Pebble beach, what a spectacular venue for my fourth PGA start as a professional, but more importantly my first tournament in making Birdies for Education! I was quite excited to return to Pebble Beach, where in June I played the US Open, missing my Stanford graduation and receiving my diploma Sunday as I stepped of the course! Good memories.
My partner for the week was former Secretary of State and Stanford Professor Dr. Condoleezza Rice. We started our tournament at the challenging Spyglass Hill course. I didn’t have my best iron game as I only hit 10 greens, however, chipped phenomenally and ended up scoring well for a 3 under 69.
The second round was at beautiful MPCC Shore course, a property that shows off the stunning shoreline of 17 Mile Drive. I started hot making birdies on holes 2-4, eventually turning at 4 under. Despite a chunked wedge shot into a bunker and a missed 3 footer, I was able to finish strong for a round of 5 under! On to Pebble Beach…
Beautiful day at Pebble Beach with some windy conditions. I was off to a poor start including making an 8 on the famous 18th hole, however, was able to shoot -1 on the front nine after turning to make the cut by 1… Tough day but an awesome learning experience on how to buckle down and grind out the last 9 and make the cut. Highlight of the day was Dr. Rice rolling in a long putt on the 15th hole and then again on the 18th! Fun to hear the crowd roars and amazing to watch!
Sunday was another tough day condition wise as the wind picked up for this final round. Despite finishing bogey-double, I played solid for most of the day and ended up moving up a couple of spots with a 2 over 74. Highlight of the day was eagling the second hole after hitting it 8 feet, capped off by rolling in a tricky putt! Can’t complain as Pebble Beach is such an awesome experience and it’s always a treat to play. Fun week with Dr. Rice and excited for what’s to come next!
A slower start than hoped for on Thursday and Friday led to a major charge up the leaderboard for Maverick on the weekend. His last 27 holes had him eight under par. Not sure anyone was better. But time ran out and he secured his best ever finish on the PGA Tour with a t5 finish. And the second best round of the day at 68 on a cool and blustery day that showed why Pebble Beach as a major tournament venue.
The excitement was off the charts. A birdie on his second hole of the day on the 11th got things going. But birdies were hard to come by everywhere. In fact, finding the greens with the wind, firm surfaces, and very fast greens was beyond challenging. Short game and especially putting became paramount. And Maverick saved par numerous times with what he called “easily my best round of putting ever.” Quite a statement from what I consider to be one of the top putters on Tour.
Par save after par save let to a monster drive on the Par 5 second (his 11th hole). A long iron to the back of the green set up this eagle putt.
And later, he drained this putt on the par 3 7th hole. Epic deuce on an epic hole.
This final putt was maybe his most rewarding. A bogey free round in those conditions was truly incredible.
A week off. Then he heads to Puerto Rico and then to Florida for the swing through the Sunshine State.
Thanks to Maverick for all of the thrills and birdies. And especially to all of you out there supporting him and his quest to raise $1m for www.birdiesforeducation.com
I am going to stand down from blogging for a while. Back to my day job making a difference in K12 education with Curriki.
So, this is cut day. Go low or go home. Only the fittest survive. No losers allowed on Sunday. Top 65 pros and ties. Top 25 ProAm teams. These are the survivors.
The cut for the pros was looking like 4 or 5. For the ProAm, it is usually around 18. Maverick starts the day even. I start the day with a big omelette, some sausage, bacon, fruit, and a smoothie in player dining. Team Mav starts the day at 10 under. Not an easy task for Maverick, seems monumentally huge for the Team. I only get eight strokes. And I am a really great blogger, not so good golfer….
Anyway, I am pure on the range again. We head over to the first tee. Maverick hooks it into the tundra left. I sky it high right, skank a 3w. Hit a lob way short, three putt. Double bogey with a stroke. I wipe the barf off my shoes as Maverick just misses his par putt. I am thinking all about the drive tomorrow morning.
