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MontereyHerald.com:
The online publication of my employer — the Monterey County Herald newspaper in Monterey, California.


Herald coverage of the 2005 AT&T
  • TRUMP TOWERS 2/11
  • Sharing their grief, and also relief 2/11
  • Love is lurking 2/10
  • STAR GAZING 2/10
  • COMEDIC SHOWDOWN: WHAT A LETDOWN 2/10
  • Let's dispel those nasty rumors 2/10
  • Pebble winners tend to have a history 2/10
  • Stadlers team up for the kids 2/10
  • 'Drive to a Billion' tees off at Pebble 2/10
  • GIRLS' CLUBS 2/9
  • PEBBLE HAS A NEW LOOK 2/9
  • Fischer hopes to exploit knowledge 2/9
  • O'Meara no longer 'Prince of Pebble' 2/9
  • Jacobsen has plenty of tournament memories 2/9
  • Charity Day 2/8
  • Gophers anticipate Murray's fall 2/8
  • DRESSED FOR THE NINES 2/8
  • European players come out in force 2/8
  • 'Good Guy' award goes to a woman 2/8
  • Junior golfer gets to play with a pro 2/8
  • FULLY PREPARED 2/7
  • He's hot and he's on his way 2/7
  • CELEBRITY STATUS
  • PICKING UP THE PIECES 2/6




  • Gopher's Blog


    Sunday, February 13, 2005

    A Wednesday morning to forget 

    GOPHER'S BLOG
    Tried to sleep in this morning. I closed down Jack London's, the
    tavern in Carmel where all the Pebble Beach caddies hang out all week,
    and, frankly, I partied a little too hard. So, needless to say, I was
    more than a little bit annoyed when all of those people showed up so
    darned early, tromping right over my gopher hole, chattering about the
    3M Celebrity Challenge, the big charity event.
    Poked my head out and saw George Lopez, Samuel L. Jackson, Carson
    Daly, Michael Bolton, and, of course, that notorious gopher-hater, Bill
    Murray, a man who, quite frankly, should be behind bars.

    BOOMER BUST ... New this year was Chris Berman, the ESPN
    broadcaster. They say the camera adds 10 pounds, but Berman is ... well,
    bigger than life.
    "Chris is here courtesy of Weight Watchers," said Bob Murphy, the
    smart-aleck emcee. "For all of you folks who watch ESPN: Do you
    recognize this guy? I can't believe how good they make him look!"
    Berman's nickname is "Boomer," which fits his golf game. He hits it
    pretty far, when he hits it.

    ASK YOUR KIDS ... Most of the oldsters in the crowd, they weren't
    quite sure who the heck Carson Daly is. "You've gotta stay up late,"
    Murphy informed them.
    By the way, the language gets racier after prime time, and Daly
    dropped the S-bomb after topping his first drive of the day.

    DUELING DISSES ... George Lopez, the comedian ... he's got a bit of
    an identity problem, too.
    When Hunter Finnell, the local sportscaster, mentioned his name to
    Bill Murray, Murray's deadpan response was, "Who's George Lopez."
    When Finnell told him that George Lopez was a comedian with a television
    show, Murray asked, "What's the name of the show?" When Finnell said,
    "The George Lopez Show," Murray said, "Well, that gives
    me a 50-50 chance of remembering."
    When Finnell relayed the text of that exchange to Lopez, the comic
    said, "I thought he should have been nominated (for an Oscar) for
    Ghostbusters ... then I pretty much lost track of him."

    QUEUE THE BAND ... Lopez showed up wearing the bottom half of a
    mariachi outfit -- not exactly traditional attire for a golf tournament.
    "These pants are so tight, I can only wear them for five holes," he
    explained.

    PRESSURE PUTT ... Chris O'Donnell suddenly backed away from a $5,000
    putt on the 17th green, waved an arm at the large gallery and said,
    "Would all of you people please turn around and stop
    looking at me? You're making me extremely nervous!" Then, he drained the
    putt.

    CROWD CONTROL ... O'Donnell's playing partner Wednesday in the
    best-ball format was Murray, who made sure he got his due. "C'mon, it's
    The Boy Wonder, dammit," Murray shouted. "Let's hear it for
    him!"

