On a weekend in which there was no professional (tackle) football to compete with for TV viewers, men’s professional golf seemed to miss its chance.
Rain, wind and hail interrupted the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which many of the PGA Tour’s top players skipped ahead of this week’s elevated WM Phoenix Open, which is offering a $20 million purse. Another 14 players withdrew from the tournament before it was over, which was the most in a PGA Tour event since 15 pulled out of the 2007 Stanford St. Jude Championship, according to Elias.
England’s Justin Rose finally won on Monday to end a four-year drought and claim his 11th victory on the PGA Tour and an invitation to the Masters in April. The former world No. 1 player had fallen to 71st in the Official World Golf Ranking; he is No. 35 after winning at Pebble Beach.
“Sometimes, when you’re trending [the wrong way] you kind of try a little too hard,” Rose said. “I think the format this week, playing with amateurs, kind of just mellowed me out to the point where I let it happen. I let my good golf come forward. It’s obviously a learning lesson in that.”
There was also little drama in the Saudi International, where LIV Golf’s Abraham Ancer was a wire-to-wire winner. Cameron Young, the PGA Tour’s reigning Rookie of the Year, finished 2 shots behind Ancer. Young was playing with a conflicting-event release from the PGA Tour and is in the field for the WM Phoenix Open.
Here’s what happened in men’s professional golf this weekend:
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Pebble Beach, California
Winner: Justin Rose
How he won: The former world No. 1 player ended a four-year drought without a victory by winning by 3 shots on Monday. The Englishman endured the wind, rain and starts and stops to become the first European winner of the event. At 42 years, Rose is the oldest PGA Tour winner since Phil Mickelson captured the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island at 50, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Rose carded a bogey on the first hole of the final round before playing the final 17 bogey-free at 6 under. He had birdies on three of the first five holes after the Monday morning restart. Rose had a hole-in-one on the 15th hole at Spyglass Hill in the second round. He’s the first winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am to have a hole-in-one since World War II.
Rodgers wins pro-am
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his partner, Ben Silverman of Canada, won the pro-am portion at Pebble Beach, which was shortened to 54 holes because of the weather delays. Rodgers called the victory “significant” and something that had been on his bucket list.
Rodgers and Silverman beat Peter Malnati and Don Colleran, the retired president and CEO of FedEx, by 1 shot. Keith Mitchell and Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen were 4 shots back, and Mitchell wasn’t too happy about it.
Rodgers was playing off a 10 handicap, meaning he was getting 10 shots in each of the three rounds. Twitter’s handicap police discovered that Rodgers has a 3.0 index, according to the Wisconsin State Golf Association, which would probably have been adjusted because of Pebble Beach’s difficulty. The Sporting News reported that Rodgers had a 4.6 handicap when he teamed up with Tom Brady to defeat Allen and Patrick Mahomes 1 up in the sixth edition of The Match in June.
A Pebble Beach Pro-Am official told ESPN on Monday that the tournament’s committee assigns players a handicap based on GHIN, the USGA’s Golf Handicap Index Network. Rodgers’ index was listed as 3.0 by GHIN on Monday.
Whatever Rodgers’ actual handicap is, Mitchell seemed pretty convinced that he wasn’t playing to 10.
“I think Josh and I won,” Mitchell told reporters at Pebble Beach on Sunday. “Aaron Rodgers doesn’t count. His handicap was crap. I haven’t looked [at the scoreboard]. I think we were [winning], on 18 we might have been up there. But if we finish second to Aaron I consider us winning the trophy.”
Case closed. @K_m_Mitchell saying it himself: Rodgers is a sandy bandit!
— Tron Carter (@TronCarterNLU) February 6, 2023
Country music singer Darius Rucker also seemed amused that he was giving Rodgers strokes.
“Might not be enough.” 😂@DariusRucker can’t believe he’s giving @AaronRodgers12 strokes @ATTProAm. pic.twitter.com/AyCocj7QYH
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 3, 2023
Augusta National adds length
The opening round of the 87th Masters is only 59 days away, and Augusta National Golf Club on Monday confirmed a significant change to the par-5 13th hole, which has traditionally been the easiest on the iconic course.
The 13th hole, known as “Azalea,” has been lengthened by 35 yards, to 545 yards. It was the only distance change listed in the Masters media guide, which was released by the club on Monday. The updated length of the course is 7,545 yards.
With Rae’s Creek protecting the green on the hard dogleg-left hole, the added distance will leave golfers with a more difficult decision in whether to go for the green in two. Augusta National previously purchased land from adjoining Augusta Country Club to push back the 13th tees.
Eureka Earth previously revealed construction on the hole.
Is 545 trending?!?! Asking for a friend… 😝#TheMasters #Masters2023 https://t.co/8cgyFXEln3
— Eureka Earth® (@EurekaEarthPlus) February 6, 2023
At last year’s Masters, Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said players’ increased distance off the tee had dramatically changed how Bobby Jones intended for the hole to be played.
“The 13th hole does not have the same challenges that it has historically,” Ridley said. “The fact that players are hitting middle to short irons into that hole is not really how it was designed. My reluctance to date has been that it’s such an iconic hole. Probably along with 12 and maybe 15, the three holes where the most history has been made at Augusta National. So that has been sort of a counter to doing anything. But at some point in time, it’s something that we likely will do. We just don’t have anything to say about it right now.”
Two more PGA Tour players join TGL
On Monday, Billy Horschel and Max Homa became the latest players to join TGL, the new prime-time golf league being fronted by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Adam Scott, Collin Morikawa and Matt Fitzpatrick have also committed to play in TGL, which is scheduled to begin play in 2024. There will be six three-player teams competing in Monday night matches, so half of the 18-player roster has been filled.