Well, I was daydreaming up a bit early. Maverick birdies three of the next four holes. Maybe there is hope? Hole six is a not too long par 5 and I get a stroke. My chance to contribute.
I hit a total yip hack slice high ugly elephants butt (high and stinks) wayyyyy right. OB. I have played this course for 20 years as a member. Never hit one OB. Never. Not in recorded history. Maverick gets a par.
And pars the tough par three.
I finally help by three putting on eight for a bogey with a stroke as Maverick gets a bad lie in the green side trap.
Great par by Maverick on nine. He is one under. Nearing the cut line. Team is 11 under and treading water. Cuz I have been birdie free and no pars on my four stroke holes. Trump would say “You’re Fired!”
As we hit the tenth hole, I cheered Maverick on, said go get em, give it your best nine ever. You can do it. His caddie came by with the message that Maverick does not want any rah rah stuff. Translation: Be quiet Dad, I got this. Message received. I spent rest of the round talking to Susan, my caddie, muttering expletives deleted under my breath after most shots, and quietly saying “Nice shot” to Maverick on numerous occasions.
Maverick birdies 10. Hits it to about four feet on par three 11. I hit it close too but missed my putt. No problem, Maverick is deadly from his distance. Not this time. The ball wiggles on a bumpy green and lips out. Par.
Does Maverick get upset? Maybe yes, maybe no. But he birdies the next two holes and is now inside the cut line at four under. And the team is making a run at 15 under. With five holes to go.
I get my hopes up about the team and am hoping that Maverick can keep it going as the wind picks up to about a three club wind. It is cool and gusty.
Maverick makes a good two putt par on the par three. But the next hole is a long dogleg left into the wind towards the ocean. Brutal. I get a stroke. Didn’t matter. I am not going to say anymore than that. Maverick hits a monster drive into a left to right wind. He has an 8 iron in from 140 yards or so. He normally hits it about 160 I am guessing. He hits it right at the front pin. Looking good. But the ball hits hammered by the wind, balloons straight up and was probably coming down towards us when it landed in the front trap. Crap. Well, another great up and down for Maverick but a lost birdie opportunity to Team Maverick.
Down wind now on a par 5. No problem. Maverick hits an iron and maybe a seven iron on the par 5. Eagle putt finishes a foot short. Tap in birdie. I am seriously thinking we could make it at the team level. I have a stroke on 17. And 18 is reachable for me in two so we could end up with two birdie putts on 18 to make the cut line.
Well, Maverick makes a brilliant sand save for par on 17. All I need to do is par this downwind hole and we have a chance on 18.
I hit a good drive. But just a bit right. Into a waste area. Not a problem. A four iron to the middle of the green and we are golden. Except I hit about eight inches behind the ball and chunk it to a hundred yards. No problem, I got this. Hit my low-flighted pitching wedge perfect. Super nippy. Right at it. I am thinking this could go in. But it had too much spin and the green was too soft. For once, I had pro spin and the ball is twenty feet short of the pin. No problem, I got this. Until I missed the putt and realized my tournament was over.
Anyway, just to seal the deal, I hit my last drive so far right that into the jungle that the marshalls just said it was gone. Took my glove off, putt my tees away, and actually felt a bit of relief. Lots of memories. Plenty. Didn’t need anymore.
Maverick had a routine par and moved up to 32nd. Two stokes out of 15th place. Love his chances to move up tomorrow. And excited to be on the other side of the ropes where I belong.
So grateful that he let me play along side him. What a memory of seeing him make his ninth straight cut and shot his 24th straight par or better round. I believe this round was in the top five or so rounds of the day. His two brothers, Dakota and Colt, his grandpa and grandma, and Mom and Dad all got to see him. As did his girlfriend. And many other buddies.
We will all be there tomorrow. And I can be more rah rah from the stands. Cant help myself.
Love my boys to death. I am sure all you dads out there understand.
Not a lot to report from the AT&T Pebble Beach ProAm today. It started early as I was up at 3 am with Susan and we headed into the temporary SquawkBox studio at Casa Palermo.
