I’ll start this week’s report by congratulating Jordan Spieth, who returned to the winner’s circle in impressive fashion at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am.
As I’d mentioned before, I was sad to have to withdraw from the event as it really is one of the best events out there playing some superb courses. Still, congrats also to another good friend and supporter of Els for Autism, Ken Duke, who won the Pro Am’s team competition with his partner, TV host Carson Daly. Winning at Pebble Beach, one of golf’s iconic venues, has got to be on every golfer’s bucket list.
As it happens, another iconic venue comes into play this week, Riviera Country Club, home of the PGA TOUR’s Genesis Open. This is such an historic club and a really wonderful golf tournament. It’s one of those courses that I’ve enjoyed playing over the years and have always been a fan of the whole feel of this particular golf club and surrounding area, which is blessed with great weather and great golf courses.
Of course, long before the current generation of players were even born, this place had been given the name ‘Hogan’s Alley’ after the great man won two LA Opens and his first US Open here, all in the space of 18 months. Not too shabby! Other winners at Riviera include Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Johnny Miller. That’s quite the roll-call of champions. The US Amateur will be hosted here in August this year and the players are certainly in for a real treat, literally walking in the footsteps of legends.
From a personal perspective I’m obviously proud to have won at Riviera, too. Even though it was quite a few years ago, way back in 1999 in fact, the memories are fresh in my mind. Funnily enough, some wins you remember better than others. This one is crystal clear. I shot rounds of 68, 66, 68, 68 for 14-under par, holding off the challenge of Tiger, Nicky Price, Davis Love III and David Duval, among others. And the truth is when you win somewhere, but especially at a place like this, it makes it very special coming back every year. There’s a really nice vibe that goes with that.
All in all, it’s about the ideal place for me to play my first PGA TOUR event in almost three months. Also, Riviera has attracted what is probably the strongest field of the year to date, which is great to see. So I can’t wait to get started. The neck injury feels fully recovered and, having played nicely in Qatar just a couple of weeks ago, I’m really fired-up to try and play some good golf from the get-go.
Okay, that’s it for now. Just one final piece of sad news, the passing of Dave Musgrove, one of the world’s great caddies who worked for Sandy Lyle, Seve Ballesteros, Lee Janzen and Bernhard Langer, among others. We always enjoyed our time together and Dave really taught me a lot when I was a rookie. He was one of the legends!
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