In its 98 years of existence, Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links has consistently seen the world’s best players rise to the occasion, whether it has been via the 11 USGA championships contested there or during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which has been conducted annually on the picturesque Monterey Peninsula venue since 1947.
Names such as Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Tiger Woods, Tom Kite, Byron Nelson, Phil Mickelson, Johnny Miller, Billy Casper, Mark O’Meara, Payne Stewart and Dustin Johnson have all won at Pebble Beach, the first four claiming both U.S. Open and AT&T titles there.
And since the AT&T Pro-Am moved to Pebble Beach from San Diego after World War II, it has been won by USGA champions 39 times.
Make that 40.
Three-time USGA champion Jordan Spieth, buoyed by a third-round 65 at Pebble on Saturday, cruised to a four-stroke victory and topped a leader board that featured USGA champions in the first four spots. It was his ninth PGA Tour win; only nine-time USGA champion Woods has won that many times before his 24th birthday. They are also the only two players with multiple U.S. Junior Amateur victories.
Youngest players to reach 9 wins on TOUR…— Skratch (@Skratch) February 12, 2017
Tiger (23 years, 5 months)
Spieth (23 years, 6 months)
Nicklaus (24 years) pic.twitter.com/bvkKXTIuur
Spieth, at 23 years, 6 months, also became the second-youngest winner of the AT&T Pro-Am, behind 1978 U.S. Amateur champion John Cook, who was two months younger than Spieth when he won there in 1981.
“Man, it’s great to win at Pebble Beach,” said Spieth.
Few players on the planet can match Spieth when his putter is on fire, and his 23-putt performance on Saturday catapulted him to a six-stroke advantage through 54 holes. The 2015 U.S. Open champion wasn’t quite as sizzling at Pebble on Sunday, but his bogey-free, 2-under-par 70 was plenty enough to keep his pursuers at bay and post 19-under 268.
“That’s a dream round when you’re leading by a bunch,” said Spieth, who posted his first PGA Tour win since the Dean & Deluca Invitational at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, last May. Spieth also won the Australian Open in November.
“I don’t like boring golf,” added Spieth. “But that’s what was needed today.”
A trio of USGA champions finished right behind Spieth, including a career-best showing by 2011 U.S. Amateur champion Kelly Kraft. The Denton, Texas, native and good friend of Spieth carded a 5-under 67 on Sunday to finish second. His only other top 10 in a PGA Tour event came in last year’s John Deere Classic (T-5). Kraft is hoping to get a return visit to Erin Hills for the U.S. Open this summer, where he beat Patrick Cantlay, 2 up, in the 36-hole championship match six years ago.
“This is great. “This is an awesome place,” said Kraft of Pebble Beach.” My game has been really good [of late]. I just haven’t clicked all four rounds and everything clicked here. And what a place to do it.”
Reigning U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson posted a 68 on Sunday to finish in third at 14-under 273, while 2003 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion Brandt Snedeker, who owns two AT&T Pro-Am wins, was another stroke back at 13-under 274.
Two years from now, Spieth will have a chance to join Nicklaus, Watson and Woods as a U.S. Open and AT&T champion at Pebble Beach when the championship is held there in 2019 to celebrate the venue’s centennial. The U.S. Amateur also will be played at Pebble Beach in 2018.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.