Kenny McDowell is 62, nurses a bum knee and carries a 12-handicap. So he wasn’t especially distressed after what he considered a respectable missed putt during a December outing with his tour pro son, Graeme.
“You’ll have to sharpen that up,” Graeme told his dad, “because you’re playing with me in the AT&T.”
Nearly two months later, the McDowells traipsed together around Pebble Beach during a practice round Tuesday, the latest stop in their whirlwind, exclusive tour of Northern California. They played San Francisco Golf Club on Saturday, Monterey Peninsula on Sunday and Cypress Point on Monday, with Spyglass Hill on tap Wednesday.
Put another way: Graeme McDowell is making the most of his return to Pebble.
McDowell, 34, is back for the first time since he won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in June 2010. The memories came flooding back as he played the course alongside his dad – mostly of a rugged final round in which McDowell emerged victorious after Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els all faltered.
Two years later, McDowell nearly conquered another Open in Northern California. He played alongside Jim Furyk in the final Sunday pairing at the Olympic Club in 2012, only to shoot 73 and tie for second, one shot behind winner Webb Simpson.
Somewhere along the way, clearly, the good-natured gentleman from Northern Ireland became fully acclimated to Northern California golf.
1of2Kenny and Graeme McDowell, father and son share a laugh after they finished up on the 18th green, during a practice round on Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014, before the start of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif.Michael Macor/The ChronicleShow MoreShow Less2of2Graeme McDowell hits a sand shot on the par-3 12th hole at Pebble Beach during practice rounds on Tuesday Feb. 4, 2014, before the start of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am golf tournament in Pebble Beach, Calif.Michael Macor/The ChronicleShow MoreShow Less
“I think it’s the ocean air,” McDowell said as he strolled down the No. 16 fairway at Pebble. “The air is heavy and really has a huge effect. I grew up playing golf beside the ocean and I’m at home beside the ocean. I think that’s why this part of the world has been very kind to me.”
Even so, McDowell usually doesn’t play much on the PGA Tour’s West Coast swing. He either takes an extended break in January and early February, or he plays European Tour events in the Middle East.
Last year, McDowell made his tour debut in the Northern Trust Open and missed the cut. Riviera struck him as a tricky and demanding way to begin his season, so he chose to launch 2014 in the more social setting of the AT&T. This marks his first appearance since ’06.
He called it a “bucket list” opportunity to play in the tournament with his dad. They made the trip more memorable by adding those stops the past few days, with San Francisco Club as an especially cool experience.
“There’s nothing quite like that unique look of San Francisco golf, with the cypress trees and the rolling terrain,” McDowell said.
He refused to bemoan his missed chance at Olympic, where uneven play around the greens prevented him from pushing Simpson into a playoff (or winning outright). McDowell rebounded to win three times in 2013, twice on the European Tour and once more at the PGA Tour event in Hilton Head, S.C.
Still, it’s hard to top what happened at Pebble Beach on Father’s Day 2010 – winning the U.S. Open and wrapping his dad in a warm hug on the 18th green. McDowell described it as a “poignant moment” when they walked together down No. 18 on Tuesday.
He also hesitated to glorify his Open victory too much.
“I want to win more majors,” he said. “So I don’t want to put the U.S. Open at Pebble on a pedestal as the greatest moment of my golfing life. It’s the greatest moment of my career to date.”
His objectives are more modest this week. He mostly wants to shake the rust off his game and enjoy time with his dad, and Kenny McDowell mostly wants to have a beer with Clint Eastwood.
They’re both grateful the weather seems better than what Kenny McDowell routinely encounters with his buddies back home in Portrush, Northern Ireland.
