The heavy rain that was pounding the Bay Area commute Thursday morning had lashed the Monterey Peninsula overnight, softening the greens and fairways at the three courses in the rota for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – MPCC Shore Course, Spyglass Hill, and of course, Pebble Beach Golf Links. After three years in which the tournament had, for the most part, enjoyed the kind of beautiful weather that brings joy to the hearts of the local Chamber of Commerce, “Crosby weather” has returned to the AT&T Pro-Am.
Play commenced on time on the opening day of the tournament yesterday, but the soft sprinkle and light breezes that greeted the first few foursomes quickly degraded into another round of hard rain and blustery winds – and when lightning strikes were detected in the incoming storm cells that were still offshore, the horn blew, halting play at 8:40 AM PST.
Players were taken off the course, while civilians (spectators and volunteers) had to find what shelter they could in and around the on-course pavilions. After nearly three hours of waiting – near the end of which an army of course workers came out to squeegee water off of the greens, where necessary, uncover drain caps in bunkers and re-rake them – play resumed, at 11:30 AM PST.
For the remainder of the day players and spectators were treated to sparkling conditions, as the winds died away and clouds only intermittently blocked the sun. The benign weather and rain-softened conditions led to some low scores being posted, with newcomer Andrew Loupe coming in as the first-round leader after carding an 8-under 63 at the par-71 MPCC Shore Course.
More than half of the top 25 scores on the leaderboard at the end of the first round had been posted at MPCC Shore, the least difficult of the three courses in the tournament rota, but low numbers popped up at Pebble Beach Golf Links, and even at the wickedly difficult Spyglass Hill. Phil Mickelson, the 2012 AT&T Pro-Am champion who is looking for a record-tying fifth win in this year’s event, ended the first day in a three-way tie for third place after posting a 5-under 66 on the Shore Course. 2013 Frys.com Open champion Jimmy Walker posted the lowest score not recorded at the Shore Course, with a 6-under 66 at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
The start of Friday’s round was delayed an hour, but more to allow some course tune-up work to be done, in preparation for the second day of competition, than because of bad weather.
More rain is expected to pelt the area over the weekend, weather conditions which will test the resolve of players and spectators alike.