer for eagle. Flirting with death on nine as his approach was only a few feet from heading down the cliff, he chipped in for birdie. 32 on the front and 2-over for the tourney. A couple good holes on the back and maybe he could slip in just under the cut line.

Ten and eleven were routine pars. With a favorable pin placement on the par three twelfth, meaning the front bunker was out of play for most, he landed nine feet away and knocked that in for birdie. 1-over. After a par on thirteen, he got up and down from 50 yards on the par five fourteenth for another birdie. Even par. Approach shots on fifteen and sixteen were only OK and he two-putted for par on both. With the easy right side pin placement on the par three seventeenth, he overshot the green by a couple feet. But a neat little pitch and run found the center of the cup. 1-under now and the cheers were deafening.

Off to eighteen. Playing a bit safe, he pulled a 3-wood from his bag and still banged it 288 and right where he aimed it–down the left side. From 255, with the wind at his back, he played 3-iron and got every bit of it, landing his ball on the green. Facing a 15-foot putt at a cup which must have looked the size of a manhole the way he was playing, Nicklaus knocked it home for his second eagle of the day. Even his playing partners, Mark O’Meara, who’d barely make the cut, and Mike Souchak, who barely wouldn’t, were applauding Nicklaus’ impressive performance.

With a 63 today and 3-under for the tournament, Nicklaus, who just about considered himself a lost cause this week after his first twenty holes, is tied for seventeenth place.

And there was still one better…

Retief Goosen, playing with Robert Karlsson and Chad Campbell, didn’t have anywhere near the gallery of Nicklaus. And so he did his work in relative silence. Matter of fact, with Nicklaus twenty groups behind, Goosen was done before Nicklaus started really rolling.

Like Nicklaus, Goosen also shot 40 on the back nine yesterday. Fortunately, he had played the front in 2-under and so 73 wasn’t that God-awful. He just couldn’t afford to play over par today.

Goosen gave himself some breathing room with birdies on one and two. One was a 30-foot putt and two was a 5-iron approach from 193 which stopped within five feet. Another long putt on seven (26 feet) followed by a fine approach on seven and Goosen was out in a more than respectable 31 and a 2-under par score through 27 holes.

The back nine didn’t start off well as Goosen’s tee shot went way left. Faced with a rotten lie, he could only advance the ball a bit more than a hundred yards, eventually walking away with a bogey five.

But then he found another gear as a chip in on eleven for birdie erased the bogey he made less than fifteen minutes ago. A 6-iron on twelve stopped within four feet and another birdie. After a mammoth 354 yard blast on thirteen, he got up and down from 48 yards for another birdie. And on the difficult to reach in two par five fourteenth with a nasty green awaiting any approach shot, Goosen did just that, smoking a 3-iron from 261 to within a foot of a double eagle. A 29-foot putt from just off the back of the green on seventeen ran his score to 9-under for the round. Looking at a chance for 61, or even 60, he put his tee shot on eighteen behind the big tree and was forced to accept a par when he couldn’t get up and down from 110.

Goosen’s 62 bolted him right up the leaderboard into a four-way tie for fourth at 7-under.

Speaking of “bolt,” there’s Tommy Bolt, who had the shot of the day:

Twelfth hole, 206 with the most accessible pin placement as described under Mr. Nicklaus’ write-up. Out comes the six iron…right on target as it bounces a few feet in from the front of the green…and the ball rolls in! That helped Bolt finish with a 2-under 69 and a two-round total of 6-under and a three-way tie for eighth.

TWO AND OUT:

With the cut line at +3, not sticking around for the weekend include Player, Barber, Verplank and Azinger (+4), Weiskopf (+5), Furyk and Montgomerie (+6), Singh and Shute (+7), Demaret and Els (+8), Pavin and Little (+10 as Little followed his 80 yesterday with a 72). And, Stuart Appleby, who also shot an 80 yesterday, followed with another just like it, his +18 being five shots worse than anybody else (Walt Burkemo, by the way, at 76-79, +13).

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH GERNEY TOUR THIRD ROUND

Peter Thomson started the day at 11-under. With a birdie right out of the gate and another on six, he ran his score to 13-under and, at one time, led by six shots.

Then came a train wreck which made Gomez Addams look like a piker.

Thomson came up very short on the par three seventh as the wind swatted his ball down. A chip and not one, not two, but three putts from 12 feet later and he had a double bogey five. A second shot into the right side bunker on eight turned into a bogey as did a tee shot into the bunker on nine.

