Robert Garrigus is sporting a Chicago Blackhawks logo on his golf bag these days, with “Kane 88” emblazoned on it. It recognizes Chicago’s brilliant 25-year-old right winger, Patrick Kane, arguably one of the premier scorers in the NHL.
Clearly a Blackhawks fan, even though he grew up in Oregon, Garrigus said he wanted to have both Kane and Chicago’s other electrifying scorer, Jonathan Toews, on the bag, but the team said just one.
“I don’t know if people have seen the You Tube stick-handling video (by Kane). It’s one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Garrigus. “He’s a special player, one of my favorites. He’s young and crazy and fiery.”
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FORMAT FITS HIM: Count Garrigus among the many fans of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. “I just enjoy meeting all these people who make it happen for us out here,” he said.
“I met Chuck Schwab and I’ve met a few billionaires and they’re good people to know. You never know when you’re going to strike up a friendship or a future sponsorship. It’s more of a blessing to meet these people (than a burden to play three days).”
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GOING LOW AT PEBBLE: Dustin Johnson certainly provided more fodder for the case that Pebble Beach Golf Links sets up nicely for him. He’s won the AT&T Pro-Am twice, of course, and there was the 2010 U.S. Open that he led through 54 holes. This year, Johnson shot 70-66 at Pebble, which was four strokes better than the eventual winner, Jimmy Walker (67-74).
(Walker dominated Spyglass and Monterey Peninsula, going 7-under for those 36 holes, as opposed to Johnson’s 2-under.)
But if you’re thinking Johnson was unmatched at Pebble, think again. Victor Dubuisson of France shot 67 Friday, 69 Sunday to match the American at 8-under.
Next best after Johnson and Dubuisson was Graeme McDowell (72-67, or 5-under), which sort of validates the Northern Irishman’s U.S. Open win there in 2010, eh?
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PEPPERDINE, TIMES TWO: When Jason Gore shot 65 and Jason Allred had 66 at a Monday qualifier to earn two of the four spots into the Northern Trust Open, it was a local story with different twists. Gore, 39, and Allred, 33, both went to Pepperdine, not far from Riviera. While the former will be playing for the eighth time in the Northern Trust, Allred will be getting his first opportunity.
It’s a true home game for Gore, as he lives perhaps 30 miles from the famed Riviera CC, but neither he nor Allred have PGA Tour status this season. Allred, in fact, hasn’t played in a PGA Tour event since finishing T-47 in the 2010 U.S. Open.
Gore did get into the Frys.com Open to start the 2013-14 season (he was T-26), but his status this year is on the Web.com Tour.
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SEASON-OPENER: Speaking of the Web.com Tour, its season gets underway this week with the Pacific Rubiales Colombia championship and sprinkled into the field are some veterans who remain committed to regaining PGA Tour status. Among them: Rod Pampling, Todd Hamilton, Nick O’Hern, Jesper Parnevik, Billy Mayfair, Peter Lonard, Ted Purdy, Casey Wittenberg, and Brett Wetterich.
Pampling missed the cut at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, his first PGA Tour start since Wyndham last August, but he’s not the only one making the trip from California to Colombia. Alex Cejka and Ben Kohles were both T-56 at Pebble Beach, now they’re in Colombia, while Dicky Pride is there, too, after having finished joint 35th at Pebble. Justin Thomas and Andrew Svoboda also played Pebble and are on the Web.com Tour stage this week.
Also in the Colombia field: Len Mattiace, though a piece of his heart might be at the Northern Trust Open, site of his first PGA Tour win 12 years ago.
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REMEMBER HIM? It was a small note to the festivities at Pebble Beach, but David Duval was in a share of 35th, his best finish since a T-9 at Riviera in 2011. Duval has now made six cuts in 29 starts dating back to 2012.
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WET, YES, BUT STILL DRY: Had you tuned in to the AT&T Pebble Beach action and watched golfers bundled up in rain suits and playing four days of lift, clean, and place, you’d probably scoff at the notion that there was so much talk of a drought in California.
But fact is, there still is. The rain they received over the four days hardly puts a dent into the water crisis out there and, in fact, there was evidence of it all over the famed layout. Most noticeably, the hill to the left of the sixth fairway. Normally that is gnarly rough, but when officials had to turn off the irrigation there, all that area burned out.
Aesthetically pleasing? Perhaps not, but players sure loved it. With the fairway sopping wet, some players – especially the shorter ones – aimed left so that balls could roll more favorably than in the wetter, softer areas.
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COMPARING NUMBERS: It’s not often that those back-nine par 5s at Pebble Beach – the 14th and 18th – play similarly, but that was the case this year. Normally, the 573-yard 14th is considerably tougher than the 543-yard 18th, but at least for the first three days, the wind was hurting at 18 and helping at 14.
The numbers reflected it, too. While the 18th played second-easiest, at a field average of 4.876, the 14th was about the same; it played third-easiest, at 4.881.
The easiest, no surprise, was the par-5 second (4.482).
Per usual, the 446-yard, par-4 10th was a beast, with a field average of 4.463 to rank toughest. It yielded the fewest birdies, eight, but most telling were the number of double-bogeys – 15, which was five more than the next hole in this category.
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BLAST FROM THE PAST: Ben Garner may have melted into the scenery as just one of more than 300 caddies used for the first three days of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, but his connection to golf has some substance. In the AJGA record books, Garner’s seven career wins are surpassed by only five players, three of whom are named Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, and Charles Howell.
Had Garner at one time envisioned himself a future participant in this Pebble Beach show, he had good reason, given his golf talent. But after LSU, Garner’s chase of pro golf never materialized for a litany of reasons. “Bad injuries, a serious case of the yips, then I got in a car accident that kept me out of golf for three years,” he told the forecaddie.
But no worries; he said that things have worked out beautifully. He sells real estate on the Big Island of Hawaii and plays golf at Kuki’O Golf and Beach Club. That’s where he became friends with the icon of the surfing world, Kelly Slater, who recruited Garner to be his caddie in this annual AT&T tournament.
“I’ve been friends with Kelly for 16 years,” said Garner, 37. “I’ve caddied for him in this event for four years and it’s a blast.”