PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Eight months ago on the visit to Pebble Beach, Dustin Johnson lost his grip on the U.S. Open trophy with a miserable approach to the second hole and a wild drive at the third.
Twelve months ago on the visit to Pebble Beach, we toasted a second straight victory in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
OK, so which memory takes hold? The good or the bad? The yin or the yang?
“Neither,” Johnson said. “I’m just coming out to play the golf course. I love the golf course.”
Of course, also involved in this iconic tournament are two other venues – Monterey Peninsula and Spyglass Hill. So where was Johnson going to warm up Wednesday?
“Might go over to Cypress and play a few (holes), too,” Johnson said.
Curious, because that’s not in the rota, is it?
“No, it’s not. It’s in my rotation,” Johnson said.
On second thought, not such a curious choice. After all, it’s Cypress Point.
And with that, five thoughts that help you jump into the 65th edition of the ol’ clambake:
1.) How does Pebble combat Dubai’s firepower?
Sure, Nos. 1, 2, and 3 are in the Middle East, but Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula, and Spyglass are 1, 2, and 3 on the list of best golf courses hosting PGA and European tour events this week.
Besides, having Nos. 4 (Phil Mickelson), 10 (Jim Furyk), and 14 (Dustin Johnson) in the field is nothing to dismiss.
2.) So, which money list resonates with you?
Included in this week’s field are four players who ranked top 10 on last year’s money list – Furyk, Johnson, Mickelson, and Hunter Mahan. They combined for $16.7 million.
But also in the field are three names from Forbes’ list of the 400 richest Americans – Jeremy Jacobs, Bill Gross, and Todd Wagner. Their worth is tabbed at a combined $5.4 billion.
3.) Perhaps they can compare jet lag?
There’s a bit of a contrast to the pros in Group 11 that will go off Thursday morning at 9:17 from Monterey Peninsula’s first tee. That’s because Matt Bettencourt will maintain perfect attendance, playing in all six PGA Tour tournaments thus far this season, while John Daly will tee it up for a third straight week.
But while Daly has required approximately 16,455 miles to go from San Diego to Qatar to Pebble Beach the last three weeks, Bettencourt has needed to travel just 8,244 miles to go from his home in South Carolina to Maui to Honolulu to Palm Springs to San Diego to Phoenix to Pebble Beach.
And the moral of that story for Daly: Play better, get exempt, travel less.
4.) Which pairings are the most intriguing?
This is strictly subjective, but here are some that jump out at us:
• Billy Andrade and Brandi Chastain paired with Keegan Bradley and Heidi Ueberroth. What’s more, Keegan’s aunt, Hall of Famer Pat Bradley, is going to be watching from outside the ropes.
• Tim Petrovic and Bill Belichick paired with James Driscoll and Herman Edwards. Surely, football talk could dominate, but a word of warning to Edwards, the onetime Jets’ coach: Belichick, Petrovic, and Driscoll have strong New England ties.
• Jeff Maggert and Clay Walker paired with Kevin Streelman and Toby Mac. Country? Christian? Your musical tastes are covered here.
• Justin Leonard and Oliver Hudson paired with Chris DiMarco and Kurt Russell. Passionate about these opportunities, Hudson and the man he considers to be his father, Russell, will have a front row seat to two guys who go against the grain and don’t emply the bombs-away strategy.
• Andres Romero and Oscar de la Hoya paired with Jesper Parnevik and Tom Dreesen. While Romero and de la Hoya can knock you out with birdies and punches, laughs should flow from Parnevik (his father was a well-known comic in Sweden) and Dreesen (longtime Hollywood funnyman).
5.) When you’re hot . . . you’re talked out?
In addition to being one of the PGA Tour’s most genuine guys, Mark Wilson is on a roll. With two wins in three starts, Wilson has piled up $2,098,700 to already surpass what he’s ever made in a season.
But as a concession to the hectic transition from TPC Scottsdale (where he won Monday) to Pebble Beach (where he arrived Tuesday) and the multitude of media responsibilities he fulfilled in between, Wilson escaped to the serenity of Monterey Peninsula Wednesday to catch his breath.
Media folks who had hoped to get a word with Wilson shouldn’t be offended. He’s a stand-up guy who’ll be there when needed.