merino points ied at pebble

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D.A. Points knew it was going to be a great week at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am when he found out Bill Murray was his amateur partner.

It got even better on Thursday.

Points found Murray's antics to be more amusing than annoying, and it showed in his play. With eight birdies on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, he opened with a 7-under 63 and shared the lead with Steve Marino.

Some might think he shot a 63 despite having Murray in his ear all day. Points says he shot 63 because of him.

"I know people talk about his antics, or he's a showman while he's out there, making lots of comments and talking while people are getting ready to hit shots," Points said. "To be honest, it really loosens me up and makes me between shots not be grinding so hard on what I'm doing. It helps me take a little bit of a breather between shots and joke around with him."

There was plenty to enjoy for most everyone on a glorious day on the peninsula, with only a mild breeze to accompany views that were as spectacular as ever. Beyond the weather, the conditions on three courses were as good as they have ever been. The fairways were particularly firm on the Shore Course, and the greens were fast everywhere.

The rounds took six hours, as usual, but some of that was because of the speed of the greens.

Marino had a most unusual 7-under 65 at Spyglass Hill in that he failed to birdie any of the par 5s. He still managed seven birdies, including a big drive and a wedge to inside a foot on his final hole. The green is elevated, and Marino only knew it was good when a woman began shrieking after it checked up close to the pin.

"I think your mother likes it," Mark Long, the caddie for amateur Dermot Desmond, called back to Marino.

Even more pleasing to Marino was the 9-iron he hit on the previous hole, the par-4 eighth, that took one hop and hit the pin before settling about 8 feet away. A year ago on Spyglass, he holed out with an 8-iron.

The best shot of the day belonged to Alex Cejka, who was one shot behind after a 64 on the Shore Course. He started his day by holing out a 3-wood from the fairway on the par-5 10th. The PGA Tour checked its records as far back as 1982 and could not find another player who had started a round with an albatross.

"I think it was the best start I've ever had," Cejka said in somewhat of an understatement.

It was a chilly start to the day, and he figured he would need a little extra club from 240 yards away, so he choked down on a 3-wood.

"It carried just short of the green and bounced up and took a break toward the hole," Cejka said. "There were like three or four marshals up there and they started screaming, and suddenly it was in the hole. It's the first one for me."