PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – As Hunter Mahan toured Monterey Peninsula in 5-under 65 in the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, he avoided looking at whatever leaderboards were out there.
Not that he wasn’t interested; it’s more that this is one tournament where leaderboards don’t matter.
“There are three courses, three days, and with the weather supposedly pretty good every day, it’s basically just playing golf until Sunday,” Mahan said. “Until Sunday, the leaderboard doesn’t really matter.”
To a point, Padraig Harrington agrees, but he did say it bothered him early in the first round when he was struggling at Monterey, only to see “that everyone else seemed to be playing well.”
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Though he bogeyed three of his first seven holes after starting at Monterey’s 10th hole, Harrington’s Irish eyes were still smiling. That’s because his amateur partner, J.P. McManus, was on fire.
On those bogey holes by Harrington, McManus made par, par, birdie, scoring two net birdies and a net eagle. “He helped me seven shots on the first nine alone,” Harrington gushed. Though as an individual he was joint 41st after rebounding with a 2-under 68, Harrington was thrilled to be tied for the lead in the pro-am division.
“We’ve won twice in pro-ams,” Harrington said of he and McManus, “but 13 under is the best we’ve ever done.”
Danny Lee, who finished the day tied for the lead at 9 under with Charlie Wi and Dustin Johnson, paired with Steve Green to also shoot 13 under.
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With Paul McGinley not here, there was an opening in the usual pairing of Irishmen at this pro-am. Harrington played with McManus, as he often does, and Charley Hoffman was in as Dermot Desmond’s partner.
“I’m an adopted Irishman for the week,” Hoffman said.
The kid from San Diego certainly did his part, what with a green glove, green belt, and white and green golf shoes. Hoffman also played well, shooting 3-under 67 as he and Desmond finished at 7 under.
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Prime scoring conditions, ideal conditions, smoother-than-usual greens. It all added up to a day of red numbers as 87 players broke par.
By any measure, Monterey Peninsula yielded the best scoring chances. The scoring average there was 68.942, or 1.058 under par. It was .962 under par at Pebble Beach, .731 under par at Spyglass Hills.
Still, the diversity on the leaderboard proves it was a fair and equitable day here on the Monterey Peninsula. Of the best 26 scores, 11 were recorded at Pebble, eight at Monterey Peninsula, seven at Spyglass Hill.
Putting Tiger Woods’ 4-under 68 into better focus, it leaves him tied for 15th, but there were only three better scores at his course, Spyglass Hill. Nick Watney and Kevin Na both fired 66 there, while Bob Estes had 67.
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Short shots: Team-wise, Woods was helped a little by Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, even though he’s down as a scratch handicap. Woods and Romo finished at 7 under . . . . But here’s some bad news for enthusiasts of the amateur flavor here: it looks like Bill Murray’s title defense came didn’t last very long. Over at Spyglass, Murray and D.A. Points struggled to a 2-under 70 in the team format, and that puts them tied for 121st, already a whopping 11 back. Points, who is trying to defend the individual title here, opened with a 72.