Rory McIlroy and his dad live Pebble Beach dream with Lefty

From ESPN - February 8, 2018

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- The dateline is as famous as any in the game outside of St. Andrews and Augusta, and playing golf at any of the iconic courses along 17-Mile Drive is a treasured goal among avid players and hackers alike.

To do so in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am takes the experience to another level, and so it is this weekend for Gerry McIlroy, getting his first taste of golf on the Monterey Peninsula.

"I am living the dream,'' McIlroy said between shots Thursday at Spyglass Hill, one of three courses used in the rotation for the annual PGA Tour event that got its start in the 1930s with the backing of entertainer Bing Crosby, an avid and excellent golfer in his own right.

In the case of Mr. McIlroy, it certainly helps to have a multi-millionaire son whose golf prowess is well documented. Rory McIlroy, 28, elected to put this tournament on his schedule for the first time, and inviting his dad along as his amateur partner makes for a special week.

"It was awesome,'' Rory McIlroy said after shooting 4-under par 68. "It was great being out there with him. It's been such a good week so far. He went over and abandoned me on Monday to go play Cypress (Point), which is understandable.

"We played Pebble (Beach) on Tuesday, Monterey (Peninsula) yesterday and then here today and it's awesome. The weather and just everything, it's been a really good week so far.''

The other pro in the group is Phil Mickelson, who was 2 over par through 11 holes but rallied to make five birdies over the last 7 to shoot 69. Playing at Pebble Beach for the 22nd time, Mickelson has won the tournament four times.

After all these years, it would be understandable if Mickelson wanted to skip the tournament. The days are long, with rounds typically stretching well beyond 5 hours. That is the nature of the tournament, with foursomes including two amateurs in each group.

Throw in three courses to learn, some years when the weather can be brutal and bumpy greens and there are many players who have been apt to overlook its beauty.

Mickelson, 47, sees a bigger picture.

"I really enjoy this event and it's a great opportunity to use the strength of the game of golf, which is the ability to play and compete with fans of the game and to be able to interact with many of the people that support and sponsor the game of golf,'' he said.

"This is a big tournament for us, having that personal relationship really adds to the PGA Tour and its partnerships. But more than that, I love the golf courses and I love coming up here and playing on days like this that make it just spectacular. Even the bad weather days you come to enjoy and appreciate the challenge of this place. I just love everything about it.''

Besides the celebrities and athletes who typically dot the amateur field -- Wayne Gretzky, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Young, Alex Smith, Justin Verlander, Darius Rucker, Jake Owen, Billy Murray and Tony Romo to name some -- a number of corporate executives also participate.


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