    CROWD CONTROL II ... Murray, too, seemed to have his own press
    agent. "All you people up there in the seats: It's been a couple of
    years since Bill Murray has played here," shouted Murphy, the emcee.
    "And he has, in all humility, requested that you give him a standing
    ovation." The crowd obliged.

    HUEY AND THE NEWS ... The shot of the day came compliments of Huey
    Lewis, the rock star, who whacked a wedge shot directly into the hole --
    no bounce -- for a birdie on No. 3.
    Honorable mention went to Murray, who won a chip-off, worth $15,000,
    on No. 18, by rolling his shot within 22 inches of the cup. Despite the
    fact that several other players still had a chance to beat him,
    Murray triumphantly strutted off, waving at the crowd and pointing
    toward the leaderboard as he went. He won the contest, but wasn't around
    to collect the check, which he plans to donate to the Salinas
    libraries.


    posted by Herald Gopher at 11:14 AM

    Saturday, February 12, 2005

    I am done 

    I write now, the tears splashing the keyboard. This is my farewell blog (unless my editor gets a call from the governor).
    The tournament is almost over. The Clown Prince of Darkness, Bill Murray made the cut. There is no justice in the world. I sit in my hole wondering why God didn't make Robin Williams a half way decent golfer, it's just not right.
    I sat through the A-list stars, coughed when George Lopez put his cigar butt down my hole, watched Kevin Costner blow kisses to the crowd (I don't know why the females don't react that way when I stroll by), and ducked when the aforementioned Murray threw fruit at the crowd.
    (Remember Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire, "It must have been a drive-by fruiting, sir!" Now that's comedy).
    And so it ends. Sure, I'll watch Mickelson a little bit, but the boss says he's had enough of my tales ... I think it was the calls he was getting from the ditto heads, personally. So my writing career rides off into the sunset (Hemingway ever craft a sentence like that?), at least until next year, when I'll poke my head out of my hole, look for my shadow and ... oh, wrong movie.

    Some random observations from Saturday:
    Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann can take credit for the best mulligan of the day. Playing the Par 5, 12th hole at Poppy Hills on Saturday, Swann smacked his drive into the woods. When the marshal informed Swann that he couldn't find the ball and it was time to hit another, the Pittsburgh Steelers great voiced his frustration.
    But Swann,a 16-handicap, apparently regretted the decision. Sometime after the round, Swann searched for the marshal, finding him later in a hospitality tent. Swann walked in, took off a jersey he was wearing, signed it and gave it to the marshal (you older folks remember that Joe Greene Coke commercial?).

    At least one fan got a special souvenier from the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Standing in the gallery on the 18th hole, Carmel resident Max Pete, 15, yelled out to George Lopez that the sitcom star was his favorite comedian. Lopez sauntered to the rope line, signed his golf glove, then peeled it off and gave it to Max. Since he didn't make the cut, Lopez probably won't be needing the glove anymore this year.

    posted by Herald Gopher at 11:01 PM

    Friday, February 11, 2005

    Put on your helmets 

    I popped my head out at Poppy on Friday and felt like I was on frontlines in France circa 1917 (INCOMING!!!!). Whump, a golf ball imbeds itself feet from my hole. Kaplunk, another hits a few feet to the other side. All understandable if I had come up in a fairway. But I had come up in a wooded area between the 12th and 15th (that would be way out of bounds). There's nothing much scarier than watching these CEOs hack away. No tree or even sign post (I saw one of those go down at Pebble on Tuesday) is safe when these guys are hacking. Personally, I'd rather face Bill Murray when he's armed with a rifle and a flashlight.
    (P.S. At least one of the shuttles is playing Caddyshack on the onboard DVD player. The driver says he's had passengers ask him to take another trip around the block so they can finish watching certain scenes.)
    Anyway, despite some of The Herald's claims that I've fabricated some of my columns, well, that's all one big fabrication. I am a teller of tales who paints on the widest of canvases. Do I spill a little paint here and there on the truth? Seems to me "The DaVinci Code" did the same thing and it's a best seller ...

    Here's a peek into my notebook from Friday. Make sure and read Saturday's column about my experience with Rush Limbaugh. I've got my best column cooking for Sunday. The boss says it's going to be my swan song, so I'm making it one to remember.

