PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Well, it’s another year of unpredictable weather at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Being on the coastline on the Monterey Peninsula often brings its fair share of wind and rain, and this year even some hail on Tuesday.
Players and caddies alike took cell phone videos throughout the courses when the hail began on Tuesday afternoon. A site some had never seen in a PGA Tour event.
Told ya the weatherman stinks around here. Only a 10% chance of rain but no mention of sleet or hail. pic.twitter.com/NVt7aHlO1g
— Kip Henley PGA loopr (@KipHenley) February 6, 2019
But remember, this is Pebble Beach week.
This is that week where we love to tune in and watch these iconic courses on TV, especially Pebble. But it’s certainly not an easy week for caddies.
“It’s a tough week for caddies, tough courses to walk with no rain gear, but then when you load the bag with an extra 15 or 20 pounds and it’s an even tougher walk,” Austin Johnson, who loops for his brother Dustin, said. “Luckily the rounds are long so you can put the bag down a lot, but it’s still a challenge. Boy do we sleep good at nights this week.”
On Friday at Spyglass Hill, Johnson’s group — with Jordan Spieth and amateur playing partners Wayne Gretzky and Jake Owen –dealt with rain for most of the round, something that Austin had to plan for when he packed the bag that morning.
“Normally I take one towel for DJ’s clubs, but on Friday I had three extra towels. If there’s a chance that it rains all day long like there was on Friday, you can never have enough dry towels,” Austin said.
“I’ve got extra towels, rain gear, sweaters, thermals, you name it, it’s fully loaded.”
When most of us watch this event, it’s usually on the weekend, where we take in views of the famous seventh hole — which looks out-of-this-world whether it’s bathed in sun or raining sideways.
On Saturday at Pebble, during a round that started with almost cloudless sunshine, Adam Scott stood on the famous seventh and pulled 8-iron as the conditions had changed drastically.
“It was 113 yards to the hole,” Scott’s caddie John Limanti said. “It plays downhill 10 yards, so it was actually 103 yards, and so we just chipped an 8-iron. He actually pulled that club and said he was going to hit at the number. So that’s what he did.”
Scott normally hits his 8-iron 165-170 yards and is one of the purest iron shot-makers on Tour, “but it was fairly windy (15 mph) and the temperature dropped, and the rain was coming through.”
Still, this just goes to show that these big hitters aren’t always flipping a gap wedge on that short seventh as it often looks like on TV.
Heck, it seems like even some of the low-handicap celebs are just flipping wedges in there.
But that’s not always the case.
Two years ago here at Pebble Beach, Cameron Tringale pulled his 5-iron on the 17th in a downpour. It was playing 160 yards and he ended up short of the green. And his 5-iron he normally hits about 200 yards.
Limanti has been caddying for 11 years on the PGA Tour and just started with Adam Scott in October at the Japan Open.
He estimates that this is his seventh AT&T Pebble Beach ProAm and he’s never seen the Monterey Peninsula courses this saturated.
“This is the toughest AT&T that I’ve experienced, and it’s just so long and wet and the golf balls are plugging in fairways.
On Saturday, marshals marked the four balls in Scott’s group on the first fairway with small, individual flags because the ground was so soggy and they could easily plug. Limanti estimates they weren’t more than six yards from each other.
“I’ve never seen that in 11 years on the PGA Tour,” Limanti said.
Later in the round, after Limanti had seen how much water these fairways were holding, he had a thought as he stepped from 15 tee to fairway.
“I jokingly asked Adam and the guys in our group ‘you think these fairways will be dry by June?’”
Of course the U.S. Open is headed here for Pebble then.
“Adam just started chuckling because there’s just so much water in this place,” Limanti said.
Limanti, like Austin Johnson, adds extra towels to the bag in this kind of unpredictable weather.
“I always have one extra towel in the bag, but when the weather is calling for rain like it was this weekend, I threw another one in there.
“When you’re on the coast, you’ve got to be ready for the worst,” Limanti said. “So we’ve got ski caps and full rain gear. We were both dressed warm and we had the extras. I don’t want us to be caught without the right gear.”
Ray Romano’s caddie
Ray Romano is one of the mainstays of this event for the past two decades.
His boyhood friend Claude Choo, who he grew up with in Queens, N.Y., has bowled with and has played on basketball and softball teams together, has caddied in 18 AT&Ts for his good buddy of 44 years.
“I just love being here, it’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years,” Choo said Saturday. “Of course making the cut is the big goal, but we want to win the Pro-Am one year. That’s the goal.”
Interestingly, Romano does not pick his pro each year. He just takes whomever the tournament assigns to him.
“It’s luck of the draw,” Choo smiles. “One year we had Graeme McDowell, and it was before he won the 2010 U.S. Open, and neither of us had heard of him. We looked at his name and said, ‘do we call him Graem-y?’ and now look what he’s done since then,” Choo said.
So in 18 years on the bag of one of the world’s most famous comedians, what moment stands out here at the AT&T?
“The biggest moment for me was when we made the cut for the first time. I don’t remember the year. But that pitch shot he sank from 60 yards out on 16. That was a biggie,” Choo said. “We were screaming after that and then we thought, ‘we have a chance!’ And we had an audience with everyone screaming in the crowd for us.”