There are some absolutes you can count on at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Sec I Told You That Was Bryant Gumbel Golf Tournament. To wit:
a) Mark O'Meara will win. (He did again Sunday, for the fourth time.)
b) The chairman of AT&T, Bob Allen, the man who bankrolls the whole thing, will choose as his pro partner, let's see, how about Mark O'Meara?
c) Unable to line up his fourth putts, Jack Lemmon will miss the cut.
February 10, 1992
d) A very fancy car will be towed at Poppy Hills because the course has hardly any decent parking. (Clint Eastwood's Mercedes got the hook this year.)
e) Nobody at Cypress Point will notice.
f) The amateur who takes O'Meara will lose only because some jillionaire who can hit a low draw and suck a five-iron off the green will come in getting 16 shots a round and thump the rest of the field by six shots. (This time it was Australia's richest man, media tycoon Kerry Packer.)
g) The jillionaire will insist he has never played like this in his life. ("Two weeks ago I couldn't even get it airborne," said Packer. Riiiiiiight.)
h) Despite the fact that Poppy Hills is the Newark, N.J., of Monterey golf courses, and despite the fact that there are other nearby courses whose greens are not like Lombard Street, the AT&T will still stubbornly use Poppy Hills as one of its three courses for the week.
i) Greg Norman will make a triumphant comeback. (He did this year, mostly by being Packer's partner. You do the math—the twosome was 42 under par; Norman was four under. "I'm the best jockey a man could have," said Norman.)
j) Some celebrity will make the big Whigs itchy. (This time it was Bill Murray, who stepped out of his courtesy car and huffed, "Don't mess with me! I'm wearing spikes!"; held up his group 10 minutes while he drank a beer and ate a Polish dog at number 1 on Spyglass; went up behind Tour pro Jeff Sluman, brandishing a putter like a sword, and snarled, "Speed up or die!"; nearly holed a bunker shot and celebrated by making out with a matronly scorekeeper; asked the owner of a visor he was about to sign, "Do you mind if I cross out Arnold Palmer's name and write in mine?"; lay down flat on his back for five minutes in the middle of a Poppy Hills fairway; and wore a hat shaped like the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.)
k) The outlandish celebrity may not get invited again. (Murray, who was the best thing to happen to this tournament since the Hog's Breath Inn, wasn't sure about a future invitation. Will AT&T say to him, We want you back? "That," said Murray dramatically, "is the very big question." Pleeeeeeeease.)
l) The Waterford crystal company of Waterford, Ireland, will make, pack and ship to O'Meara a 58-piece suite of crystal worth more than $10,000, plus a replica of the tournament trophy worth another $12,000. When you consider that O'Meara won the pro-am portion of the tournament in 1984 and the pro portion in '85, '89 and '90, that's 237 pieces of crystal, worth at least $110,000. (When somebody asked O'Meara what he did with it all, he said, "I don't use it. I don't know where it is." Just then he was introduced to the man next to him—the president of the crystal company. Oooops.)
m) Some enterprising young man will start Sunday sizzling on the first five holes—four of which, being inland holes, of course, aren't really Pebble Beach holes—and think he has the tournament won. Then he will bogey number 8, one of the hardest holes in the free world, and get lassoed by O'Meara on the back nine. (This time it was Sluman, who birdied holes 2, 3, 4 and 5, bogeyed 8 and lost four strokes to O'Meara by the 18th. When Sluman and O'Meara went to the 16th tee for the playoff, you either had to be blind or Sluman's mother not to see who was going to win. "I know one thing," said O'Mcara's caddie, Donnie Wanstall. "If I was stepping on this golf course with that man, I'd be intimidated." Sluman bogeyed. O'Meara parred. End of playoff.)
n) Pebble Beach's Japanese owner, Minoru Isutani, will take a murderous tongue-whomping at the local bistros, where he will be vilified as greedy and evil, and accused of trying to turn Pebble Beach into Kyoto Country Club West.
o) Nobody will mention that Pebble Beach is still public and has never been more immaculate. Wait. Somebody did mention the fine conditions. The pros.
p) Some celebrity will make a hole in one, and 30,000 people will try to follow him into the 19th hole for a free drink. (This year Randy Quaid got the ace.)
q) A few pros who miss the three-day cut will have to stick around and play the fourth day because their pro-am team survived the pro-am cut. This means that a guy who could go make $25,000 in a one-day outing is stuck playing an extra day so his partner can win a crystal trophy. You know what we say? Good.
r) O'Meara will grasp his trophy and say how lucky he got. (What he didn't mention is that he hasn't had an over-par round in four tournaments and is 53 under for '92.)
s) An unknown will lead on Friday. (P.H. Horgan III was the coleader after two days this year.)
t) The unknown will be forgotten by Saturday. (Horgan finished 56th.)
u) The maddening par-3, 107-yard 7th at Pebble will ruin another good man. Three years ago San Francisco Archbishop William Swing made a hole in one on the 7th. "Son of a bitch!" the archbishop screamed. "I've been waiting my whole life to make that shot!" Two years ago he shot a six.
v) The party for the tournament volunteers will be, as always, the best in golf. And free. (This year it starred Charlie Daniels, Glen Campbell, Tommy Smothers, Vince Gill and John Denver.)
w) Smart caddies will abandon the pros in favor of nice juicy jillionaires. (That's what John Daly's caddie, Greg Rita, did. While Daly took a week off, Rita took Packer. "Are you kidding?" one caddie said at the beginning of the week. "If he [Packer] wins this thing, Rita will make more than the winner." Rita wasn't saying afterward, but he was smiling largely.)
x) Smothers will offer essential golf advice. This time he announced his new book, The 27 Most Important Things to Remember at the Moment of Impact.
y) Whenever the U.S. Open is scheduled for Pebble Beach, as it is this year, the USGA will see how the pros tore up the course (four 64s this year alone) and panic. It will stop watering the greens, mowing the rough and feeding the sea lions. Or better yet, the USGA will simply blow up O'Meara's house.
z) The crystal will be the only thing unharmed.