A party at Pebble, a return to Florida for Couples
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Even in gloomy weather, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is must-see TV.
That pertains to the views more than the golf.
This week offers perhaps the biggest social outing in golf, a blend of entertainers (Billy Murray, Justin Timberlake, Mark Wahlberg), athletes (Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald, Peyton Manning) and corporate titans. Geoff Ogilvy once noted the amateurs, especially those of the financial nature, are "equally accomplished in their fields as we are in ours."
"But they do much more important stuff," he said. "We just entertain. They add to the economy."
Sunshine is not in the forecast until the weekend, when CBS Sports takes over and shows a mix of celebrities and golfers. For those wanting to see pure golf, the suggestion is to wait until Sunday, or next week at Riviera.
A year ago, Justin Rose made his AT&T debut with a 66 at Spyglass Hill and heard the gallery chant his name all day long. Only he realized the cheers weren't for him. His amateur partner was Justin Timberlake, who broke into song at Spyglass and by Saturday joined Alfonso Ribeiro in a dance on the 15th tee at Pebble Beach.
For all the entertainment (and occasional golf), Pebble Beach still carries plenty of prestige because of the iconic nature of the golf course and the list of champions that feature Sam Snead, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson from the 1940s and '50s; Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Tom Watson from the 1960s and '70s; and Tiger Woods , Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh from the most recent generation.
The tournament was one of the few that thrived even without Woods at his peak in the 2000s. Pebble is bigger than any one player.
With a new generation, however, it has plenty of star quality among the golfers. Jason Day, the No. 1 player in the world, is a regular. So is Jordan Spieth, even before he signed a corporate deal with AT&T. Rose is back again (playing with Timberlake), along with two-time Pebble winner Dustin Johnson.
And there's still Phil Mickelson, the four-time Pebble winner who was runner-up a year ago to Vaughn Taylor .
As for the weather?
Pebble has enjoyed beautiful weather for the better part of a decade. This week figures to be a little more sloppy.
Television (all times EST): Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 1-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3-6 p.m. (CBS); Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS).
The desert swing is over on the European Tour after tournaments in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai. Now it's off to Malaysia, for the Maybank Championship that also is sanctioned by the Asian Tour.
Sergio Garcia won in Dubai last week and took a break before making his way to Los Angeles for the start of his PGA Tour season. Malaysia's field is not terribly strong, with only two players from the top 25 in the world — Masters champion Danny Willett (No. 15) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (No. 25).
But it's a big week for some of the players in Malaysia. Two weeks from now, the top 10 on the money list will get into the first World Golf Championship of the year in Mexico City.
Television (all times EST): Thursday, 10 p.m. to midnight, 2-5 a.m. (Golf Channel); Friday, 2-5 a.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday-Sunday, 6-10 a.m. (Golf Channel).
PGA TOUR CHAMPIONS
The ageless Bernhard Langer gets back to work on the 50-and-older circuit, coming off his 30th PGA Tour Champions victory last month in Hawaii.
Of more interest might be a guy playing for the first time. Fred Couples has entered the Allianz Championship in Boca Raton, Florida. This is notable because Couples used to thrive in the Sunshine State on the regular tour, winning the Honda Classic (1993), Bay Hill (1992) and The Players Championship (1984, 1996). He has not played in Florida since the Honda Classic in 2006.
Two players are making their PGA Tour Champions debut — winning Ryder Cup captains Jose Maria Olazabal and Paul McGinley.
They still have to beat the 59-year-old Langer.
Television (EST): Friday, noon to 2:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Saturday, 3-5:30 p.m. (Golf Channel); Sunday, 3-5 p.m. (Golf Channel).
AROUND THE GLOBE
The Web.com Tour spent two weeks in the Bahamas and now heads into its South American swing. That starts in Colombia and then heads over to Panama. ... One of the more interesting events this week is Down Under, where the Vic Oates Open near Geelong, Australia, will feature men and women playing the same course in the same tournament. The prize money is divided evenly.