Joe was very generous to let me describe what Maverick is supporting with his www.birdiesforeducation.com commitment. Thanks for all who are helping this cause.
We teed off at 10:15 am and finished almost six hours later in the cold and fog. There was a small of close and enthusiastic band of friends and family who watched us try our butts off. But it was a slow day for birdies. Two for Maverick who carded his second straight even par round. And I chipped in one natural birdie and two net birdies to help the cause. My clutch factor was not too great as I three putted from about 20 feet on a hole where the team needed my two putt par.
I sure hope my 85 and 86 over the last two days is not impacting Maverick’s mojo. It sure is impacting mine. Gotta figure out how to take my A range game out to the course and replace the D game that shows up about three swings into the round. Clearly the hardest part of me in the cold and wind and fog is to stay loose and focused for nearly six hours. Rigor mortis sets in with me after a full swing in about three minutes.
Here are some TV highlights of us from the Friday round. Golf Channel
After all is said and done, Team Maverick needs a good nights rest and a determined run at the gettable Monterey Peninsula CC tomorrow. A four or five under round for Maverick and a team score of -8 might do the trick to get both of us inside the cut line.
Thanks for all of your support and best wishes. I really want to play Sunday. So does Maverick. But the time together is special. More tomorrow night.
Until the final putt drops, anything can happen. Lots happened this round.
It all started with a beautiful day at Pebble Beach. My first tee ball miraculously finds the fairway but a bad approach put me in bogey territory. No matter. Maverick is perfect and drains a six footer. One under.
Next hole, Maverick hits a great trap shot to seven feet and just misses his birdie. I chopped my way to a bogey.
Third hole, I mash a drive through the fairway into a trap. Maverick hits it to 17 feet and drains another birdie. Two under. Feeling like this could be a fun day. Except I am hitting it nasty. No matter. Maverick is hitting it great.
Two excellent up and downs on four and five for Maverick. I went bogey par. Still not hitting it well but feeling good about how things were going.
On Par 5 sixth. I mash a drive left, get cart path. Hard pan hybrid into trap short. Blade trap shot into lip, take bogey. But Maverick hits his four iron on in two and just misses 35-footer for eagle. Now three under. Rock and roll.
Seventh hole is famous. I almost put it in the ocean over the green. Another bogey. Maverick just misses birdie from 19 feet.
I stroke on 8. Had a five iron in and leave it on the front fringe. Make a five footer for net birdie. Maverick makes excellent two putt for par.
On to nine. I hit my second shot into the ocean.
Maverick hits a great shot from the rough and his putt for birdie comes up just short. Not a bad nine.
Ten was almost a disaster. And not because Maverick just missed his 13-foot birdie putt. Though it just seems nothing wants to drop for him today. It was my drive that bounded over the cliff towards the ocean. I mean a cliff too. Like straight down. Mark, my over-eager caddie decides to shuffle down over the edge to find my ball and he starts to lose his balance.
Maverick is in the center of the fairway and all he sees is Mark falling backwards and disappearing from site. He and the other pro, Seamus, assume Mark is now shark food. But he stops rolling just short of cliff diving and crawls out safely. Thank heavens. I did not want to carry my bag for the back nine.
Anyway, hole 11 was not a good scene. I hit a bad drive right. Hit 8i left. Chunk a chip and two putt for net par. Maverick, from perfect spot on fairway, hits a down-slope and jumps just into the rough in back above the hole. Great chip — runs 8 feet by the hole and he just misses the par save. The greens are like pool tables. Only harder. And maybe a touch faster.
The twelfth hole was when I suddenly started swinging well and hit a five iron to the back of the green on the par three. We both par, Maverick with a slick sandy.
Thirteen is another near disaster. And not because Maverick just misses his thirteen footer for birdie. I nailed my drive and had 130 yards up hill to the pin. Mark thinks 8i is fine. But I am feeling it and grab 9i. Hit is flush. Rolls to back rough. Mark says “What the F*%*?!” Maverick calmly suggests Mark consider the TV camera filming 20 feet right behind us. I am thinking, oh my, a story that will go viral and a big fine from PGA Tour HQ. Good news. They must have had this on tape delay as it did not hit the airways.
