Saturday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am is cut day for the professionals and amateur teams, when the dream of a celebrity or corporate mucky-muck playing with their pro in the final round is either realized or dashed. OK, who am I kidding? While the above is true, most of the fans that pack Pebble Beach on an AT&T Saturday don’t know a wedge from a bogey. They want to party, yell, and see a celebrity or two do something charming or goofy.
A sunsplashed day didn’t hurt and the huge crowd did not leave disappointed. The crew at the 15th tee, known as “Club 15” and a regular interaction spot for the entertainers, started whooping it up and yelling chants that could be heard anywhere on the property about 9 a.m. Thing is, no player would reach 15 for at least an hour.
When actor Josh Duhamel arrived, he pointed to the well lubed partyers in a crouched surfer stance, which only ratcheted up the noise. True to his threat, he whacked his tee shot and didn’t bother watching it land. Instead, he ran full tilt and launched himself into the teeming throng for a few raucus, crowd-surfing minutes.
Then, of course, there’s the Bill Murray show. In between hitting golf shots, he stole babies, hugged friends and strangers and fist-bumped thousands. He cajoled his playing partners with both praise and insult. As the round wore on, he yelled to the crowd to give fellow celebrity Darius Rucker encouragement to realize the dream of making the cut and playing on Sunday. Miraculously, along with celebs Chris Harrison, Colt Ford, Justin Verlander, Alfonso Ribiero and Pro- Am leader Larry Fitzgerald, he did along with his pro, defending Barracuda Champ Chris Stroud.
Amid all the nuttiness going on, there still was a professional golf tournament being contested. Through six holes, Dustin Johnson, executing his game plan to perfection by attacking the par 5s, threatened to run away from the field. After making eagle at the par 5 second, and knocking it on in two and making a birdie at the par 5 sixth, he had a three shot lead and made it look easy.
But over at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, despite the temps dropping a bit and a fresh wind arriving at all three courses, Ted Potter Jr. was canning birdies in bunches. Starting on the 10th hole of the most exposed layout of the rota, he birdied five of his first six holes and added an eagle to turn in 7 under par. By the time he reached the 7th tee, his 15th hole of the day, he sat at 11 under, with a chance at 59.
“Once I got to 11 under, I thought that I could get to 60,” Potter said. “The last three holes I knew were going to be par holes basically, anyway. I didn’t feel like I hit bad shots coming in there on the last couple making bogeys there. I just knew it was going to be tough coming in.” Despite a par and a pair of bogeys, he managed to pull even with Johnson entering the final round.
Chasing the leaders will be Jason Day, two back and a winner just two weeks ago in San Diego. Steve Stricker, who save for good buddy and playing partner Toby Keith wouldn’t have even played this week, and John Rahm are both three back. Phil Mickelson, who made nothing happen Saturday and is five behind, will need to go low Sunday to have a chance.