The back nine didn’t change Thomson’s fortunes any as he deposited his tee shot on ten off the cliff and onto the beach eventually leading to another double bogey. Three consecutive pars stopped the bleeding for a little while. But an errant approach from sixty yards on the par five fourteenth saw Thomson drop yet another stroke. An errant tee shot followed by an errant approach followed by an errant pitch on fifteen led to still another bogey. Forget about dropping strokes; Thomson was about to stroke out. The final insult came on seventeen. Ending up on the far right side of the green with the pin on the left, Thomson didn’t trust his chipping ability anymore and elected to putt from over 90 feet with his putt taking a line through the back fringe. Actually, it wasn’t a bad putt as it stopped within eight feet. But he two-putted that with a par on eighteen closing out a 41 back side, 78 overall, 4-under for the tournament and a drop into a three-way tie for eleventh place.

Inheriting the lead was the accurate Englishman who was used to playing in the strong winds, JH Taylor. Going out in even par thanks to two birdies and two bogeys, timely birdies at fifteen (a thirteen foot putt) and sixteen (dropping a seventeen footer) lowered his score to 9-under and a two-shot lead over Walter Hagen (2-under 69 today), Gene Sarazen (even-par 71) and the man who was all alone in second yesterday, George Archer (3-over 74).

ROUNDS OF THE DAY: Phil Mickelson, with a 5-under 66, moving into a four-way tie for fifth at 6-under. Mickelson played the ten hole stretch from six through fifteen in six-under with his best shot coming at the par-three twelfth. With the pin very accessible in the back center, Mickelson parked a 206-yard 6-iron within “gimme” distance. And, for the third straight day, he birdied eighteen, smacking a 3-iron 261 yards and two-putting from 27 feet.

Bob Rosburg, also with a 66, went out in 30 thanks to five birdies thanks, in part, to a birdie at three where he stopped a 127-yard 9-iron on the rim of the cup, and on nine, where he holed out a bunker shot. Rosburg would have had THE round of the day if his third shot approach on eighteen had hit the green. Unable to get up and down, he finished his day with a bogey.

YOU MEAN I GET PAID FOR THIS?: Jerry Heard, who comfortably made the cut at even par, went to hell in a handbasket with an 83. His round was lousy, no question about that. But it was two of the par threes which bit him in the ass. On five, the hole Nicklaus and his high fade redesigned, Heard pushed a 4-iron into the drink, missed the green with his second tee shot and took three to get up and down. Lovely three-bagger. Seventeen was just a horror. Pushing his tee shot way right, he chili-dipped his next two before hitting his fourth short and into one of the traps in the back of the green. Number five left him twelve feet away where he two-putted for a four-bagger. That’s seven strokes gone right there. Five other bogeys and Heard finished 12-over for the day and will have the first tee time tomorrow. And, with an odd number of golfers (77) still playing, Heard will get to play by and with himself and will collect a few grand at the end of the day.

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH GERNEY TOUR FINAL ROUND

The final pairing of the day ceased to exist by somewhere around the twelfth hole.

JH Taylor, the leader starting play today at 9-under, went out in 2-over 37 and did manage to birdie ten before he staggered around the greens at eleven and twelve, double bogeying both and dropping off the top of the leaderboard like a rock.

His playing partner, Walter Hagen, dropped three shots on the front side and another on ten before birdieing eleven. A bogey on seventeen and a tee shot into the water on eighteen leading to a double bogey would just be sort of a coda for Hagen as he and Taylor both finished with 6-over 77s. By then, Lance Barrow and the boys in the CBS truck had forgotten all about those two.

The other two gentlemen who started play in second place today, George Archer and Gene Sarazen, both played well. For Archer, his 2-under 69 moved him to 9-under. For Sarazen, a 70 was one stroke short.

But there was someone else in the top ten yesterday who made shots when he had to and joined Archer at 9-under. Though his name was Palmer, it wasn’t Arnie. This Palmer was Johnny. Arnie, by the way, finished tied for 61st at 6-over. Johnny Palmer, in the fourth to last group with Frank Beard (who also dropped off the radar with a 75), shot a 3-under 68 and will be headed to a playoff with Archer.

As for Archer, he was up and down most of the day with four birdies and four bogeys. The difference for him came on the par-five fourteenth. First he smoked a 327-yard drive. Then, 250 yards out with the wind at his back and a difficult trap in front of the green right in his line, he hit a 3-iron to within fifteen feet and dropped the putt for an eagle. With a chance to win on eighteen, his approach shot from 60 yards was off line. Maybe he was playing safe and maybe he wasn’t, but there was no way he wanted to leave himself the putt he did. But he did manage to two-putt from 34 feet sending the match into overtime.

As for Palmer, he had a run of four holes on the front side which he played in 3-under. He managed to birdie the par five sixth even after hitting his tee shot short and into the left side bunker, hit a lousy shot out leaving him 110 yards. But he got up and down after hitting close and making an eight-foot putt. After a par on seven, his approach on the picturesque eighth stopped five feet away and he made that putt for a birdie three. And, on nine, a shanked tee shot was followed by a pretty darned good 4-iron to the green with Palmer making the 15-footer for another birdie. Unlike Archer, fourteen was a disaster for Palmer as he flew the green with his second and took four to get down from in front of the TV tower.

