Sports
    Next Score View the next score

    Golf roundup

    Rory McIlroy in fine form during spectacular day at Pebble Beach

    Rory McIlroy, right, of Northern Ireland, talks with his father Gerry McIlroy, left, while waiting to putt on the second green of the Spyglass Hill Golf Course during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Pebble Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
    Eric Risberg/Associated Press
    Rory McIlroy and his father, Gerry, chatted during the first round ot the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Thursday.

    The one time Rory McIlroy could have been slightly annoyed was the very reason the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was so enjoyable.

    A shadow.

    McIlroy was just starting to take his driver back on the par-5 seventh at Spyglass Hill when he saw the shadow of his father move. With so much sunshine Thursday across the Monterey Peninsula, that was inevitable.

    Advertisement

    ‘‘So I backed off it. I said, ‘Fine, stand still.’ Blocked it way right and hit my second in the water,’’ McIlroy said. ‘‘Hard to say anything. Chipped in for birdie, so I was like, ‘You’re forgiven.’ ’’

    Get Sports Headlines in your inbox:
    The most recent sports headlines delivered to your inbox every morning.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    There wasn’t much not to like on a day like this, especially for Kevin Streelman and Beau Hossler.

    Streelman doesn’t even play the most golf on his pro-am team — his partner is Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a golf fanatic and regular at Whisper Rock — but he managed to put together another strong round at Spyglass and keep bogeys off his card for a 7-under-par 65.

    He shared the lead to par with Hossler, who added another strong memory from northern California. Hossler, who challenged for the lead as a 17-year-old on the weekend of the 2012 US Open at Olympic Club, was bogey-free at Pebble Beach.

    Hossler birdied the 16th and 17th and had a chance to take the lead on the par-5 18th until enough wind came up to make it a challenge. He sent his tee shot to the right, his second into a fairway bunker, didn’t quite reach the green and had to make an 8-foot putt to save par.

    Advertisement

    ‘‘Just a lot going on there, so I was glad to get out of there with a 5,’’ Hossler said.

    Aaron Wise also had a 65. He was on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, which plays to a par 71. Also at 6 under were Matt Kuchar and Julian Suri, who were at Spyglass. Suri grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., and has moved up to No. 66 in the world based on his play on the European Tour. Pebble Beach is his third straight sponsor’s exemption on the PGA Tour.

    McIlroy, meanwhile, used that unlikely birdie on No. 7 to begin his move that eventually reached 4 under until a scrappy finish for a 68, leaving him three shots behind in his debut in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

    ‘‘A couple of messy holes coming in,’’ he said. ‘‘Made a good bogey on 16. Made a great par on 17. It was nice to finish with a birdie at the last. So all in all pretty pleased.’’

    Scoring conditions were so good — everything was good this day — that 97 out of the 156 players broke par.

    Advertisement

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth was not among them. He missed a birdie chance from 3 feet on the par-5 13th hole, which was annoying because he didn’t have many looks like that. Spieth made one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars.

    He was at 72 and, after grabbing lunch, was headed out to the practice green for some work.

    It might have been more irritating on any other day but this one — not with the scenery, the ambiance at Spyglass and the social nature of this pro-am. Country singer Jake Owen kept it light, stopping on his way to the 16th tee to sing a song when someone handed him a guitar.

    Dustin Johnson, a two-time Pebble winner and the No. 1 player in the world, had very little stress after he got up-and-down from the collar of the green at the par-3 fifth hole for bogey at Spyglass for a 67. He played with hockey great Wayne Gretzky, who had two birdies.

    Johnson looked as though he might just be getting started. If that’s the case, he might have a problem. The top 25 pro-am teams advance to Sunday. One problem. Gretzky had to be in Edmonton on Sunday as the 1984-85 Oilers are celebrated as a fan vote of the greatest NHL team in the last century. The fact that tickets to the gala are going for $99 suggests the Great One probably needs to be there.

    ‘‘He’s going to play as long as he can,’’ Johnson said.

    Patrick Cantlay had the best start of anyone at Monterey Peninsula — birdie on the par-5 10th, an ace with an 8-iron at the 11th, birdie on the par-5 12th. He cooled only slightly, but still managed a 66 and was in the group at 5 under that included Paul Casey, who was at Pebble.

    The rounds didn’t last too much over five hours, which for a day debunked a couple of lazy myths — that rounds last six hours and the weather is miserable.

    Among those at 5 under was Keith Mitchell, a PGA Tour rookie who had never been to the Monterey Peninsula until he came up last week to play with retired race car driver Danny Sullivan.

    ‘‘It was awesome,’’ Mitchell said. ‘‘I love the laughs. It helps you relax and takes off some of the pressure you put on yourself. They stayed out of the way and made the crowd laugh, and that’s not easy to do.’’

    European, Asian and Australia Defending champion Brett Rumford shot an 8-under 64 to take a two-stroke lead over Lee Westwood in the World Super 6 Perth.

    Rumford led the tournament from start to finish last year, dominating the opening three rounds of stroke play before winning the final-round match-play format at Lake Karrinyup Country Club.

    Westwood, tied for second place after the first round with James Nitties of Australia, missed the cut in his first two tournaments of the year before finishing tied for 11th in Malaysia last week.

    ‘‘I don’t think this is a tournament where you want to be playing catch-up,’’ Westwood said after his 66. ‘‘You want to get yourself in the mix and try and cruise through the second and third days and get into that top 24.’’

    Nine golfers were tied for fourth, three strokes behind Rumford.

    Andrew (Beef) Johnston shot 73. He was a late replacement for fellow Englishman Tyrrell Hatton, who was the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 15 before withdrawing with a wrist injury. Danny Willett, the 2016 Masters champion, shot 76, and he and Johnston were in danger of missing the cut.

    The top 24 after three rounds play a series of six-hole shootouts in the event co-sanctioned by three tours: European, Asian and PGA of Australia.