Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, spring 2018

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114 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 8 P ebble Beach has always been a proving ground for golf genius. It is the site of Tom Watson's only U.S. Open victory, Jack Nicklaus' most mythologized shot—the 1-iron that clinched the '72 Open, of course— and the most dominant performance in the sport's history, Tiger Woods' 15-shot romp at the 2000 U.S. Open. Phil Mickelson has won four AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Ams; Nicklaus and Johnny Miller three apiece; Watson two; and the roll call of winners also includes Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Ken Venturi, Hale Irwin, Vijay Singh, Payne Stewart, Ben Crenshaw, Davis Love (twice) and Tom Kite, who also took the 1992 Open at Pebble to punch his ticket to the Hall of Fame. Given all of this history, Jordan Spieth's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am victory in 2017 takes on added weight. The Golden Child—as he is sar- donically known amongst his peers—is a tender 24 but the overpowering victory at last year's Pro-Am was the ninth of his career. He went on to win again at Hartford (holing a bunker shot in sudden death that touched off a madcap cel- ebration) and then take the British Open at Royal Birkdale, the third major championship of his young career, following 2015 triumphs at the Masters and U.S. Open. Spieth was a very worthy addition to the pantheon of winners at Pebble Beach, and in retrospect the victory is even more important, because it began his jour- ney to the British Open triumph. "Pebble was a big confidence boost early in the season when I was look- ing for that," says Spieth. "Any time you win on a course that good, it tells you your game is heading in the right direction." The ensuing Rory McIlroy has been celebrated for the purity of his swing going back to when he was 16 and shot a record 61 at Royal Portrush, the acclaimed links in his native Northern Ireland. Photo: PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo Spieth is now clearly golf 's alpha male, but in 2018, McIlroy will be encroaching on his turf.

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