Paul Casey Leads After Celebrity Saturday At Pebble Beach, Hadwin And Taylor Lead Canadian Charge

Englishman Paul Casey Is The Third Round Leader At The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am - Flickr Image Used With Permission

By Alfie Lau

The major stories from Pebble Beach on Friday afternoon when play was called due to torrential rain were: Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson were part of a five-way tie for first at the almost halfway point of the tournament; the weather was frightful, with so much rain Friday afternoon that many greens were flooded and new lakes formed wherever water pooled; a lesser known golfer, like DA Points in 2011, Vaughn Taylor in 2016 and Ted Potter Jr. in 2018 was poised to win this tournament.

Nowhere was Englishman Paul Casey a story.

Sure, Casey was one of the five co-leaders after the second round, but he was more known as the conscientious objector who refused to play in Saudi Arabia last week.

All Casey did was shoot a (-5) round at Spyglass Hill, in relative anonymity because all the television cameras were at Pebble Beach to catch celebrity hacking, whacking, slashing and hooking. Casey, now at (-15), leads left Phil Mickelson by three strokes headed into the final round at Pebble Beach Sunday.

“Very happy with my score, I am having a blast,” said Casey, who, with partner Don Colleran from FedEx, also leads the pro-am component.

Casey, who hasn’t played at Pebble in 16 years, said it was partially his friendship with Colleran that got him to the Monterey Peninsula. “My relationship with Don has grown and he really wanted to play,” said Casey. “If you have great weather, this is one of the best places on the planet and two, if you have the right partner, it can be wonderful.”

The Casey-Colleran team will be chasing two titles Sunday, but hot in pursuit is Mickelson, who said his best chance to win Sunday is if the frightful winds and rains that have tormented the region the last two weeks come in full force.

“I don’t mind if it gets really rough,” said Mickelson. “I’ve got a good chance going into tomorrow. I’m looking forward to it.

Saturday’s marquee group once again featured Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson with their amateur partners Jake Owen and Wayne Gretzky. They had to finish their second round early Saturday and a late bogey by Spieth took him out of the second-round co-lead.

Spieth would get a couple of early birdies in his third round, but all momentum ended with a double bogey at 13 and a horrible double bogey on the 18th when his drive went left and nobody on the tee box had any idea where it crossed the hazard.

After re-teeing, his fourth went far right into the gallery and another three shots later, Spieth had another double bogey and is at (-7), a whopping eight shots behind Casey. “I’m very frustrated,” said Spieth. “I kind of threw myself out of the tournament.”

Johnson had just as tough a day, with a cold putter that leaves him at (-3) and a mile away from Casey.

The early news Saturday centred around celebrated amateur Tony Romo, who withdrew before the third round to fly back to Dallas to attend the funeral of a mentor, former quarterback Wade Wilson. Romo had made news Friday by making a birdie from a hospitality tent on the 15th hole at Pebble Beach.

With it being a U.S. Open year at Pebble Beach, it appears there was a little less star power than in previous years. With no Peyton Manning or Bill Belichick, there was Matt Ryan and defending amateur champion Larry Fitzgerald.

Justin Timberlake wasn’t here this year, but we did get Rascat Flatts singer Joe Don Rooney, who can certainly golf, hitting it to four inches in the Wednesday Million Dollar Challenge on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach.

Actor Josh Duhamel, another regular at Pebble, had elbow surgery recently and could not take his usual spot , but we was still part of the festivities, serving as a bartender at Clint’s Saloon, in honour of Pebble Beach legend Clint Eastwood.

There were 10 female amateurs in the field, an all-time high punctuated by the debut of 2015 Miss America Kira Kazantsev, who has deep Northern California roots, but ironically won her title as Miss New York, because she was attending Hofstra University at the time.

Kazantsev smiled for every picture and also showed an impressive golf game, with an easy swing and better attitude, all of which translates into making the cut as one of the top-25 teams with her pro partner Ryan Armour.

That puts her ahead of these marquee teams that missed the Pro-Am cut: defending champions Larry Fitzgerald and Kevin Streelman; 2011 champions DA Points and Bill Murray; legendary family unit Dustin Johnson and Wayne Gretzky; Wisconsin legends Jerry Kelly and Aaron Rodgers; and the big story early in the week, Ho-sung Choi and Chris O’Donnell.

Leading the Canadian charge on Sunday will be two Ledgeview products, Adam Hadwin and Nick Taylor, along with Ontario’s Ben Silverman.

Hadwin shot one of the most memorable rounds on the day, with nine birdies at Monterey Peninsula to go with three bogeys and a (-6) round of 65 that moves him into the top 20 at (-8).

Taylor, playing Spyglass Hill, played his typical steady golf, with two birdies and just one bogey to go with 15 pars and his (-1) 71 takes him to (-5). Silverman, also playing at Spyglass, had just one bogey, but four birdies and a round of (-3) 69 has him tied with Taylor and in position to cash a nice cheque Sunday.

Missing the cut were Mackenzie Hughes, who had a terrible day at Pebble Beach, shooting a (+6) round of 78 to go all the way to even par for the tournament; Adam Svensson and Corey Conners, who couldn’t get anything going at Monterey Peninsula and each finished at (+3); David Hearn, who played in the celebrity flight at Pebble Beach Saturday finished at (+11); while Merritt’s Roger Sloan continues his nightmarish finishes at Pebble Beach, with a final score of (+13).