It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over
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.
More fun tomorrow.