by Jeff Skinner
We often hear golf analysts use the term “ideal scoring conditions” when many players go low during a round. Well the conditions couldn’t have been better Thursday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. With idyllic weather, no wind and perfect greens players were going low, very low.
Think of this: Charlie Wi shot a 61 at Monterey Peninsula and he is only tied for the lead at nine under par. Danny Lee and Dustin Johnson matched his nine under par with 63’s at Pebble Beach. Ken Duke and Brian Harman carded a pair of 64’s at Pebble to stay one stroke back of the trio of leaders.
Those top five golfers managed eight eagles, thirty birdies and only three bogeys for their day. Wi had a 28 for his front nine and the surprising Duke set a new back nine record at Pebble Beach when he birdied eighteen for a shocking 28.
Duke, 43, has to be one of the feel good stories of the day. He had played on tour earlier in 2004 and 2007-2009 but lost his card. He played the Nationwide Tour last year and earned his way back to the big show with a seventh place finish on the money list. As a child in Arkansas he suffered from scoliosis, curvature of the spine, the same condition that LPGA player Stacy Lewis had endured.
Both Duke and Lewis had to wear a back brace for years but when they saw no improvement surgeons inserted steel rods in their backs. In a strange bit of irony, The University of Arkansas has established The Ken Duke Endowed Chair in Scoliosis and Stacy Lewis was an All-American at Arkansas. The two of them are walking billboards for the success of those surgeons.
This is what a leaderboard looks like under ideal scoring conditions.