    Friday's fashion award went to the foursome that included PGA pros Paul Stankowski and Jesper Parnevik, actor Andy Garcia and comedian George Lopez. The latter three were styling, big-time.
    Parnevik, as always, was positively neon, dressed in a glowing, lime-green sweater and black pants. Garcia was dashing in a Sunday-go-to-meetin' fedora. And Lopez was looking flashy in a tomato soup-colored sweater and a brown racing-style cap, turned backwards.

    Lopez temporarily traded the cap for a hat that belonged to a fan from Sacramento, Eva Reyes, who was seated just above the sand trap where the comedian's ball landed. He wore the woman's hat while he hit a pretty shot onto the green, turned to the crowd and shouted, "That's how it's done in Salinas!"
    A moment later, after Stankowski, his pro partner, tapped in a short putt, Lopez, a Latino, chided the mostly Caucasian crowd for its polite applause. "Hey! Give him more than that, huh?" he scolded them. "He's one of your own!"
    On his way to the next tee, Lopez pointed to the finely-trimmed grass. "No more mowing for me," he said. "I just come out of my house now and say, 'Rake this! Trim over there! Pick that up!'"

    But the Pebble Beach resident saved his best comedy for the 18th green, where an enormous crowd greeted him in a soft-but-steady rain.
    He spied course marshal Norman Bumgarner, a great-grandfather from Pleasanton, standing greenside in a full-length, see-through rain parka, and quickly brought the garment to the attention of the gallery.
    "He's wearing a full-body condom!" Lopez shouted, pulling the hood up to cover Bumgarner's head.
    The crowd roared, then laughed even harder an instant later when a woman seated nearby shouted, "Hey, Norm -- you want my room key?"
    "Oh, boy," Bumgarner blushed later. "If that goes on TV, I'm never going to live it down."

    Finally, the comic was flagged down by a group of rowdies as he signed autographs on his way to the No. 1 tee. One of them offered him a Jell-o shot, which Lopez was delighted to accept.
    After booming his drive, he rode his golf club across the tee box like a stickhorse, then grinned. "I think I'm going to be OK until that Jell-o shot hits me," he said.

    Playing behind Lopez's foursome -- way behind -- was the group that included sitcom stars Ray Romano and Kevin James. They started their round only 10 minutes later, but the crowd at No. 18 (their ninth hole of the day) waited almost 30 minutes from the time that Lopez & Co. putted out and left the green.
    As a result, the usually gregarious Romano and James were quiet, subdued and unfunny as they finished up their front nine in front of the huge gallery. Clearly, they had been warned about their slow play.
    After putting out, Romano paused to sign a quick autograph, then hurried toward the next tee with an apology. "We've gotta get out of here," he told the other people begging for an autograph. "Everybody's mad at us because we're way behind. And they're all blaming me!"

    posted by Herald Gopher at 10:23 PM

    Thursday, February 10, 2005

    Spyglass was the place to be 

    After looking over the tournament tee times, I knew Spyglass was the place to be (even if my arch nemesis, Bill Murray, the clown princee of darkness was going to be there, read more about that episode in Friday's Herald). He's a few of the things I saw and overheard:

    Charles Schwab, multimillionaire investment man, to an autograph-seeking fan while coming off the ninth green: "I'll sign
    anything, even checks."

    George Lopez on the 12th green: After finishing up on the 12th, Lopez walked up the hill behind the green to chat with some fans sitting near the rope. He picked up a Herald sitting on the ground nearby.
    "Anything good in here?" he asked a fan.
    "Nothing really," answered the fan (who obviously didn't see my column).
    "Does it say that Bill Murray hates me?"

    Murray on the 12th: After hitting his tee shot short of the green and into a sand trap on the right, some fans calle to Murray.
    "I'm afraid we sat here just to watch you walk through the sand," one man said. Murray obliged, dancing his way from one end of the trap to the other, where his ball was sitting. Before taking his shot, Murray used his right foot to spell out B-I-L-L. After a second, he smiled and added a Y.
    The theatrics were just beginning for Murray. As playing partner Scott Simpson lined up a 10-foot put, Murray began his barrage. "Hey knucklehead!" he screamed. "Hey knucklehead! Don't miss that putt, knucklehead!"
    After watching Simpson slide his putt past the hole, Murray faced the crowd. "This is what I have to deal with."
    On the 13th, Murray outdrove the entire group, including Simpson by about 30 yards.

