Pros make annual pilgrimage to Pebble

The PGA Tour makes its annual stop on the Monterey Peninsula this week for what purists still like to call “The Crosby.”

The tournament that for years was hosted by legendary crooner Bing Crosby, now known as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, will be played this week for the 78th time at Pebble Beach Golf Links—with Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club also in the mix for the first three rounds.

The backdrop is a portion of the California Coast that is one of the most revered golf meccas on the planet, with the drama playing out over a stretch of seaside landscape that has been called “the greatest meeting of land and water in the world.”

There is a debate over whether Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson or Australian painter Francis McComas made that statement, but it really doesn’t matter much when you are taking in the view along Stillwater Cove at Pebble Beach.

Among the winners at Pebble include most of the greats of the modern game, including Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Johnny Miller, Jimmy Demaret and Ben Crenshaw.

Notable exceptions are is Arnold Palmer, who finished second twice, and Seve Ballesteros of Spain.

Woods rallied in the final round to win the tournament in 2000. Later in the year, Tiger returned to Pebble and captured the U.S. Open in an epic performance, winning by 10 strokes over Ernie Els of South Africa.

Top names in a strong field this week include Mickelson, a four-time winner at Pebble, top-ranked and two-time champion Dustin Johnson, defending champion and third-ranked Jordan Spieth, second-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain, Els, Adam Scott and eighth-ranked Jason Day of Australia, Gary Woodland, who won the Waste Management Phoenix Open last Sunday, and eighth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, who is playing at Pebble for the first time.

Among the celebrities playing in the pro-am are longtime tournament favorite Bill Murray, Wayne Gretzky, Carson Daly, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Romano, Darius Rucker, Justin Verlander, Tony Romo, Kelly Rohrbach, Larry Fitzgerald, Toby Keith, Chris O’Donnell, Huey Lewis and Alex Smith.

One thing that is expected to be missing this week is what they call “Crosby Weather,” squalls the blow in off the Pacific Ocean and often play havoc with the tournament, including canceling play after two rounds in 1996 without a winner being declared.

Weather forecasts are calling for mostly sunny skies, with temperatures in the 70s, so Pebble Beach will be seen in all its splendor, in person or on television.

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