Anyway, on to 14. Maverick hits a thunderous 310+ yard drive over the corner on the Par 5. Has an iron in from 240 yards. He catches the bunker and guess what, just misses his eight footer for birdie. Weirdly, I hit a great drive for me, but a hidden bunker catches me on the left side of the fairway. All I can do is hit a 7i down the fairway, but I caught it well. I have 180 yards left and am feeling it again. So I yank out the five iron and hit a nice cut to the front fringe and roll it to about 15 feet. I miss the putt but a tap in par net birdie helps the team. That is six really solid shots in a row. I feel like Tiger in 2000/2001.
That feeling came to an end when I hit my next tee shot. It went right. Really right. Almost to 17 Mile Drive. Hit the cart path. Ended up behind some massive trees. Maverick was in control on his way to regulation par, so I decided to go for it from 150 yards. I hit a high hooking 7i through a tiny gap in the top of the trees and ended up on the fringe. Best shot of the day for me. Got the par.
On to 16 where we used to live. Maverick hits a great shot to about seven feet. I have about 150 yards in again from the left rough. I can’t see the pin and can only see about half of the green. Grab the 7i and hit it on the screws. I walk up to the green and there is my ball about four feet away. Maverick just misses a birdie again. The putt tore left like Pelosi with a SOTU speech. I knew mine would too. Maverick said “keep it on the edge if you are going to hit it firm.” I knew the next one was good so I ripped it. It hit the right edge and did a full 360 before dropping in the hole. I was, shall we say, surprised and relieved and happy.
On to 17. I practically topped my mid iron into the trap. Bogeyville. Maverick just missed his birdie putt.
Not a great day so far but Maverick is two under and we are six under as a team. Maverick hits two irons down the fairway and hits it to 37 feet for birdie. I, on the other hand, leave my drive well right of the ocean. In a trap. I hit a really good hybrid out but it hooks and rolls over the cliff.
18th. I am about 160 yards out and look over the cliff and see my ball in the sand on the beach below the seawall. I can’t find anywhere to climb down safely. Thought I could for sure get down. It was getting back up that worried me. I knew the TV cameras would have eaten up the scene of a 65 year old, formerly famous, and important tech CEO crawling over seawalls and rocks in his Under Armour gear, just to muff a shot from the beach. And then the scene of seven people trying to pull my sorry butt back over the wall because I am stuck down there. I decided to not put Maverick through all of that.
I took a drop and hit the best 4i maybe ever to about 15 feet back right of the hole. Maverick just missed his birdie and it inexplicably ran six feet by the hole. I tapped my 15 footer and it ran 14 feet by the hole. For some reason, I decided to walk over and hit it back at the hole. It went in. Bogey net par. Turns out to be important in the team standings. Maverick’s putter continued to misbehave and he closed out at even with a double on 18.
Such a brutal game. No, it is not combat. It is not the NFL. It is not like a first responder. I get that, but the psychological games this sport plays on you are very often very cruel. And only sometimes do you get the mental payback for all of the hard work. I would be a mental puddle if I had to play this game for living. Much prefer battling titans like Bill Gates and Andy Grove and Steve Jobs.
Anyway, after the round, Golf Channel wants to interview me and Maverick. While he is still in scoring, I suggest they ask Maverick as I doubt he is in interview mode. But Maverick comes out, clearly upset, but graciously did the interview and was a true gentleman and wonderful son.
I am always happy for him when he plays well. But was proud of him for how he handled himself after the round. I know he will be back with even more determination tomorrow.
Me, I’m going to bed early, getting up at 3:15 am to do SquawkBox with Joe Kernen. Then go back to bed if I can. Spyglass tomorrow.
Like I said, it ain’t over til its over. Lots of golf left for Maverick and the team. Stay tuned.
Living the dream. Never get bored. I wouldn’t trade places.