The Pebble Beach Pro-Am was more of a tester for the competitors that they would have expected. California weather has been a real mixture, especially in the north, so it was good to see tour pros put through what us mere mortals, especially on Irelands rugged coastline, are exposed to on the regular. Courses like Pebble, Spyglass and Monterrey still look great in adverse conditions, but really beef up their defenses, again similar to links here. It takes a prodigious talent to overcome this, and cometh the hour, cometh the Speith.
Not since Tigers famous Open wins has watching someone so average in relation to peers in so many regards plot his way around a course. Added value this week came in that he was fighting a horrid hook over the course of the week, but get him on the green and there really is no one better. When the cameras stopped focusing on Bill Murray or Justin Timberlake, (Disclaimer- I like both guys and would never throw shade. I’m just sick of coverage trying too hard to make golf the “cool” thing, like when parents try this) they showed a re-emerging Jason Day looking like a major contender, missing only the flat stick to truly contend.
Kelly Kraft tried valiantly, and I can see him contending in other events, but it really felt like a showcase for Jordan. Sticking it to the malicious autograph hunters, that I have seen first hand, on Wednesday, he showed everyone how good he is on the green again.
He recorded a 23 putt round on the Saturday, just for good measure! A pretty good week for our own Sugar Shane Lowry too, finishing near the top ten and showing off some beautiful touches around the aprons. I will reiterate that this showing, and compatriot Seamus Power finishing close behind, are fantastic representatives for our game in America.
Shane needs to find form after the US Open heartache last year, but with pretty much all the tools of the trade, he should be a contender on his day and is trending back up. As for trends, we turn to the European Tour. Paraguayan Fabrizio Zanotti won in the windy Maybank Championship in Malaysia. But defending Masters champ Danny Willet let victory slip in the last round. He just could find scores while peers around him notched birdies and birdies. A sub par cut line usually indicates a very scorable course. The winners enclave can be a fickle beast. Even the most naturally gifted golfers like Seve, Tiger, Arnie, Jack and Rory all put in hour upon hour of work to get to where they got, a direct result of the hunger they had to be the best.
Golf is such a tough game, that you can’t really put it aside for too long a period and simply pick up where they left off, and such is the case with this man in green. By virtue of being a major winner, and a Masters at that, every media outlet, every corporate sponsor and every scorned lover wants their pound of flesh. So using basic arithmetic, you can see that the hours of range duty is subtracted and outside obligations take precedence. When you veer away from what brought you to the promised land in the first place, it can be hard to keep going to the well. It’s not a case of being softened and lazy, as Rocky would have you believe.
It’s more being spread too thin. It takes a rare animal to conquer this, and is why we see some one hit wonders never regain the heights they once set. Hopefully for Danny, he can defend his title with vigour. We have another few weeks to ponder this, and maybe the heart break will end…those were pretty poor Valentines Day metaphors, I know.