Rain creates long, wet walks at Pebble Beach
Thursday, February 6, 2014
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – For the most part, he could handle the blustery, cold wind. And the rain that was coming in sideways? Graeme McDowell is stout enough to accept that. But when he heard the really bad news, he nearly jumped out from beneath his umbrella.
“What?” he exclaimed when told that no shuttles were yet available, so best he and his group start the long, wet walk in from the third green at Spyglass Hills Golf Course. Just 50 minutes after it had begun, the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am had been halted because of standing water that had started to puddle up on the putting greens.
McDowell and his father, Kenny, along with Jason Bohn and his partner, the actor Chris O’Donnell, could offer testimony to the conditions. There was standing water at Spyglass’ third green, though none of it would interfere with birdie putts that all of them had. Still, it’s standard practice and when word surfaced that puddles were a big problem at Pebble Beach Golf Links, everyone knew the drill.
“My first good shot, too,” Kenny McDowell said with a smile as he began the long walk toward a roadside stop between the first green and second tee where rides would await them. “Such a shame.”
Having made pars at each of his first two holes, Graeme McDowell was one of 36 players who had posted scores. More than half the field of 156 professionals had not yet started when a story older than hickory entered the equation: Pebble weather.
Normally, cold, wind, and rain wouldn’t register as news in these parts – and especially so during this famed pro-am – but in this dry, warm winter of 2013-14, it is headline stuff. In the throes of a drought that has lasted months, the rain is seen as much-needed – and to heck with any inconvenience brought upon the PGA Tour. But the timing of it all brings to mind something a PGA Tour rules official said during last fall’s Presidents Cup in Dublin, Ohio, which was inundated by days of rain.
“You want rain? Just invite the PGA Tour,” he quipped, and the joke was recalled as the matter of transportation was discussed among the McDowell group at the third green.
“Let’s see, how many of us can fit on that cart? Twelve,” O’Donnell joked after spying one lone golf cart.
But it was not for them and so the four players, their four caddies, and a few friends began their walk. Graeme McDowell seemed to take it all in stride; it is, after all, a fact of life for his PGA Tour brethren, these weather delays, and so he merely shrugged.
“It would normally be one of the most picturesque spots to be,” said the world’s 15th-ranked player. “But today you can’t see a thing.”
There was thick fog out over the ocean, the temperature was in the neighborhood of 55 degrees, and it felt colder with a 20-mph wind. This sort of weather always has been part of this tournament’s character, though clearly it was going to be a hinderance for anyone wanting to score. Of the 36 who had posted scores, five had made birdie, though John Daly wasn’t one of them.
In fact, Long John bogeyed the 359-yard, par-4 second playing in the group right behind McDowell and Bohn. Now going into a long, wet walk on the heels of a bogey is not a pleasant circumstance, but Daly would at least have entertainment along the way, his playing partner Kid Rock. They are quite the match, a couple of hard-living guys in this high-brow environment, though at this moment they were all the exact same.
They were in search of dry quarters.