“I believe there is an opportunity to push the envelope for golf fans’ viewing experience,” Homa said in a statement. “TGL is another example of how we can appeal to younger sports fans, and TGL’s progressive approach with its use of technology will further elevate how sports fans engage with golf. From the first time I heard about it, I knew it was for me.”
Homa and Horschel played in the Presidents Cup for the first time at Quail Hollow.
“I have always enjoyed team and match-play formats, dating back to my days playing for the Gators,” said Horschel, a former University of Florida star. “Being a part of a TGL team and competing in this format on a regular basis next year will hopefully play to my strengths. Competing in prime time in front of an audience will be a perfect environment for me as a passionate player who loves to feed off energy from the fans.”
Moving up and down
Todd’s form had fallen off since winning in back-to-back starts in 2019. His tie for second at Pebble Beach was his best finish in the past 80 starts.
The former Stanford star felt right at home on the Pacific Coast. He tied for second at 15 under, his first top-10 this season and tying for his best finish on tour.
Lebioda cooled off after carding a 9-under 63 to grab the first-round lead. He finished tied for 15th at 9 under. It was a dramatic improvement for a player who had missed seven straight cuts dating back to July.
The former Arizona State star had three birdies in his last four holes on Monday to tie for seventh at 12 under. It was his best finish since a tie for third at the Bermuda Championship in October.
It was a frustrating weekend for Spieth, who finished tied for 63rd at even par. The 2017 winner at Pebble Beach had six top-10s in 10 starts in the event coming into the week.
The reigning U.S. Open winner is dealing with a neck injury, and it showed in his performance. He missed the cut after posting a third-round 76. It was his first missed cut on tour since the Memorial in June.
McNealy was looking forward to playing Pebble Beach but withdrew during the third round because of a shoulder injury.
Kitayama started the final round just 1 shot off the lead but struggled to post a 4-over 76 and tie for 29th. He had bogeys on his first three holes in the final round and was 5 over on the front.
DP World Tour/LIV Golf arbitration begins
The long-awaited arbitration hearing involving the DP World Tour and its members who were suspended for playing in LIV Golf tournaments got underway in London on Monday.
A three-person Sports Resolution panel will ultimately decide whether the DP World Tour can suspend and fine the golfers and keep them from competing on the European team in the Ryder Cup. DP World Tour CEO Keith Pelley and longtime member Lee Westwood will reportedly appear at the hearings, which are scheduled to last for five days. A ruling isn’t expected for two to three weeks.
Thirteen players are challenging the suspensions and fines, including Ian Poulter, Westwood, Patrick Reed and Graeme McDowell. Poulter, Adrian Otaegui and Justin Harding initially challenged their suspensions and fines and received a stay from a British court in July, which allowed them to play in the Scottish Open and led to the arbitration hearings.
“There’s been plenty said and it will be good for impartial judges to decide and then we can all get on with it,” Westwood told The Telegraph of London on Monday. “I don’t know about appeals and what have you, and I may be wrong, but as far as I’m concerned this will draw a line and that will be it.”
Best of the week
And the best bounce!
The longest drive on this hole by 51 yards❗️
Joseph Bramlett’s 357-yard 3-wood got an assist from the cart path. pic.twitter.com/QOa6iVxjY7
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 5, 2023
He had the Ancers all weekend.
THAT approach shot 🎯 @Abraham_Ancer #PIF_SaudiIntlGolf #SeeItAll pic.twitter.com/tJNjhfacLp
— Saudi International | السعودية الدولية (@SaudiIntlGolf) February 4, 2023
Was the former Welsh footballer playing the wrong sport all along?
Multi-sport athlete ⚽️
The cart path is no problem @GarethBale11. pic.twitter.com/7EOuM3IE4M
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 2, 2023
Good morning, indeed.
Good morning, Doc Redman 😎 pic.twitter.com/iQ9Gdf8buA
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 5, 2023
Best up and down
Height is an advantage. Ask Pau Gasol.
What a shot from @PauGasol! 😮
He goes OVER the trees for the up-and-down 👏 pic.twitter.com/YrRAy2966h
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 4, 2023
He had a puncher’s chance.
Making a birdie from where??@PeterMalnati hit a wild recovery shot on the first hole during Sunday’s round 💪
(Presented by @CDWCorp) pic.twitter.com/tHEQ5SNZGR
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 6, 2023
Best social media
Here’s another “Full Swing” trailer to get you excited. It debuts on Netflix on Feb. 15.
👀 Full Swing hits @netflix Feb. 15th pic.twitter.com/y7Q4Yuv5cM
— Brooks Koepka (@BKoepka) February 6, 2023
The strong gusts aren’t coming for a while
The wind on No. 7 is no joke 💨💨 pic.twitter.com/G6SEqMGKeE
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 6, 2023
She said yes!
“She’s not my girlfriend anymore.”
After proposing at Pebble, Eric Cole tees off in Round 2 of @ATTProAm two back from the lead at 6-under.
— Korn Ferry Tour (@KornFerryTour) February 3, 2023
For real, doe
*𝙞𝙣𝙨𝙚𝙧𝙩 𝙙𝙚𝙚𝙧 𝙥𝙪𝙣 𝙝𝙚𝙧𝙚*@JustinRose99 takes the solo lead with a putt worth fawning over. pic.twitter.com/CSnNzhoPVE
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 5, 2023
This was … interesting
A round table with Patrick Reed, Faisal Salhab, Saud Al Sharif & Othman Almulla.#PIF_SaudiIntlGolf #SeeItAll pic.twitter.com/bcYjHF5h6K
— Saudi International | السعودية الدولية (@SaudiIntlGolf) February 5, 2023
“We were the Raptors. And we dominated.”