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For over half a century, top PGA TOUR professionals have returned to Pebble Beach time and again for the granddaddy of all Pro-Ams. The Crosby—now known as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am—has always been enjoyed as much for its quirky lore as for the extraordinary play it inspires. For every golfer who finds unexpected magic, another meets unexpected obstacles.
Here is a brief look at some of the stories that have made this one of golf’s most beloved events.
Roger Kelly (a top amateur who likes to party) is paired with Sam Snead, and on the first tee he gets sick in the nearby bushes. Snead demands, but is denied, a new partner. The Snead-Kelly team wins the Pro-Am—and then goes on to pair up for many years to come.
Phil Harris, a longtime bandleader and Crosby crony, curls in a 90-foot putt on 17 to capture the Pro-Am title with partner Dutch Harrison. Says the hard-partying Harris, “Ain’t this a heckuva blow to clean living?”
Ben Hogan spends his last Crosby paired with the host. The weather for Sunday’s finale is dismal, so Crosby invites Hogan to end the round at his house on 13. The Hawk declines, completing the round with an 81.
“Champagne” Tony Lema tumbles off the cliff on 9 and falls 18 feet to the sand below, acquiring several bruises and contusions. He is believed to be the first falling star ever recovered on a California beach.
John Brodie hits his first shot on 7 into the water. He reloads and holes it for par and an unofficial hole-in-one. Six years later, Eddie Merrins will ace the same hole in the Crosby with a 3-iron.
After years of terrible weather, Bing Crosby seeks spiritual assistance by inviting two priests to play in the tournament. The weather is sublime the entire week. “From now on,” Crosby declares, “they are regular entrants.”
Leading Nicklaus by one in final round, Johnny Miller hits a classic shank on his second shot on 16, forcing a playoff. Nicklaus wins on the first extra hole. Miller will go on to find his own magic at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, becoming the only golfer ever to win the event in three different decades.
Hale Irwin is trailing by one on 18 when his tee shot sails off toward the ocean. Incredibly, it hits some rocks and bounces back onto the fairway; he makes birdie and forces a sudden-death play-off with Jim Nelford. Both golfers par the 15th, the starting hole. Then Irwin laces a 2-iron from the fairway bunker on the 16 to within 9 feet of the cup. He sinks the birdie for the win.