Thursday, February 11, 2010

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Steve Elkington has already called it one of the 10 best courses in the world, and Brad Faxon called Monterey Peninsula Country Club, "the best renovation I've seen, anywhere."So I'll be at MPCC today, as will Phil Mickelson and several celebrities, to see what all the fuss is about.
I'll also be watching for a veteran player like Mickelson or Davis Love III to win this week, because with the rare exception -- Dustin Johnson prevailing at 25 last year -- winners at this event tend to be well-seasoned. You can think of far more AT&T champions in their 40s (Steve Lowery, Vijay Singh, Johnny Miller) than in their 20s, and as is often the case on Tour, most are well into their 30s.For pure entertainment value, I'll probably check out the 8:33 a.m. group at MPCC, made up of pros Rickie Fowler and Ryo Ishikawa. Forget about actor Chris O'Donnell, Fowler's amateur partner. I'm curious to see how America's next big thing, Fowler, stacks up to Japan's next big thing, Ishikawa.The kid from Southern California has held up well so far this week.At a party at the Lodge at Pebble Beach on Wednesday night to kick off the 2010 golf season on CBS Sports, Fowler sat in a director's chair next to Dustin Johnson and took some ribbing from Nick Faldo about his haircut and his clothing. The two young stars were seated in between straight man Jim Nantz and jester Faldo, who playfully laid into Fowler for his pastel outfits and Dutch-boy 'do. Fowler took it all with a smile, and laughed along with the rest of the party-goers when Nantz referenced Faldo's light beard.
Nantz told a story about CBS's Bobby Clampett showing up for an early-season tournament sporting new facial hair, and now-retired announcer Ken Venturi objecting to the look.
"You know, Jesus wore a beard," Clampett said in his defense.Replied Venturi: "Jesus wasn't on television."

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