E&T, phone Pebble Beach

No Tiger. No Ernie. Now’s your chance boys. Go get ’em.
No Tiger. No Ernie. Now’s your chance boys. Go get ’em.

The 2003 AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach will go on as scheduled even though the two best golfers in the world – Tiger Woods and Ernie Els – won’t be there.

That makes the odds on favorite Jin Park. Oh, you haven’t heard of Park? Not by the hair of your Jinny-Jin, Jin, you say? He’s the assistant pro over at Spyglass Hill, which, along with Pebble Beach and Poppy Hills, make up the first three rounds.

Park won the NCPGA match play last year to get into this year’s AT&T field.

“We’re all rooting for him,” said Aaron Benedetti, an assistant pro at Pebble. “He’s a local favorite. Someone with local knowledge has an edge in a tournament like this. He’s played on a few tour events. He’s trying to get started.”

The lack of rain means firm greens and fairways. Which gives the advantage to?

“As firm as the golf course is, you got to imagine, the guy who can hit it long, but can also hit it high and stop it quick,” said Benedetti. “I know that’s pretty much true for every golf course that you play, but the golf course really is firmer than these guys have ever seen it. A lot of the greens you’re having to hit front edge to get it stop in the middle. These greens are really deceptive.”

Defending champ Matt Gogel feels Vijay Singh has gotta thing because he has that swing to play well this week.

“Vijay can put a lot of spin on the ball,” said Gogel. “Fred Couples comes to mind. Mark O’Meara has won the tournament five times. He’s a possibility.”

“It’s always wide open,” said Brad Faxon. “The courses are much faster than what we’ve seen the past few years. Beautiful weather predicted. I’m excited. I think everybody wants to see the course play like this.”

Pat Perez, who is anxious to tee it up this week despite his now famous collapse at No. 18 last year at Pebble, falling to Gogel, said look out for him.

“Put me down as one of those guys who can win it,” said Perez, not one to lack confidence. “Sure, why not.”

Other Pebble sand bites:

Rush Limbaugh, sans 60 pounds or so, but with stogie in mouth, teed it up in a practice round at Pebble Tuesday. Hit hit his first two tee shots out of bounds – to the right, of course.

Pat Perez’ best Tour buddy: John Daly. Perez and Daly, a couple of walking time bombs breaking break together. Perez – “We don’t go out. Daly can’t go out”.

Milestone announcement Tuesday afternoon: AT&T committed its sponsorship through 2010, which made Clint Eastwood’s day. Eastwood was present at the announcement along with other heavyweights, AT&T Chairman and CEO David Dorman and Vice Chairman Peter Ueberroth. Ca-Ching.

Five weeks ago, a 90-mile per hour wind stirred up 40-foot swales, sending waves crashing over the 18th green and fairway. Everything was trashed. The right bunker was completely full of salt water. Half the 18th green was roped off Tuesday. Guests have been playing on a practice green 50 yards short and loving every minute of it.

Making an appearance in the press room and hardly getting noticed at all was 6-foot-3 volleyball player Gabrielle Reece, who apparently is on a golf kick.

Saw “Coach” Craig T. Nelson smoking a cigarette after teeing off on No. 1 at Pebble.

His practice partner Peter Funt reportedly caught it on camera.

Disappointing a small gallery at No. 1 at Pebble by not showing up for their slated practice rounds were Davis Love III, Charles Howell and Fred Couples. Boom-boom was busy booming it on the driving range.

Gogel related a funny story about being mistaken for Justin Leonard while aboard a cruise, but you had to be there.

Gogel trivia: The only golfer from Kansas University to ever make the tour.

And no, Gogel doesn’t have gogel eyes.

Lee Janzen, with a quiet third place finish a year ago, is back this year.

Should be an entertaining foursome on Spyglass Thursday: Scott McCarron/Chris O’Donnell and Peter Jacobsen/Huey Lewis.

Too bad Lewis wasn’t in the same foursome as Neil Young. Now that would be a jam session to end all. Two Glenn’s Frey and Campbell and let the band play on.

Pro-Am Ca-Ching winner: Phil Mickelson and Charles Schwab.

And there’s the foursome where the amateurs will get more attention than the pros: Brian Claar/Donald Trump and Skip Kendall/Maury Povich.

There will be a Woods playing – actor James Woods, paired with Arron Oberholser.

Shouldn’t David Peoples and Fred Couples be paired on g.p.?

Same for pro John Daly and amateur Carson Daly.

Nice of amateur Geoff Couch to get off of it and play some golf.

Hope you get off your couch, or coach, take that cigarette out of your mouth and head to the AT&T. And if you see E&T, tell them to call Pebble because the weather’s fine. But, tell them to use AT&T.

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