NCGA Golf

Winter 2018

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Hall of Fame in September, isn't the only standout player who has won the Monterey Peninsula's long-running event, which is as much a part of the PGA Tour as repeating swings and courtesy cars. The roster of marquee winners spans decades, from Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson to Billy Casper and Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller to Mickelson and Tiger Woods. In 2017, after Jordan Spieth became the second-youngest AT&T Pebble Beach champion at age 23—John Cook was 2½ months younger at the time of his 1981 victory—he made it clear that the current generation treasures the tournament too. "This is a bucket-list place to win," Spieth told reporters. "Here. Augusta National. St. Andrews. I mean, there's only a few in the world. It really feels special. It was amaz- ing walking up the 18th green knowing that we were going to win. It's just such a unique position. I tried to soak it in." A player doesn't have to be one of the sport's familiar stars to appreciate the venue—or the vibe. PGA Tour veteran D.A. Points, who won the 2011 title—and the Pro-Am competition with actor Bill Murray, one of only six champions in the last three decades to double up—has an easy answer when asked about his favorite course on tour. "Even before I won, I always said Pebble Beach," says Points, who grew up in Mid- west cornfield country. "It has history, with all the AT&Ts and majors that have been played there. Visually, it's one of the most spectacular courses. Then you throw in the best players in the world and some of the best personalities in the world. You ball all that up, and that's what makes it so special." Love missed the cut the first three times he played in the tournament but gained valuable perspective in his early trips to the Monterey Peninsula. He found himself grouped with Mark O'Meara, whose five victories (1985, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997) make him the most successful player in the event's history, with Mickelson (four wins) and Nicklaus and Miller (three each) the others with at least three titles. "I learned from Mark," Love says. "He just loved playing in the event, loved playing with amateurs in an event that had a lot of history. He enjoyed it, and therefore he played better." En route to winning in 2001, Love shot the lowest final round in AT&T history (63, with a front-nine 28), while rallying from a seven-stroke 54-hole deficit to beat Olin Browne and Mickelson. The final-round comeback matched Bob Rosburg's in 1961 as the largest at the event. Love has earned more than $2.5 mil- lion at the AT&T, but prize money is down the list when he goes down his Monterey Peninsula memory lane. "You get to meet a who's who of golf. You'll never build better business relationships than you will at Pebble Beach," he says. "Ten of my best friends have come from playing at Pebble Beach. Guys like (businessman and AT&T pro-am regular) Jim Griggs and Jon Linen, a longtime American Express executive, have been second fathers and advisors to me." Points has been paired with Murray six times, the latter missing one year since 2011 when he was on the road promoting a movie. Each tournament with Murray has been an adventure, but the maiden partnership is indelible. "We found out on a Tuesday that we were paired together," Points says. "The next day Bill called me. 'I got your number from the Monterey Police Department,' half-joking. He said he was going over to Cypress Point late and asked me to join him. We were the last group on the course. We played the 16th with the sun falling into the ocean. You can't even imagine how pretty it was." Knowing that being with the gallery- drawing Murray would make it an atmos- phere far from any he'd experienced, Points vowed to soak it all in. "I said to my wife, 'I don't know whether I'm going to shoot 60 or 80, but let's just really enjoy it,' " Points says. "We had such a special time. I won. We won. It was just a dream week." Mickelson has enjoyed some dream weeks himself at Pebble Beach, which he has called "a national treasure." The area has a personal connection for him. His late maternal grandfather, Al Santos, grew up in Monterey and caddied as a teenager at Pebble Beach after the course opened in 1919. This will be the 20th anniversary of Mickelson's first AT&T victory. In 2012, he got within one win of O'Meara by rally- ing from six back in the final round with a 64 while grouped with Woods. Mickelson marked his ball using a silver dollar from 1900 that his grandfather gave him— money earned during his days as a caddie. It was, more than being Mickelson's 40th career win on tour, the kind of magical thing that can happen at a magical place, where pros and amateurs and golf and nature pair quite like nowhere else. And this year, so do fathers and sons. Scott McNealy has taken to calling the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am his major, and is treating it as such. "I think his game is peaking just in time," Maverick said. 32 WINTER 2018 | NCGA.ORG Expect actor Bill Murray (top, right) to be his usual ball of laughs as he tries for his first team title since he and D.A. Points (left) won in 2011. Two-time AT&T champ Davis Love III (center) says he can't help but get lost in the beauty of Pebble Beach—often in the middle of his round. AP AP

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