By Tom LaMarre
For the first time since entertainment great Bing Crosby started what is now the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am some 84 years ago, the tournament on the Monterey Peninsula will look a little different.
For the first time there will be no pro-am, which normally features the likes of comedian Bill Murray, actor Clint Eastwood, wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald of the Phoenix Cardinals and other entertainment and sports stars, because of Coronavirus pandemic regulations in the region.
“While we will truly miss watching the actors, musicians, athletes and other amateur participants that make this event so special, we are pleased to continue on with the professional competition,” Tournament Director Steve John said.
And instead of three courses, the tournament will be played only on the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, the host course, and Spyglass Hill Golf Course.
In addition, no spectators will be allowed on the course, but tournament officials thought the best golfer in the world would be there.
However top-ranked Dustin Johnson, who had committed to play at Pebble Beach for the 14th consecutive year, announced on Monday night that he was withdrawing after making the long flight back after winning the Saudi International last week at Royal Green Golf and Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia, winning for the fourth time in his last eight starts.
“Following his successful week in Saudi Arabia, Dustin decided it would be best to enjoy a week at home before the Genesis Invitational and the WGC at The Concession,” his agent, David Winkle said in a text. “Other than being a bit jet lagged, he is feeling great and looking forward to the weeks ahead. While he is disappointed to miss the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which is always one of his favorite weeks, he feels his decision is for the best.”
DJ won at Pebble Beach in 2009 and 2010, in addition to tying for second in 2014 and 2018 among his eight finishes in the top 10, but of course his biggest collapse came in the 2010 U.S. Open, when he took a three-stroke lead to the final round but closed with an ugly 82 to tie for eighth.
After playing in Saudi Arabia the last two years, Johnson tied for 32nd and tied for 45th at Pebble, which probably influenced his decision. His withdrawal left the field without anyone in the top 10 of the World Golf Rankings.
Those who will be there include No. 11 Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA (pictured), No. 14 Daniel Berger, No. 16 Paul Casey, five-time Pebble Beach champion Phil Mickelson, Jason Day of Australia, Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Rickie Fowler, Stewart Cink, Si Woo Kim of South Korea, Paul Casey of England, Francesco Molinari of Italy, Russell Knox of Scotland, Brandt Snedeker, Rory Sabbatini of Slovakia, Branden Grace of South Africa, Sungjae Im of South Korea, Aaron Baddeley of Australia and Rafa Cabrera of Spain.
“This place is about as special as anywhere in golf for me,” Mickelson said. “I just feel good here. I have such great memories here. I would love to add to it. I have a good big picture of the overall importance of this tournament to the game and what it provides and how much I love the place,”
As always, Pebble Beach with its incredible views, will be the star.
- Patrick Cantlay, United States – Having slipped out of the top 10 in the World Golf Rankings to No. 11, Cantlay will be trying to climb back in at Pebble Beach, where he tied for ninth in 2013 and tied for 11th last year. He is third in the FedEx Cup standings thanks to a victory in the Zozo, second in The AmEx and a tie for eighth in the Shriners.
- Paul Casey, England – Made the long flight back to play at Pebble Beach after tying for 12th in the Saudi International on the European Tour last week with four rounds in the 60s. He finished second in the AT&T in 2018 and tied for eighth the year before. Casey tied for eighth in The American Express and tied for 17th in the U.S. Open this season.
- Si Woo Kim, South Africa – Claimed his third PGA Tour victory, and first since the 2017 Players Championship, last month in The American Express, in addition to tying for eighth in the Shriners and tying for 17th in the CJ Cup to rank 16th in FedEx Cup standings. Kim’s best result in five starts at Pebble Beach was a tie for fourth in 2019.
- Daniel Berger, United States – Has risen to No. 14 in world after his third PGA Tour victory in the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge, and recently tied for seventh in the Sony Open in Hawaii and finished solo 10th in the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Has played in AT&T Pebble Beach twice, tying for fifth last year and tying for 10th in 2015.
- Stewart Cink, United States – Going through a bit of a renaissance this season at the age of 47, Cink claimed his seventh PGA Tour victory in the Safeway Open, tied for fourth in the Bermuda Championship, tied for 12th at Sanderson Farms, tied for 19th in the Sony and is 10th in the FedEx standings. Best at Pebble was a tie for 21st in 2016.
- Francesco Molinari, Italy – Winner of the 147th Open Championship in 2018 at Carnoustie has tied for eighth in The American Express, tied for 10th in the Farmers Insurance Open, tied for 15th in the Vivint Houston Open and tied for 22nd in the WGC-HSBC Champions this season. Molinari also tied for 16th in 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble.
- Jordan Spieth, United States – Looked like the Spieth of old last week when he shot 61 in the third round to tie for the Phoenix Open lead before closing with a 72 to tie for fourth. He claimed one of his 11 PGA Tour victories at Pebble Beach in 2017, in addition to tying for fourth in 2014, tying for seventh in 2015 and tying for ninth last season.
- Nick Taylor, Canada – The defending champion at Pebble Beach opened with 63-66 last year and claimed his second PGA Tour victory by four strokes over Kevin Streelman, and he also tied for 10th in 2017. Taylor’s best finish this season was a tie for 11th in the Sony Open in Hawaii, and he also tied for 29th in both the Masters and the Sentry TOC.
- Phil Mickelson, United States – Although Lefty has not played that well this season, you can’t overlook him at Pebble Beach, where he won in 2019 to tie Mark O’Meara with five victories, the most in tournament history. He also won in 1998, 2005, 2007, 2012, and has seven other top-10 results, and tied for fourth in 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble.
- Brandt Snedeker, United States – Sneds’ best finish this season was a tie for 17th at Sanderson Farms, but the poa annua greens in California bring out his best. He won at Pebble in 2013 and 2015 with four rounds in the 60s each time, was solo fourth in 2017 and tied for fourth in 2010 U.S. Open. Also won twice down the coast at Torrey Pines.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jason Day, Australia; Rickie Fowler, United States; Matt Kuchar, United States; Rory Sabbatini, Slovakia; James Hahn, United States; Branden Grace, South Africa; Rafa Cabrera Bello, Spain; Aaron Baddeley, Australia; Chris Kirk, United States; Sungjae Im, South Korea.
- Henrik Norlander, Sweden – Has a T-2 in the Farmers, a T-2 at Sanderson Farms and has finished in top-25 in last three starts. Finished in a T-25 at Pebble Beach last season.
- Matthew NeSmith, Unites States – Coming off a T-7 in the WM Phoenix Open last week and also was T-8 in the Shriners. Posted a T-11 in his first start at Pebble last year.
- Andrew Putnam, United States – Winner of 2018 Barracuda was T-7 in the WM Phoenix Open last week after T-21 in both The AmEx and Bermuda Championship.
- Will Zalatoris, United States – Six top-20s this season, including T-6 in U.S. Open, T-5 in Shriners, T-7 in Farmers, T-8 at Puntcana, T-16 in Bermuda and T-17 in Phoenix.
- C.T. Pan, Taiwan – The 2019 RBC Heritage Champions wound up T-7 in the Masters and T-12 in the Sanderson Farms this season. Missed the cut in first Pebble start last year.
For first round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard.html