NO ONE will say itfor the record, but the word on 17-Mile Drive is that comedian Bill Murray hasplayed in his last AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Murray, who usuallypartners unflappable Tour vet Scott Simpson, apparently feels that after 15appearances since his Pro-Am debut in 1992, it's time to cede center stage toGeorge Lopez. Alas, Ray Romano forges on undaunted. More Pebble: On Jan.¬†4the Monterey Peninsula was pounded by heavy rains, high winds and waves so bigthat they crashed over the tiny 7th green. Much of the sand was washed out ofthe greenside bunkers, and workers had to soak the green with fresh water forseveral days to flush out the salt residue. The good news: All should be finewhen the Pro-Am tees off on Feb.¬†7.
• Last November thePGA Tour announced that 2008 would bring a new cut policy meant to shortenweekend rounds often prolonged by clogged fairways. Basically, the policy saysthat if the top 70 and ties add up to more than 78 players, the cut moves tothe next lowest number, as long as it's below 70. The pros caught in cut hellare marked MDF (made cut, didn't finish) and given an equal payout, some FedExCup points and the weekend off. Not surprisingly, many players were bothunaware of and unhappy with the policy. (Jim Furyk: "I think itstinks.") The Tour contends that in the last 12 years only 508 playerswould have been impacted by the rule, and just one of them, Anthony Kim at the2007 Zurich Classic, finished in the top five. But the Tour only looked atplayers who would have been marked MDF. Overall, since 1990, 60 players havemade the cut on the number and then gone on to finish in the top five,including three winners (José María Olaàbal, '02 San Diego; Brad Faxon, '05Hartford; and Chris Couch, '07 New Orleans). Wouldn't it be better to simplyenforce the existing slow-play rules?
• Ted Forstmann,the owner of IMG, has always had an eye for the ladies. In the past he hassquired, among others, Diana, Princess of Wales, and Elizabeth Hurley, Princessof Estée Lauder products. Two weeks ago Forstmann wooed a new client, NatalieGulbis, the LPGA player, calendar girl and TV personality, away from Octagon.Forstmann says that at IMG, which has an international TV production operationand a modeling division, Gulbis will be represented by an all-purpose celebrityagent, John Steele, who works in New York. "John is more of a branddirector," says Mark Steinberg, the agent for Tiger Woods and AnnikaSorenstam and head of IMG's Cleveland-based golf division. "Natalie is verypopular globally. We'll do a fabulous job for her overseas." Steinberg saysthat Gulbis's first commitment is to playing LPGA events but suggested that shemight play abroad more in the future. Forstmann¬†II: Mr.¬†IMG alsowelcomes drug testing on the PGA and LPGA tours. "Steroids are fake,"says Forstmann, who at age 67 has a head of fluffy white hair. "I could dyemy hair, but that'd be fake too. It's cost me some women, but what are yougoing to do?" Evidently, Gulbis is all right with it.
For complete BobHope Chrysler Classic coverage, go to GOLF.com.
January 21, 2008
Players who've won more Tour events than K.J. Choi since2005.
He Said / He Said
Off-season Lasik surgery is all the rage--or is it?
"I went through a few caddies last year, and theyall told me I was blind. . . . I've never seen this well before in my life. Itdefinitely helps on the greens."
"I had it done, and the first week it was awesome. .. . Slowly it got worse and worse. Now it's not very good. . . . I have [mycaddie] line me up, and I pull the trigger."
"He can never escape his status as a person ofcolor."--MY SHOT, PAGE G16