    Also on the 13th, ESPN's Chris Berman hit one of his best drives of the day, just left of the fairway. "Who said this was a rebuilding year for you?" Murray asked.

    One of the best celebrity shots of the day came from comedian Ray Romano. On the 16th fairway, Romano pushed his ball right. The ball went down into a large ridge, about 30 yards short of the green. Romano found his ball on the side of the steep ridge, about 10 feet down and buried in heavy rough.
    "I'll try, but it ain't coming out," he said. Instead, Romano sent a high, arcing shot onto the green.
    After missing the 20-foot putt, comedian Kevin James posed the question, "Hey, what was that for?"
    "A six," Romano said. He pounded his chest, drawing laughs from the gallery, and added, "It ain't about the score. It's about heart."

    Billionaire television star Donald Trump was the celebrity attraction in his foursome, but the other amateur in the group, Geoff Yang, turned out to be the crowd-pleaser Thursday morning at Spyglass Hill. Yang, a 7 handicap, smacked a 140-yard 9-iron on the fourth hole, a shot that bounced on the front of the green and rolled into the cup for a
    true eagle.

    Kevin James, star of "King of Queens," offered some words of support as fellow comedian Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond") lined up a four-inch putt on No. 11 at Spyglass. "C'mon, Ray," James said. "Get it close!"

    ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman lined up a 25-foot putt Thursday at Spyglass and declared, "If this goes in, we'll have a story." After rolling the putt three feet beyond the hole, he staggered toward the crowd and said, "I'm exhausted."

    It was a big night Wednesday for the AT&T volunteers, who were treated to performances by comedians Ray Romano (whose bit included outtakes from "Everybody Loves Raymond") and George Lopez, saxophonist Kenny G (who played the theme song from Clint Eastwood's new film, "Million Dollar Baby," written by Eastwood himself), opera star Thomas Hampson, and singers Michael Bolton, Glen Campbell and Huey Lewis, among others. The show was hosted by veteran comedian and emcee Tom Dreesen.

    Friday, the A-list is at Poppy. I'll be watching.

    posted by Herald Gopher at 9:05 PM

    Wednesday, February 09, 2005

    A Wednesday morning to forget 

    Tried to sleep in this morning. I closed down Jack London's, the tavern in Carmel where all the Pebble Beach caddies hang out all week, and, frankly, I partied a little too hard. So, needless to say, I was more than a little bit annoyed when all of those people showed up so darned early, tromping right over my gopher hole, chattering about the 3M Celebrity Challenge, the big charity event.
    Poked my head out and saw George Lopez, Samuel L. Jackson, Carson Daly, Michael Bolton, and, of course, that notorious gopher-hater, Bill Murray, a man who, quite frankly, should be behind bars.

    BOOMER BUST -- New this year was Chris Berman, the ESPN broadcaster. They say the camera adds 10 pounds, but Berman is ... well, bigger than life.
    "Chris is here courtesy of Weight Watchers," said Bob Murphy, the smart-aleck emcee. "For all of you folks who watch ESPN: Do you recognize this guy? I can't believe how good they make him look!"
    Berman's nickname is "Boomer," which fits his golf game. He hits it pretty far, when he hits it.

    ASK YOUR KIDS -- Most of the oldsters in the crowd, they weren't quite sure who the heck Carson Daly is. "You've gotta stay up late," Murphy informed them.
    By the way, the language gets racier after prime time, and Daly dropped the S-bomb after topping his first drive of the day.

    DUELING DISSES -- George Lopez, the comedian — he's got a bit of an identity problem, too.
    When Hunter Finnell, the local sportscaster, mentioned his name to Bill Murray, Murray's deadpan response was, "Who's George Lopez." When Finnell told him that George Lopez was a comedian with a television show, Murray asked, "What's the name of the show?" When Finnell said, "The George Lopez Show," Murray said, "Well, that gives me a 50-50 chance of remembering."
    When Finnell relayed the text of that exchange to Lopez, the comic said, "I thought he should have been nominated (for an Oscar) for Ghostbusters ... then I pretty much lost track of him."

