If you wake up Saturday or Sunday morning and think golf and coast line, head for Pebble Beach and the Nature Valley First Tee Open that teams Champions Tour players with First Tee players from across the country.

The Pebble event is an exceptional opportunity to get up close to champions such as Hale Irvin, Bernhard Langer, Tom Lehman, Vijay Singh, Tom Watson and Colin Montgomery to name a few plus characters such as John Daly, Woody Austin (who has been quite successful on the Champions Tour) and Rocco Mediate (another Champions success).

We were among the few hundred spectators following groups in alternatively sunny and windy/foggy weather Friday afternoon. The weather Saturday and Sunday is expected to be near perfect for the fall in Carmel. There is no admission cost to the 17-mile drive, parking is free and so is admission. It’s an ideal way to spend an early fall weekend day.

We happened to follow groups with pros Gene Sauers, Joe Durant and Vijay Singh along the stunning ocean-side fifth, sixth, seventh and eight holes enjoying the amazing vistas as well as the quality golf. Sauers ended up one of four players tied for second at 4-under, two behind Paul Broadhurst who shot 66 at Pebble. Both Broadhurst and Sauers have won senior majors this year.

Durant happened to have Golf Channel’s travel specialist Matt Ginella playing in his foursome. During the broadcast, commentator Lanny Wadkins joked that Ginella was getting more airtime as an amateur than he does on his normal Morning Drive gig.

Golf Channel/NBC personalities Peter Jacobsen and John Cook are also in the field and in the broadcast window for Saturday. The field will be cut after Saturday’s full-field round that is being staged at Pebble Beach and Poppy Hills.

There are a number of Bay Area First Tee competitors including: Catherine Batang from San Francisco; Isabelle Castro, Jacob Meyberg and Joshua Meyberg from Silicon Valley (all from San Jose) and Rachel Roter from Tri-Valley (Livermore).

Incidentally, we happened across John Daly, a rookie on the PGA Tour Champions. Having seen him many times on TV, I was struck that he was not as tall/big a man as I had thought watching him.

One of Sauers’ amateur partner was former A’s pitcher Mark Mulder, who was in splendid condition (big and lean) and playing scratch golf.  He bombed his driver.

—Tim Hunt


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