Notes: Murray-Points title defense ends

D.A. Points, left, and comedian Bill Murray after winning the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

D.A. Points, left, and comedian Bill Murray after winning the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – It’s not quite going from the penthouse to the outhouse, but one year has made quite a difference for Pebble Beach icon Bill Murray.

Still basking in the glory of his team win alongside D.A. Points in the 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, Murray got painful news a few hours after his third round that he had missed the cut on a tiebreaker. One of four teams to finish at 18-under 196, Points and Murray were ousted, because the tiebreaker had come down to four teams for three spots.

While it ended badly, one would have to give Points and Murray credit for a spirited effort. They had started poorly, a 2-under 70 at Spyglass, only to come back with a 60 at Monterey. In Round 3 Saturday, Points birdied the par-4 16th and Murray made a dramatic birdie, net eagle at the 18th to get into the four-way tie for 23rd.

Since the tie-breaker was based on the pro’s score, Murray was doomed because Points finished at 3 under. Davis Love (4 under) got in with Bobby Long, as did Brian Gay (6 under) with John Donahoe and Jonas Blixt (6 under) with John Stafford.

Making it even more painful, Points bogeyed the 18th or he would have tied Love at 4 under and . . . well, who knows what the next tiebreaker was? Bottom line is, there will be no successful title defense for Carl Spackler.

• • •

HEADLINERS TOGETHER: There are a number of dimensions to the pairings here at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, so they don’t spit out quite as quickly as they do every other week. First, the cut is low 60 and ties, not low 70. Next, some pros who miss the cut actually have to play a fourth round to compete in the team portion. And finally, there are threesomes and foursomes, depending on which pros need to have an amateur partner with them.

All that aside, when finally the pairings were official, fans were rewarded with the first Tiger Woods-Phil Mickelson pairing of the season. They will go off in the penultimate pairing, at 9:29 a.m. PST. They will be with their amateur partners because Mickelson and Skip McGee are T-12 at 20-under, Woods and Tony Romo T-15 at 19-under.

Three pros who’ll play Sunday, but strictly for their pro-am team competition – Sam Saunders with Dick Ferris; Scott Dunlap with Nikesh Arora; and Kent Jones and Ken Rosen.

Regarding the team competition, Padraig Harrington and J.P. McManus posted a 66 at Spyglass Hill and own a three-stroke lead.

• • •

COMEBACK KIDS: Tommy Gillis started his tournament at Pebble Beach on Thursday and was 4 over through five holes, then he sat 3 over through his first 24 holes. But Saturday at Monterey Peninsula, he birdied three of his last seven holes to finish one inside the cut, after having missed the cut in each of his first three starts . . . Pat Perez birdied the 18th at Spyglass Hill to make the cut on the number . . . Heath Slocum started with a Thursday 74, but recovered to make the cut on the number . . . Rookie Harris English birdied his 54th hole, the par-4 ninth, to make the cut on the number . . . Another rookie, John Huh, continued his strong start, shooting 71 at Pebble Beach to make the cut on the number. He’s made the cut in each of his four starts.

• • •

EARLY EXITS: When the cut fell at 1-under 213, 68 players had made it into the final 18 holes. Among the notables who missed were Rickie Fowler, Brendan Steele, Bud Cauley, David Duval and Trevor Immelman . . . James Driscoll started his final round 2 under and tied for 51st and was still 1 under at the turn. But with a cold wind whipping, Driscoll came home in 41 and shot 78 to miss the cut.

• • •

PERSONALIZING THINGS: ShotLink towers have been a permanent fixture at PGA Tour venues since 1999, but few, if any, of them have been personalized. That’s not the case at Pebble Beach’s short, par-4 fourth hole where as many as 10 stuffed monkeys hang from the scaffolding.

Said a volunteer: “We’re trained by monkeys; we’re authorized by monkeys; we’re just monkeys.”

• • •

SAME OLD STORY: The green continues to confound and players keep waiting for it to be ripped up and changed, but for now, the par-5 14th at Pebble Beach remains a challenge. For three days, it has played like it always plays: exceedingly tough.

No data are available for the amateurs, thank goodness, but for the 155 pros there has been a 54-hole field average of 5.284, making it the third-toughest hole. (The par-3 12th ranks toughest, the par-4 ninth second-toughest.)

Tiger Woods has one of the 17 birdies at the 14th as he hit a 110-yard wedge to 12 feet en route to a back-nine 32.

• • •

HOT STUFF: Cindy Davis, the president of Nike Golf, is like many who work in the golf business: she rarely gets a chance to play golf. So when she was invited to play this week, the one-time Furman All-American jumped at the chance. After a slow start at Spyglass (a handicapped-aided 68), Davis got her game in high gear, shooting 65 at Monterey and 66 Saturday at Pebble Beach.

Davis made a natural eagle on the par-5 second, knocking her 6-iron from 145 yards to 3 feet.

“It was the highlight of my round,” Davis said.

Unfortunately, Davis and Kevin Chappell missed the cut.

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