The Nissan Open 2007


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My plan was to wait until Sunday to tune in to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am because by then even the TV people have tired of seeing George Lopez’s act, there are less celebrities on the course, and so we actually get to see some tournament golf played by professionals.

I thought I could hack it, though, so I tuned in a little each day. There was Huey Lewis, Kevin Costner, Kenny G, Carson Daly, and Bill Murray, who is starting to undermine his persona by continuing to appear in this suck job of a professional, er, pro-am golf tournament. By Sunday I’d lost hope that they would actually show golf.

Murray isn’t funny on the course anymore. It’s sad. He doesn’t do Carl Spackler, so what we got instead was silly headwear and when he made a good shot he unbuttoned his shirt to reveal a t-shirt. This is funny? This is worth seeing for five minutes when professionals on the leaderboard are making moves somewhere off camera? Even Murray, who I’ve always said is funny just because-look at him and you laugh-can’t make this tournament remotely enjoyable to watch for anyone with any interest in professional tournament golf. (It might be an age thing: I wonder if Will Ferrell did the unbutton shirt thing it would be hysterical. ) And Murray’s the best chance for entertainment among the likes of Costner, Huey Lewis, Carson Daly … and George Lopez.

Nick Faldo and David Feherty still can’t get enough of Lopez and Jim Nantz was right there with them, laughing along, ho ho, ha ha, that is one funny man, indeed, he’s a riot . . . He’s not funny. He’s clean and safe for CBS, but he is most definitely not funny. Maybe he's funny on his show, but clowning around in these pro-ams he’s no funnier than the uncle at the family barbecue who everyone has been programmed to think is funny, but he’s really not. He’s just an attention monger.

Nantz is impossible. There’s a connection with his voice and the Masters that will always be there for me, but he’s more of a company man with each passing year. Listening to Nantz point out this CEO or that CEO playing with this pro or that pro-he even tells us the home country club of the CEO-reinforces the exclusivity stereotype that continues to be golf’s m. o. Rich, connected old boys like Rush Limbaugh chumming it up, smoking a stogie and chasing the ball around the course.

About the only positive thing I can say about last week’s golf on TV is that the ocean shots were nice, as always. CBS was liberal in its cutaways and for the most part Faldo, Nantz and Co. were smart enough to shut up and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Anyway, as always, this hideous stretch of Hollywood golf has just about turned me off. Augusta can’t come soon enough. The aforementioned exclusivity stereotype permeates the old nursery, of course, but at least there are no clowns taking up camera time when we could be watching golf. And the mostly commercial-free thing continues to make the Masters a more enjoyable sporting event to watch on TV than almost any other major game in sport, including the Super Bowl.

Last week: I took a bath on Mickelson. I’m done with him. I mean it this time. In the past I’ve written him off as far as betting on him to win. Now I’m not going to bet on him to lose either, as I did in the head-to-head. There’s only one other golfer to whom I apply this self-imposed off-limits restriction, Chris DiMarco, and I have to tell you that since I swore him off my life’s been better.

Tiger will not be playing Riviera Country Club for this week’s Nissan Open outside La La Land. A shame, because we would have seen the first real field of the year: most of the world’s top 20 will be there, save a handful of Europeans and Davis Love. In ten years Tiger’s going to have his schedule down to four: the majors. I wouldn’t blame him. He doesn’t owe the Tour anything. In that debate, if there’s any owing to be done it’s the Tour to Tiger. The most recognizable athlete in the world is a golfer. Nuff said.

I’m tempted to take Jeff Quinney at 100-1 given his hot start, but he’s yet to play in a big field on a real shot maker’s course like Riviera. So …

At this week’s Nissan Open take David Toms (40-1) in the outright, 1/6 unit: Toms is a quick starter and this year is no different: T8 (Mercedes), T13 (Sony, where he defended) and T8 (FBR). Smooth strokes from tee-to-green, especially on the green.

Take Jim Furyk (12-1), 1/6 unit: Did you see him answering questions about Clownfest with clenched teeth? His look summed up my frustration. At least I could turn off the TV or turn to something else. He had to play 7-hour rounds of golf with clowns and hacks. That may be the last time we see Furyk at Pebble until the U. S. Open.

Take John Rollins (66-1), 1/6 unit: The question is whether or not the week off is going to slow him down. A veteran unknown, he’s one of the hottest golfers going now. I liked that he hung tough in Phoenix and, except for a tough break hitting the flag stick on the final hole that could have helped him to a playoff, he rebounded nicely from a poorly played playoff hole at the Bob Hope. He was firing at pins Sunday at the FBR-you have to like that from a guy coming off a playoff second. Is Rollins 2007’s Bart Bryant? (Probably not now that I’ve suggested it. )

Brian Gabrielle is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at


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