Palmer was actually two down heading into eighteen. More about that in a moment.

On eighteen, Palmer went for broke and pounded a drive past the trees on the right side of the fairway. The person operating the laser device said “310 yards.” With 245 to go, Palmer went with a 3-iron. Pulling it just a bit, he landed in the bunker next to the sea wall. Left with a good lie, his sand shot stopped four feet from the pin and he made the putt for birdie to put him at 9-under.

Palmer was two down starting eighteen as Archer, 10-under coming into seventeen, put his tee shot on the wrong side of the green. Actually, it wasn’t even on it and he had to chip from the rough between the green and the trap in back of him. Unfortunately, he didn’t get his chip close, two-putted from 17 feet and dropped a stroke. A par on eighteen and we have a playoff starting at eighteen. If one hole doesn’t settle accounts, then it’s seven, eight, nine and ten as The Chairman is offering a veritable smorgasbord of holes to find out who the best golfer this week is.

Rounding out the top ten were the already mentioned Sarazen (70 today, -8), Nick Price (68, -7), week one winner Tiger Woods (70), Bruce Devlin(71) and Phil Mickelson (72), all at -5, first and second round leader Peter Thomson (71, -4) and, in a four-way tie for ninth, Olin Dutra (70), Chick Harbert (69), Art Wall (66) and third round leader JH Taylor (77).

Who’s moving where next week after the playoff.

THIRD EVENT PEBBLE BEACH GERNEY TOUR PLAYOFF – FIRST HOLE
GEORGE ARCHER vs. JOHNNY PALMER

Archer was the first to tee off on eighteen. He chose a 3-wood and hit it safely and very well too, 283 down the left side leaving a clean shot at the green. Palmer also went with a 3-wood but pushed his shot into the right hand bunker. He’d have to lay up with his second.

Which is what he did, hitting a 2-iron just right of the center of the fairway leaving 55 yards and no obstacles between him and the pin on the middle left. Archer went for the green with a 3-iron. About a half hour ago, he had played safe. But seeing an opening now, he revised his strategy. Unfortunately, he hit it a bit fat, pushing his shot to the right a bit and short, leaving himself in a bad lie behind the front right trap.

Palmer was first to go with his third shot and, with a seemingly easy pitch from 60 yards, just mis-hit it. Though he made it to the green, he’d be facing a putt of over 40 feet. Archer, seeing another opening, got more grass than ball. Though he made it over the trap, he came up just short of the green, his ball stopping on the fringe nearly 50 feet away.

It was still Archer’s turn as he surveyed his fourth shot. Deciding to take out his putter, he missed just left, leaving himself a three-footer which he promptly drained for par.

Palmer needed two putts from 43 feet to keep the match going. Figuring he’d get it close, take his par and take the match over to the seventh hole, he put his putt right on line and it kept going and going and, if he had even more roll of the ball to make it he wouldn’t have, his ball trickling into the cup for a tournament-winning birdie.

Too bad for Archer who, as a full-time Staffa Tour member got bumped up after a solid week one performance and remained on the Gerney Tour with a fourth place finish last week, would have gotten a full-time Gerney ticket with a win. Palmer, on the other hand, is a full-time Gerney Tour member.

I LIFT THINGS UP AND PUT THEM DOWN (God, I hate that commercial):
Moving down to the Staffa Tour (12): Azinger, Janzen, Ferguson, Finsterwald, Shute, Chad Campbell, Demaret, Zarhardt, Hubert Green, Cerda, Burkemo, Appleby.

Up from Staffa (10): Sam Snead (full Gerney card), Jerry Pate, Old Tom Morris, Couples, Fernie, Bayer, Jacklin, Ogilvy, Rogers, Vardon.

Down to Ruckhaus (23): Andrade, Bubba Watson, Ouimet, Ozaki, Allem, Coody, January, Morley, Twitty, Fetchik, Ken Green, Maxwell, Waldorf, Hinson, Sikes, Vossler, Cruickshank, Frederik Jacobson, Marsh, Eastwood, Mahan, Mudd, Todd Hamilton.

Up from Ruckhaus (16): Golden (full Staffa card), Casey, Pott, Ellis, Harney, Lotz, Ray, Sneed, Villegas, Denis Watson, Weir, Austin, Bembridge, Fergus, Earl Stewart, Rummels, Jamie Anderson.

By |2017-02-13T11:23:09+00:00November 25th, 2011|The Tour Archives|Comments Off on The Tour – Pebble Beach

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