“Quite often, we roll over to the club and it’s too cold, too wet or too windy,” he said. “We end up having a beer and saying, ‘See you tomorrow.’ “
AT&T National Pro-Am pairings, first three rounds
PB: Pebble Beach; SH: Spyglass Hill; MP: Monterey Peninsula
* – Denotes 10th tee
|Jerry Kelly and Aaron Rodgers (7)||Rory Sabbatini and Blake Mycoskie (11)||SH 9:39||MP 8:55 *||PB 8:00|
|Michael Thompson and Brian Kelly (12)||Patrick Reed and Jimmy Dunne III (4)||SH 9:50||MP 9:06 *||PB 8:11|
|Davis Love III and Kelly Slater (3)||Nick Watney and Doug Mackenzie (2)||SH 10:01||MP 9:17 *||PB 8:22|
|Blake Adams and Lucas Black (0)||Brendon Todd and Alex Smith (9)||SH 10:12||MP 9:28 *||PB 8:33|
|Graeme McDowell and Kenny McDowell (12)||Jason Bohn and Chris O’Donnell (8)||SH 8:00||MP 9:39 *||PB 8:44|
|Dustin Johnson and Wayne Gretzky (11)||John Daly and Kid Rock (16)||SH 8:11||MP 9:50 *||PB 8:55|
|Ricky Barnes and Tom Brady (8)||James Driscoll and Bill Belichick (14)||SH 8:22||MP 10:01 *||PB 9:06|
|Will Claxton and Ray Romano (17)||Andrew Svoboda and T-Bone Burnett (5)||SH 8:33||MP 10:12 *||PB 9:17|
|Trevor Immelman and Don Cheadle (13)||Brendan Steele and Andy Garcia (9)||SH 8:44||MP 8:00 *||PB 9:28|
|Kyle Stanley and Oliver Hudson (3)||Tommy Gainey and Kurt Russell (13)||SH 8:55||MP 8:11 *||PB 9:39|
|Brandt Snedeker and Toby S. Wilt (6)||Brian Gay and Peter Ueberroth (16)||SH 9:06||MP 8:22 *||PB 9:50|
|Jordan Spieth and Jake Owen (4)||Kevin Chappell and Joe Don Rooney (5)||SH 9:17||MP 8:33 *||PB 10:01|
|John Peterson and Robert Patton (18)||Brad Fritsch and Gary Mule Deer (18)||SH 9:28||MP 8:44 *||PB 10:12|
|Alex Cejka and Willy Strothotte (13)||Charlie Wi and Frank Quattrone (10)||SH 9:39 *||MP 8:55||PB 8:00 *|
|Charlie Beljan and Charles E. Johnson (18)||Paul Goydos and Robert Stuart (13)||SH 9:50 *||MP 9:06||PB 8:11 *|
|Jason Kokrak and Stephen Mack (8)||William McGirt and Jarrett Posner (10)||SH 10:01 *||MP 9:17||PB 8:22 *|
|Justin Thomas and Thomas Campbell (8)||Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Reuben Richards Jr. (13)||SH 10:12 *||MP 9:28||PB 8:33 *|
|Kris Blanks and Bill Walters (6)||Tag Ridings and Greg Jamison (13)||SH 8:00 *||MP 9:39||PB 8:44 *|
|Matt Bettencourt and Matt Cain (6)||Jim Furyk and Darius Rucker (9)||SH 8:11 *||MP 9:50||PB 8:55 *|
|Mark Wilson and Jay L. Henderson (4)||Andres Romero and Richard Smucker (11)||SH 8:22 *||MP 10:01||PB 9:06 *|
|Kevin Kisner and David MacFarlane (12)||Michael Putnam and Larry Baer (16)||SH 8:33 *||MP 10:12||PB 9:17 *|
|Ryan Palmer and Fin Ewing (9)||Chad Campbell and Hob Reichenbach (8)||SH 8:44 *||MP 8:00||PB 9:28 *|
|Geoff Ogilvy and Gregg Tryhus (4)||Russell Henley and Rob Light (9)||SH 8:55 *||MP 8:11||PB 9:39 *|
|John Mallinger and Andy Roddick (6)||Chris Kirk and James Blake (9)||SH 9:06 *||MP 8:22||PB 9:50 *|
