PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am can be a tough place for a player to make his debut because of three courses that are different except for the views along the California coast. Justin Rose managed to play Pebble Beach and Monterey Peninsula ahead of the opening round.
He started on Spyglass Hill and had regrets about not playing it earlier.
He just didn’t have any regrets about his score.
Rose finished with a 50-foot birdie putt that banged into the back of the cup for a 6-under 66 and made him feel like he was among the leaders, even though he was two shots behind to par, three shots to score.
Chez Reavie opened with an 8-under 63 on Monterey Peninsula, which played 1 1/2 shots under par and was the easiest of the three courses on Thursday. Cameron Smith and Bronson Burgoon were at 7-under 64 at Monterey Peninsula, while Freddie Jacobson shot a 7-under 65 at Pebble Beach, the only course to play over par.
Even so, it was a great start for Rose for a couple of reasons.
He has never played this event, and the former U.S. Open champion was not used to making seven birdies and playing a supporting role to that other Justin in his group. That would be Justin Timberlake, his partner in the pro-am.
”I’ve never seen a demographic like that on a golf course where you’re sort of running the gauntlet from one tee to the other. Everyone was under 21 and 80 percent female,” Rose said. ”I said, ‘OK, that moved the needle a little bit there.”’
Rose did OK himself Thursday.
THE PERFORMERS: Someone from a house above the fifth green at Spyglass tossed a football at Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Two fans wearing No. 99 jerseys – one from Team Canada, another from the Edmonton Oilers – asked Wayne Gretzky to sign the back of them.
The highlight of the round, however, belonged to Timberlake.
Rose said they were on the 16th tee when Timberlake took a guitar from someone in the gallery and gave an impromptu performance. Alfonso Ribeiro chipped in.
”That was a cool moment,” Rose said. ”Not many people saw it, because there was only like 20 people back there. That’s obviously when you really appreciate how someone can grab a guitar, go a cappella and sound so awesome. You have a better appreciation. You see him hit not maybe so many great golf shots, but then you realize, ‘Ah, that’s pretty damn special right there.’ So we all have our own skill set.”
For Rose, that would be golf, not singing.
”Even in the shower, I’m awful,” he said.
THE COURSES: Monterey Peninsula is the only course that plays to a par 71, and the Shore Course can be had in the gentle weather that Thursday provided. Reavie was delighted to see so many putts drop, one of them for eagle on the 16th hole, for his 63. Burgoon, meanwhile, was 7 under on the back nine at Monterey Peninsula, only to finish with nine straight pars. Twenty-six of the 45 rounds in the 60s were at Monterey Peninsula.
Spyglass played to an average score of 71.9, while Pebble Beach was slightly harder at 72.06
THE OTHER STARS: Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth were equal off the tee on the par-5 opening hole at Spyglass, which was a surprise. And then this – Johnson chose to lay up (he didn’t have 5-wood in his bag, and 3-wood was too much) and Spieth went for the green.
Johnson made birdie. Spieth went just over the green and chipped to 12 feet, making par. For the day, Johnson birdied all the par 5s and Spieth played them in 1 under.
Six of the top 10 players in the world all were at Spyglass, and Rose was the only player to break 70.
Johnson had a 70. Spieth and Jason Day had 71s. Patrick Reed shot 72 and Bubba Watson had a 73.
They play at Monterey Peninsula on Friday.
THE ‘IDIOT’: This wasn’t the first time Phil Mickelson referred to himself as an ”idiot.” He had a one-shot lead playing the final hole of the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, made double bogey and said later, ”I am such an idiot.”
This offense, by comparison, was minor. He decided to adjust his driver because he wanted more spin than he was getting in Phoenix last week.
”Like an idiot, I switched drivers,” he said. ”I hit some shots I didn’t care for today. … So I’ll go back to my other driver.”
It wasn’t a total loss. The four-time winner of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am shot a 68.