by Scott MacLeod, via www.flagstick.com (Flagstick Golf Magazine)
It will be a reoccurring theme this week at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. The name Dustin Johnson will be in just about every sentence uttered by the television announcers until another player can emerge from his shadow and in to a winning position.
It’s justified, of course, as the two-time defending champion Johnson deserves praise for his feat that put him in the company of Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff, Tom Watson, Mark O’Meara, and Jack Nicklaus. Despite a final round of 74 last year he made a key birdie on the final hole to surge ahead of David Duval and J.B. Holmes for what was then his 3rd career PGA Tour title.
What will also not be overlooked was Johnson’s monumental collapse the last time he traversed the Pebble Beach Golf Links, during the 2010 United States Open Championship last June where he torpedoed his chance at a major victory with a final round score of 82. But will not likely deter the very confident 26 year-old this week on a track where he feels very comfortable and is always a threat. Early sports book lines still have him as a slight favorite over Phil Mickelson.
Other notable players in the field include 2-time winner in 2011, Mark Wilson, 2010 FedEx Cup Champion and PGA Tour Player of the Year Jim Furyk, and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington.
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Dates: February 10-13, 2011
Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links (Host) Par/Yards: 36-36—72/6,816
Spyglass Hill Golf Course Par/Yards: 36-36—72/6,953
Monterey Peninsula CC, Shore Course Par/Yards: 35-35—70/6,838
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson
Purse: $6,300,000; Winner’s Share: $1,134,000: Format: 72-hole stroke play
While the majority of the PGA Tour is spending time mingling with celebrities another heroic golf battle will be taking place on the other side of the world. The three top-ranked players on the planet, Lee Westwood, Martin Kaymer, and Tiger Woods will be paired together at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. It is the first time since 1994 that the top three in the world have played in the same European Tour event other than the Major Championships and World Golf Championships.
Kaymer has a chance to overtake Westwood for the number one spot and will be playing with Tiger Woods for the very first time. Kaymer says he likes his chances more this week to get to the top spot, pointing out that he is much more comfortable on this course than the one that hosted the Qatar Masters last week.
“I’ve never played with Tiger Woods before,” said Kaymer in a press conference earlier this week. “Of course I've met him but I don't know how it is to play with him, so it will be nice. It will be great for the tournament, having the top three playing on Thursday and Friday. So I look forward to it."
Tiger, who is coming off a lackluster performance at the Farmers Insurance Open, is hoping to regain the form that has saw him win in Dubai twice before. Whether he can rise to the occasion and put a challenge to Kaymer and Westwood (coming off a couple weak performances himself) should draw record ratings for this European Tour event. Woods last played this event in 2008 but missed the 2009 edition due to injury and in the wake of a personal scandal, did not make the trip last year.
This report provided to GolfWRX.com by Canada's Flagstick Golf Magazine (www.flagstick.com)