Memorable moments from Pebble Beach: Tiger’s heroics, Spieth’s danger, snow day
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was first played in 1937 and is still delivering classic moments.
From Arnold Palmer in a snow delay to Jordan Spieth on the edge of a cliff, here are some memorable moments from Pebble.
7 down, 7 to play
One of Tiger Woods’ nine PGA Tour victories in 2000 was particularly unlikely, as he stood on the 12th tee in the final round at Pebble Beach trailing Matt Gogel by seven shots. Woods had won five consecutive starts on Tour, but would need some late magic to extend that streak. As was often the case, he found a way. Woods birdied the par-3 12th, but could only manage par at 13 and 14. Then, as Gogel started to struggle, Woods bombed a drive down the 15th fairway that left him just 97 yards to the hole. The crowd erupted as the 82-time Tour winner spun a wedge back into the hole for an eagle, propelling him up the leaderboard.
Two more birdies – at the 16th and 18th – gave Woods a final-round 64 and a two-shot victory over Gogel and Vijay Singh. Woods would return to Pebble Beach four months later and win the first of four consecutive majors at the U.S. Open by a record 15 shots.
Life on the edge
Jordan Spieth is one of the most exciting players in the world to watch, partially because you never know what’s going to happen next. The former Longhorn took the unpredictability of his game to another level in 2022 at Pebble Beach’s eighth hole. His tee shot ran through the fairway at the par 4, but stopped just short of toppling over the steep cliff that divides the hole. Despite his caddie, Michael Greller, trying to talk him out of it, Spieth elected to hit a shot that had viewers nervous and social media buzzing.
The three-time major champion was able to get good contact on the ball, sending it over the green, as he quickly ran away from danger and back to the fairway. He even managed to get up-and-down for par, capping one of the highlights of the year.
Snow day at the beach
The 1962 playing of the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which was then known as the Bing Crosby Pro-Am, was dealt an unusual hand on what was supposed to be a traditional final-round Sunday. It was a snowstorm that interrupted play and left Arnold Palmer entertaining the television audience by flighting golf shots into Stillwater Cove.
The tournament was resumed the following day, with Doug Ford taking down Joe Campbell in a playoff to capture the victory.
Rock, fairway, trophy
Hale Irwin needed to birdie the par-5 18th in 1984 to force a playoff with Jim Nelford, and he thought he had lost his chance after a low hook off the tee appeared headed for the Pacific Ocean. He must’ve been owed a good break, as his ball ricocheted off a rock and back into the fairway. Irwin could be heard on the broadcast yelling, “No!”, as his ball torpedoed toward the hazard.
“When I hit the tee shot at 18, I said things you can’t repeat,” Irwin said after the round. “Then when it bounced out, I looked up and said, ‘I’m sorry I said that.’”
It’s a break he certainly wasn’t expecting.
“I’ve seen 300 golf balls go over that cliff, none of which ever made it back to the fairway,” he said.
Irwin made the most of the lucky bounce, birdieing the 18th to force the playoff, where he would conjure up some more magic. After tying the first playoff hole – the par-4 15th – Irwin popped up his tee shot at the par-4 16th, advancing it less than 200 yards. He was left with a 213-yard shot out of a fairway bunker, which he hit to 8 feet with a 2-iron before sinking the birdie putt to seize the victory.
Turning back the clock
Johnny Miller was a full-time broadcaster when he teed it up at the 1994 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He had played just a handful of times since 1989 and didn’t have expectations of contending at the start of the week. That changed after an opening 68 at Spyglass, which included 17 greens hit in regulation. Miller would better that score by one shot with a third-round 67 at Pebble Beach, setting up a Sunday showdown between the 46-year-old and 44-year-old Tom Watson. Miller’s final-round 74 in difficult conditions was enough to top Watson for the unlikely victory, leading to great quotes from both Miller and Watson.
“This isn’t happening,” Miller said. “This is a time warp. I play 25 rounds a year. I don’t practice. I’m Joe Announcer. I wasn’t supposed to win. It’s a fluke.”
“Congratulations. Get back in the booth,” Watson joked near the scorer’s tent.
“I guess I’ve got to play the Masters,” Miller said.
The journey from the booth to the winner’s circle to Augusta National was a sweet one for the golf legend.
The Prince of Pebble
Mark O’Meara was seeking his fifth victory at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am in 1997, but to do so he would have to hold off emerging stars and future world No. 1s Tiger Woods and David Duval. O’Meara was in the final pairing with Duval, who held the overnight lead. Woods was in the penultimate pairing, and opened with five birdies in his first eight holes to pull within two of the leaders. As Duval was stuck in neutral – ultimately shooting 71 – O’Meara remained steady, shooting his fourth consecutive 67 to finish at 20 under. Woods did all he could to chase down his good friend and Florida neighbor, birdieing the final three holes Sunday to cap a 63-64 weekend playing alongside Kevin Costner, but came up one shot short of the veteran.
“I wish I could put my finger on why I play well on the Monterey Peninsula,” O’Meara said after his victory. “When I was 16 or 17, I played the California State Amateur. Going on the 17-Mile Drive, seeing Pebble Beach for the first time was beyond belief. I still have that feeling.”