    QUEUE THE BAND -- Lopez showed up wearing the bottom half of a mariachi outfit -- not exactly traditional attire for a golf tournament. "These pants are so tight, I can only wear them for five holes," he explained.

    PRESSURE PUTT -- Chris O'Donnell suddenly backed away from a $5,000 putt on the 17th green, waved an arm at the large gallery and said, "Would all of you people please turn around and stop looking at me? You're making me extremely nervous!" Then, he drained the putt.

    CROWD CONTROL -- O'Donnell's playing partner Wednesday in the best-ball format was Murray, who made sure he got his due. "C'mon, it's The Boy Wonder, dammit," Murray shouted. "Let's hear it for him!"

    CROWD CONTROL II -- Murray, too, seemed to have his own press agent. "All you people up there in the seats: It's been a couple of years since Bill Murray has played here," shouted Murphy, the emcee. "And he has, in all humility, requested that you give him a standing ovation." The crowd obliged.

    HUEY AND THE NEWS -- The shot of the day came compliments of Huey Lewis, the rock star, who whacked a wedge shot directly into the hole -- no bounce -- for a birdie on No. 3.
    Honorable mention went to Murray, who won a chip-off, worth $15,000, on No. 18, by rolling his shot within 22 inches of the cup. Despite the fact that several other players still had a chance to beat him, Murray triumphantly strutted off, waving at the crowd and pointing toward the leaderboard as he went. He won the contest, but wasn't around to collect the check, which he plans to donate to the Salinas libraries.

    posted by Herald Gopher at 8:45 PM

    Tuesday, what a day 

    There I was, your friendly neighboorhood Gopher, at Stillwater Cove, munching a hot dog (low-carb for the gopher) when I hear this big roar of laughter coming from the 17th tee at Pebble .... so I tunnelled on over there to see George Lopez and Sam Jackson yuking it up on their practice round.

    There was George, posing for a photo with the North Monterey County High golf team (a fine looking crew). Unfortunately, the camera's battery was running low and it didn't look like they would be able to snap the shot. But Lopez came up with the solution, "Just turn it off and back on again." Yes, it worked! Then he turned to Sam Jackson, winked and said, "It's an old Chicano trick."

    George, save your best stuff for Wednesday, when you take on Ray Romano and the Clown Prince of Darkness, Bill Murray in the Comedy Cagematch that is the Celebrity Challenge.

    Speaking of Murray, I spied him at Pebble as well. He was hiking up one of those molehills when a woman asked for his autograph, "while I'm walking up a hill? You want to get somebody hurt!" he exclaimed. He sighed heavily when he reached the tee box, "that's more like it, got my equiliberium back, blood pressure back to normal, yes."

    Alert Mr. Lopez and Romano, that is a weakness, hit him with that zinger while he's walking up the hill, when he's vulnerable.
    (P.S. the new catch phrase for Murray when he drives it straight and true, "GOLF SHOT!" Buy Billy a cup of coffee and I'm sure he'll tell you the long, complicated story).

    The pairings came out on Tuesday. Boy, you can really tell who's on the A-list for celebrities around here. Murray, Costner, and even Kenny G are lined up for the parade that is the third round at Pebble Beach on Saturday. Meanwhile, Chris O'donnell and Huey Lewis are dispatched to Spyglass on Saturday, along with Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith. Glen Cambell, who used to play the A-circuit, along with William Devane and Lynn Swann are in the peace and quiet of Poppy Hills on Saturday.

    Of course, you'll find The Gopher at Pebble on Saturday. He always plays the big room in prime time. (p.s. my next column will appear in Thursday's Herald, and boy, is it a doozer).

    posted by Herald Gopher at 1:32 AM

    Monday, February 07, 2005

    Murray spotted 

    You've no doubt read my column this morning (Tuesday) in the Herald.

    According to my spies, Bill Murray the Clown Prince of Darkness was at Monterey Peninsula Country Club exerting his evil influence over the youth of Monterey County. The lame jokes he makes about our kind I can take, but I fear he is creating another generation of gopher haters, youngsters who don't appreciate someone who will aerate their lawn at little or no expense.

