Friday at the Nature Valley First Tee Open
September 26, 2014
John Cook called the new Poppy Hills a “big improvement over the old version.”
The 1981 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner certainly looked comfortable there.
Cook grabbed a share of second place in Friday’s first round of this weekend’s Nature Valley First Tee Open at Pebble Beach, posting a 4-under 67 on the recently renovated layout.
Starting on the front-nine, Cook carded a so-so even par 36 to start his day. On the back-nine, Cook got going, carding four birdies to go with five pars.
On the 12th he’d save par with a great up and down from the right greenside bunker. On the par-3 15th he knocked an 8-iron to within 8 feet of the flagstick and sank the putt. He’d finish by reaching the green on 18 in two with a hybrid and two-putting from 20 feet.
“I had a really good back nine,” Cook said. “I had a lot of good golf shots.”
Blaine McCallister, a five-time winner on the PGA Tour, grabbed the overall lead with a late afternoon 5-under 66 at Poppy Hills after he finished with back-to-back birdies on No.8 and No.9. On the 8th he sank a 6-footer, while on the 9th he hit a sand wedge to within a foot of the flagstick after laying up.
“They’ve done a great job with the re-do,” McAllister said. “Overall it was a great day. I’m playing a lot better and making some putts.”
This weekend’s First Tee Open is the first tour event to be held at Poppy Hills since the 2009 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Also in the clubhouse at 4-under were John Inman and Tom Byrum, who were both at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Skip Kendall, who got through Tuesday’s open qualifier at Bayonet/Black Horse GC, also came in at 4-under, posting a 67 at Poppy Hills that ended with a birdie on the 18th after a great up and down from the bunker.
“The course played beautifully,” said Kendall, a Champions Tour rookie. “I putted well and took advantage of the opportunities I had.”
Larry Mize got to 4-under through his first 12 holes at Poppy Hills, but lost all of his momentum with a double-bogey on the par-5 4th.
Three-time First Tee Open winner Jeff Sluman was the first off the No.1 tee, going out at 7:30 a.m.
Both the par-1st and par-3 6th were the stingiest holes at Poppy Hills. Neither gave up a birdie in the first round.
In the Pro-Junior portion of the tournament, Junior Tour of Northern California member Logan Lowe and Sluman are just a stroke off the lead (held by Lee Janzen and First Tee member Chris Meyers) after posting a 63 at Poppy Hills.
Play will also be held at both Poppy Hills and Pebble Beach Saturday, with Sunday’s final round being held at Pebble Beach. Admission is free.