By Pete Pappas
GolfWRX Staff Writer
Charlie Wi is about to be tested like he’s never been tested in his winless 162 game, seven-year PGA Tour career. Wi holds the lead at 12-under after two days at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, three shots ahead of second-place Dustin Johnson, already a two-time winner at this event in 2009 and 2010.
But just beneath Johnson on the scoreboard is a dogged crowd of players bunched up between 6-under and 8-under anticipating, no, salivating for Wi to falter.
And no one’s going to care that Wi is one of the nice guys if he indeed does slip up.
Charlie Wi, welcome to the PGA’s version of running of the bulls. Only you’re in Pebble Beach, not Pamplona. You’re surrounded by the majestic Pacific Ocean crashing below the cliffs, rather than the wooden and iron barricades in the Spanish streets.
And instead of a herd of terrifyingly angry bulls chasing you? You have a dizzying onslaught of multiple winners and major champions, players with something to prove, players with chips on their shoulders, and oh yeah a few guys named Phil and Tiger, all breathing down your neck. And they’re all looking to mow you down and give you the horns Charlie Wi.
Charlie Wi? Are you ready for this?
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Wi had nightmares Friday night, and probably nightmares of being chased by that same menacing cartel of major champions and multiple winners just mentioned. But this is all normal. Being chased in your dream normally means worry. And whatever is pursuing you in your dream is your unconscious mind letting you know that you need to face some responsibilities.
162 games over 7 years and all you have to show for it is a cameo in the late night Stack and Tilt Golf Channel infomercials? You’re better than that Charlie Wi. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes just this weekend alone.
Two days in a row you’ve lead the field in eagles. Two days in a row you’ve lead the field in birdies. You rank first in driving accuracy, second in putts per green in regulation, and third in total putts. Charlie Wi it’s time to face your fears head on and take these bulls by their horns. You have the game to do it. You have the game to win the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Or, you could be content to be a mere footnote in this tournament, much like Rickie Fowler will be for his Friday afternoon color ensemble that made him look like an imulsion eating lambent glowstick straight out of the video game Gears of War 3 (which turned out by the way to be long on hype and short on bite). Is that what you want Charlie Wi?
Saturday is moving day Charlie Wi. Be assertive. Be aggressive. Position yourself to fight back the likes of Dustin Johnson (nine-under), Padraig Harrington (eight-under), Vijay Singh (eight-under), Brian Gay (eight-under), Danny Lee (eight-under), Hunter Mahan (seven-under), Phil Mickelson (seven-under), and of course Tiger Woods (six-under).
I want to see more shots like your magnificent long iron on No. 8 that you stuck inside 10 feet and then calmly rolled in for birdie.
I don’t want to see shots like your tentative putt on No. 2 that cost you a birdie and nearly sent you into raving Woody Austin putter meets head combat mode (by the way he has won a few times already on tour).
Your critics are saying you struggle mightily in January and February events, and are probably already writing their Monday headlines like “Careless Wi-sper”, or “Sorry Charlie” anticipating you’ll provide a Jekyll and Hyde performance, erratic shot making and ultimately intimidated collapse. Don’t let it happen Charlie.
If you think I’m being hard on you, I am. But it’s a tough love. You’re living the dream man. And there are hundreds of thousands of people living vicariously through you. There are hundreds of thousands of people who dream of being in the position you’re in: leading a field overflowing with the some of the most respected names and notable winners in the game today.
Harrington moved up 38 spots Friday shooting a six-under 66 for his round at Pebble Beach, hitting 15 of 18 greens-in-regulation. While Mickelson playing at Monterey Peninsula, moved up 33 spots Friday, shooting a five-under 65 for the round, and also hitting 15 greens-in-regulation. Singh meanwhile moved up 12 spots shooting 4-under 68 at Spyglass Hill, starting strong on his front nine with four birdies in the first seven holes.
Johnson of course is right on your heels (although his 72 at Spyglass Hill was his highest round at the course in four career starts there).
And the world remains on the edge of its seat waiting for Tiger to break through and finally win an official PGA Tour event (his drought extends back to the 2009 BMW Championship). Tiger seems ready to do his part, saying after Friday’s round, “I gotta go get it tomorrow.”
All of these guys are major championship winners, and are either in the zone, on fire, or just knocking at the door to remind you there’s a long way still to go for that first win. Big time players. Big time names. Big time games.
But you know what Charlie Wi? You have a very real opportunity to finish ahead of all of them. Slam the door closed on all of them. And earn your first professional PGA Tour win on arguably the most prestigious and grandest course anywhere on the planet, in possibly the most memorable way imaginable, against some of the best players in the game today, and presumptively some of the best to ever play the game.
Charlie Wi, 2012 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Champion. Has a Wi-nning ring to it don’t you think?
Harrington and J.P McManus sit atop the celebrity leaderboard at 25-under, while defending champions D.A Points and partner Bill “My foe, my enemy is an animal.” Murray are tied for 26th place at 12-under.
Round 3 coverage resumes Saturday at 10:00 am PST on Golf Channel, and at 12:00 pm PST on CBS.