    As I sit in my hole, listening to the drip, drip, drop of rain soften the earth, which I will soon bore through, I prepare to write my next column, which the boss says is slated for Thursday. It will be my best yet, I predict. And you can expect more reporting here in my blog as more players hit the courses.


    posted by Herald Gopher at 11:47 PM

    Saturday, February 05, 2005

    Embittered gopher will cover AT&T for the Herald 

    Gopher's Log
    Tales From The Underground

    Well, Bill Murray's coming back to the AT&T. That's terrific news, I guess, for you celebrity-watchers. But anybody who saw the historical documentary, "Caddyshack," knows that we gophers have had some serious issues with the guy.

    That's right, I said "historical documentary." The producers tried to pass it all off as fiction -- better for the Oscar buzz, they figured -- —but most of the scenes you see in the movie really happened. Murray was a real-life gopher hater, hired by a sadistic casting director to portray maniacal assistant greenskeeper Carl Spackler.

    The dirty little secret about "Caddyshack" is that much of what you're seeing is actual footage -- real-life action of the off-the-set battles my brother in gopherhood had with the insufferable Murray between takes at Bushwood Country Club.

    First, he tried to drown the gopher. Then, he tried to shoot the gopher. Finally, he tried to blow the gopher up. Harold Ramis, the director, just kept the cameras rolling, even though none of it was scripted. And he really seemed to be enjoying himself. Meanwhile, Dangerfield, Chevy Chase, Ted Knight . . . they sat there, swilling Colt .45 malt liquor, laughing their heads off the whole time.

    So, now you know.

    We, the brotherhood of gophers, filed a grievance with the Screen Actor's Guild, complained to the district attorney (who declined to press charges -- even contacted PETA, which, for some reason, dispatched a bunch of women in faux gopher-skin bikinis to stage a demonstration on the 18th green. They were arrested, which made the local paper, but that's about as far as it all went.

    After all else failed, we sued Murray, who wisely settled out of court. I'm not at liberty to discuss the terms.

    A few months after the filming of "Caddyshack" was wrapped up, many of us packed up and moved away from Bushwood forever. I can't even visit the place -- the scars are too deep. I took the insurance dough from the fire and flood damage, and the cash from the settlement, and relocated to Pebble Beach, where I felt sure I'd found paradise. Comfortable weather, crashing waves, breathtaking scenery . . . what more could a gopher want?

    There were things the real-estate company failed to mention, though.

    One was that 135,000 people would tromp on my roof for a whole week every year, when the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Golf Tournament comes to town. Any clue what that sounds like? Ever rent an apartment underneath a troupe of big, fat, Irish stepdancers?

    And I shouldn't have to tell you about the indescribable things that happen to my lawn, which not only gets flattened by the fans, but also is relentlessly flogged for seven days by wedge-wielding hackers like Donald Trump, Samuel L. Jackson and The Guy From "Dharma and Greg."

    Some of my run-ins with celebrities have been downright terrifying. Mikhail Baryshnikov tried to kick me three years ago at Poppy Hills when I poked my head out of the ground at the top of his backswing. Joe Pecsi jabbed me with an umbrella at Spyglass for walking across his line.

    I mention all of the above as a means of journalistic disclosure, because the Monterey County Herald has asked me to join its staff this week and cover the AT&T -- from a gopher's perspective -- and, frankly, I expect to be in a very surly mood.

    I'll be keeping an eye on that nutball Murray and all of his snarky Hollywood friends -- not to mention the PGA Tour pros, the volunteers, the fans, the media, the CEOs and, of course, all those nasty greenskeepers who, quite frankly, would love to see me move to Needles.

    So watch this space for the real story -- the underground story of the AT&T.

    posted by Herald Gopher at 8:38 PM




    Gopher
    Gopher is a writer for the Monterey County Herald. He can be reached at sports@montereyherald.com

     Latest posts
       •  A Wednesday morning to forget
       •  I am done
       •  Put on your helmets
       •  Spyglass was the place to be
       •  A Wednesday morning to forget
       •  Tuesday, what a day
       •  Murray spotted
       •  Embittered gopher will cover AT&T for the Herald



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       •  February 2005

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