Nine golfers who have been honored by induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame are in the field at the Nature Valley First Tee Open this weekend at Pebble Beach Golf Links. From Class of 2013 inductees Fred Couples and Colin Montgomerie to old hands Hale Irwin, 1992, and Ben Crenshaw and Bernhard Langer, 2002, these legends of the game have been a big draw for the tournament.
As a matter of fact, the largest gallery on the course today belonged to Fred Couples. The ever-smiling, easy-going Couples is a popular draw at any tournament where he appears, as much for his seeming relaxed attitude as for his silky-smooth swing. This year, however, Couples’ drawing power might have something to do with the fact that he is captaining the United States team for the Presidents Cup for the third straight time.
The best showing by any of these legends of the game so far in this year’s tournament have been by Langer and Couples. Langer posted a 9-under 63 on the shorter Del Monte Golf Course layout on Friday, but had a tougher time with the longer and more rigorous test posed by Pebble Beach today – though the greens and fairways were running firm and fast today at Pebble Beach, the winds were much calmer, leading to an average nearly 4-1⁄2 strokes lower than yesterday. Despite today’s slightly easier playing conditions, Langer’s two birdies, at 10 and 18, weren’t enough top offset a double-bogey on the par-5 second hole and bogeys on 14 and 17. Couples has had a more balanced tournament, posting 68-71 at Del Monte and Pebble Beach, respectively; the 68 at Del Monte including an eagle on the par-5 seventeenth hole.
Local junior golfer shares top spot in Jr-Pro after 2nd day of First Tee Open
Michelle Xie of Palo Alto, a member of the Silicon Valley Chapter of the First Tee, drew a great partner for this year’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach – defending champion Kirk Triplett. Triplett, who obviously knows his way around the two courses in the rota for the tournament, Del Monte Golf Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links, shot 67 and 70, respectively, and with an assist from great play by Xie, 15, the pair are tied for first place in the Pro-Junior combined portion of the tournament.
The Pro-Junior team competition is a best-ball format, where the best score by either team member is counted for the hole. Given Triplett’s 67-70 performance, their team score of 65-65 shows that Xie contributed seven birdies to the effort, a sterling performance by the 15-year-old Palo Alto High School sophomore.
The Triplett/Xie duo share the top spot with Tom Lehman and his junior partner, Parker Hill of Minnesota, who posted scores of 64-66.
Twenty-three pro-junior teams make the cut to play on Sunday at Pebble Beach. The other local/NorCal juniors who made the cut were Virgie Velazquez, Chad Kubes, and Louis Euer of The First Tee of Greater Sacramento, and Eric Angeles, of The First Tee of Contra Costa.