The last two weeks have been eerily similar. Wasted opportunities were once again a common theme on golf courses that definitely suited my game. Two missed cuts by one shot each only added fuel to my ever-growing fire. The Waste Management Phoenix Open once again lived up to the hype and created an atmosphere that no other PGA Tour tournament can match. The crowds were enormous and their opinions were often expressed at volumes not accustomed to the traditional golf course. Good shots were rewarded with loud cheers and applause. However, the mediocre and bad shots got blasted and abused from the rowdy and boisterous crowds. Alcohol played a major role in the criticism and as the day progressed so did the content of the expressions. Extremely cool temperatures for the desert area added an unexpected twist to the tournament and frost delays were very popular each morning. The event was pushed into a Monday morning finish which forced golf fans in corporate America to work a little slower. Despite the missed cut by a shot, the week wasn't a total bust. On Wednesday evening, my agent, Alan Bulllington, and I went to the Phoenix Suns game and sat in a box. I spent the majority of the evening talking golf and sports with current Arizona Cardinal Quarterback Derrick Anderson. He is a golf nut and we had a great time. The Suns beat the Milwaukee Bucks pretty easily, thanks to a 21 point half time lead. Boo, his caddy Joe, and I rented a house for the week and, as usual, there were plenty of laughs. I always have a great time with those guys regardless of how many putts fall during the week. I was also fortunate enough to have several of my longtime friends watch me play. Louis Viamonte, Bill Faith, and Jay Sanders ventured to the course and supported my efforts. However, they spent the majority of their time around the par 3, 16th hole, and for good reason. The coliseum setting, obnoxious crowd and abundant beer stations kept them close to the action. I appreciate their attendance though and hopefully next year I will give them more to cheer about.
This past week I played at one of my most favorite places on earth, Pebble Beach. Another missed cut by one lousy shot unfortunately lead to another short week of work. I didn't capitalize on my opportunities as I mentioned earlier, and as you have gathered, that usually leads to an early exit on the PGA Tour. Beth and Jake flew out to Pebble on Wednesday but sadly left little Libby back home with her grandparents. I had several other visitors to the scenic west coast. My Mom and Step-dad Mike, my brother Chris and his wife Jill, my sister Courtney and her husband Jon and my Uncle David and his entire family flew out to experience the views of Pebble Beach. We rented two houses and obviously had a good time. For the first time in decades, the tournament didn't experience a single drop of rain during the event. Usually during this time of year, rain along the shores of Pebble Beach heavily outweigh the sunshine. Fortunately for us, the weather was perfect and my family was able to experience the sights and sounds of the breathtaking shoreline without an umbrella.
For those of you who don't know, the tournament at Pebble Beach is a Pro-Am format that pairs one amateur with one professional. The event is played on three different courses (Pebble Beach, Spy Glass, and Monterey Peninsula) throughout the week and the cut is made after Saturday's round. Jim Crane, my partner at the Bob Hope Classic, was once again my teammate for the week. Neither one of us played our best during the week and we disappointingly missed making the cut in the team division by two shots. The experience was incredible and I truly appreciate his kindness and hospitality throughout the week. On Wednesday, Mr. Jim invited me to play one of the four courses on my bucket list. Cypress Point, one of the most famous courses in the world, is extremely private and rated as one of the top three courses each year by golf publications. Some people say it is easier to get an invite to Augusta National than Cypress Point. I am not sure about that but the experience was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity. It is the purest form of golf imaginable. There is not a single yardage marker on the course or a hole marker. Caddies are mandatory and you have to trust their knowledge of the course. If you have a chance, please Google Cypress Point Golf Club. The views are incredible and the par 3, 16th hole is its signature. I am forever grateful for the invite and my golf bucket list is almost complete. Since I was a child, my dream golf courses have been Augusta National, Cypress Point, Pebble Beach, and St Andrews. Thanks to Mr. Jim, St Andrews is the final course on my short bucket list.
The 16th at Cypress Point....
This week I am playing Riviera Country Club on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The course was built in 1927 and is often referred to as "Hogan's Alley" due to the success of the legendary Ben Hogan. He won three events in a span of 18 months at Riviera, one of which included the 1948 U.S. Open. I played the course on Tuesday and really enjoyed the layout. Regarded as a favorite of most tour veterans, Riviera does a great job combining a challenging layout with a traditional golf course. The course hasn't been altered very much over the years and this is certainly a nice change. Often times a golf course will add length and reshape holes in an attempt to slow down the progression of technology. There is something to be said, however, about walking and playing on the same layout and conditions that the legends of the PGA Tour did years ago. The clubhouse and locker room at Riviera does a tremendous job displaying its rich history throughout the hallways. I often find myself staring at the pictures. Just the thought of following in their footsteps is a bit overwhelming. I am very fortunate to play on the PGA Tour and I am proud of every opportunity that I have. However, to walk the same halls and play the same courses that the legends did before me is really, really cool. I often sit in front of my locker each week and wonder what legend sat here and did the same??