Apparently the gods of golf were not happy with the new “designated event” status of the AT&T pro-am. The Pineapple Express and other storm activity killed the event on Saturday after the conclusion of the third round, as the storms brought high winds and rain that drenched the area. Rains and high winds punctured the evening hours leaving Pebble in an unplayable position for the final round. Officials waved off having spectators for Sunday and then finally called off play for Sunday. Logistical issues and the threat of poor weather continuing on Monday forced the organizers to chalk this up as a 54 hole event. Wyndham Clark broke the course record with a third round score of 60 at Pebble Beach vaulting him past Scottie Sheffler, Ludwig Aberg, Justin Thomas, Pavon and Detry to win the event. It was interesting to note that the players who played Spyglass Hill on Thursday generally got by this difficult golf course as the greens were soft and receptive to iron shots. Patrick Cantlay had little trouble with Spyglass in the first round as he shot 64 to vault into the lead. Spyglass was playing uncharacteristically easy primarily due the moist conditions, which aided the players chipping and putting significantly. Rory McIlroy was playing pretty well at Spyglass in this first round but managed to incur some significant trouble on the par 5 7th hole. The 7th at Spyglass is one of the easier holes on the course especially if your drive is in the fairway. McIIroy missed the fairway and smashed his driver left past the fairway bunker but the hole ended up in a hole next to a tree and he had no stance to do much with the shot. The rough was high and wet and he had to take an unplayable and he took what he thought was the proper drop. It turns out that the drop rules had changed recently and McIlroy’s drop was not correct and he was assessed another penalty star, resulting in a triple on one of Spyglass’ “relaxing holes.” Over at Pebble Beach, Scottie Schleffer grabbed the lead at the halfway point of the event. The weather for the third round was perfect for the group and the story quickly became blazing Wyndham Clark. If you’re going to score at Pebble Beach, the first seven holes are all potential birdie holes and Clark made a meal out of those holes and shot 28 on the front nine. He had two eagles and made very improbable birdies on the tough 8th and 9th holes. Clark was rolling and he continued on the birdie train through 10 and 11. It was quite a performance and he couldn’t know that it would be enough to win as the Sunday weather caused the tournament to close out as a 54 hole event. Clark was the story of the event as he came from 7 shots back to take the third round lead and eventually enough to win the event.
The shortened AT&T will be the highlight byline for the tournament so its difficult to assess the impact of the new formatted designated event of the PGA Tour. The event seemed to be subdued from prior years as the non-golfing patrons would come down to the Monterey Peninsula to watch the antics of their favorite celebrities and entertainers. It all business in this event as the amateur field was cut to a two day event with no cut or celebrities. With this new format, I would suggest that the PGA should change the timing of the event to a time where where weather cannot be a factor that impacts play. With the quality of Pebble and Spyglass, I would move the tournament to a time post the four majors to keep momentum and interest in professional golf before the Tour Championship. I would also toughen the courses by bringing in the fairways and produce US Open type rough. I would play two rounds at Spyglass rather than to give the course the national visibility it deserves. It is one of the most difficult courses on tour and most professionals would be happy with an under par round there.
I think the tournament needs a new sponsor to breathe some life and spirit into the event. The Clambake, as we knew it, is dead–deader than the returns that shareholders of AT&T have earned over the past 15 years.– Deader than the cell phone coverage that AT&T provides to the 17 Mile Drive resident. The death knell of this event will continue, bad weather, designated event or not–the players are headed to Phoenix for another raucous event as the greatest fan participant event on tour. The PGA Tour Masters have to revamp this event and get the participation that the fans deserve with two of the best golf courses on the planet as the venue.