|Roberto Castro and Edward Herlihy (9)||Nicholas Thompson and Stuart Francis (3)||SH 9:17 *||MP 8:33||PB 10:01 *|
|Chris Williams and Skip McGee (14)||Chesson Hadley and Joe Lacob (11)||SH 9:28 *||MP 8:44||PB 10:12 *|
|Richard H. Lee and John Maxwell (15)||Matt Every and Patrick Hamill (11)||MP 9:39||PB 8:55 *||SH 8:00|
|Brian Harman and Gregg Ontiveros (16)||Bryce Molder and Harry L. You (15)||MP 9:50||PB 9:06 *||SH 8:11|
|Lee Janzen and James Blanchard (8)||Dicky Pride and Ryan Lance (7)||MP 10:01||PB 9:17 *||SH 8:22|
|Mark Anderson and Toby Luttropp (3)||Chad Collins and Michael Jones (8)||MP 10:12||PB 9:28 *||SH 8:33|
|Martin Flores and Barry Sternlicht (11)||Seung-Yul Noh and Ken Schnitzer (15)||MP 8:00||PB 9:39 *||SH 8:44|
|John Huh and Ed Vaughan (9)||Ted Potter Jr. and Henrik Slipsager (18)||MP 8:11||PB 9:50 *||SH 8:55|
|Freddie Jacobson and Mark Rachesky (10)||Joe Ogilvie and Bill Rhodes (10)||MP 8:22||PB 10:01 *||SH 9:06|
|Justin Bolli and John Ballbach (8)||Kevin Tway and Gary Hendrickson (4)||MP 8:33||PB 10:12 *||SH 9:17|
|Pat Perez and Michael Lund (9)||Robert Garrigus and Hank Plain (10)||MP 8:44||PB 8:00 *||SH 9:28|
|Andrew Loupe and Bill Rodrigues (8)||Doug LaBelle II and Joseph Mayernik (18)||MP 8:55||PB 8:11 *||SH 9:39|
|John Senden and Nikesh Arora (11)||Charley Hoffman and Heidi Ueberroth (14)||MP 9:06||PB 8:22 *||SH 9:50|
|Jim Renner and John Harkey Jr. (9)||Kevin Foley and David Simon (5)||MP 9:17||PB 8:33 *||SH 10:01|
|Scott Gardiner and Marc Lautenbach (5)||Fabian Gomez and Jeff Henley (15)||MP 9:28||PB 8:44 *||SH 10:12|
|Kevin Stadler and Jeb Bush (14)||Steven Bowditch and Lee Styslinger III (10)||MP 9:39 *||PB 8:55||SH 8:00 *|
|D.A. Points and Condoleezza Rice (18)||Phil Mickelson and Rex Tillerson (18)||MP 9:50 *||PB 9:06||SH 8:11 *|
|Scott Langley and Peyton Manning (7)||Greg Owen and Harris Barton (9)||MP 10:01 *||PB 9:17||SH 8:22 *|
|Jamie Lovemark and Rich Petit (1)||Wes Roach and Peter Castleman (7)||MP 10:12 *||PB 9:28||SH 8:33 *|
|Troy Matteson and Herman Edwards (18)||J. J. Henry and Chris Berman (18)||MP 8:00 *||PB 9:39||SH 8:44 *|
|Stuart Appleby and Charles Schwab (9)||Mike Weir and George Roberts (6)||MP 8:11 *||PB 9:50||SH 8:55 *|
|Jason Day and Jim Lentz (3)||Daniel Chopra and Richard Ferris (8)||MP 8:22 *||PB 10:01||SH 9:06 *|
|Miguel Angel Carballo and Brian Swette (7)||Victor Dubuisson and Pascal Grizot (2)||MP 8:33 *||PB 10:12||SH 9:17 *|
|Daniel Summerhays and John Walecka (7)||Matt Jones and Eric Close (14)||MP 8:44 *||PB 8:00||SH 9:28 *|
|Aaron Baddeley and Kenny G (2)||Lucas Glover and Tom Dreesen (8)||MP 8:55 *||PB 8:11||SH 9:39 *|
|Scott Brown and Tom Ryan (9)||George McNeill and Jerry Yang (9)||MP 9:06 *||PB 8:22||SH 9:50 *|
|Jeff Maggert and Clay Walker (9)||Will MacKenzie and Marvin Odum (18)||MP 9:17 *||PB 8:33||SH 10:01 *|
|Danny Lee and Craig Johnson (2)||Jim Herman and Bret Baier (6)||MP 9:28 *||PB 8:44||SH 10:12 *|
|Cameron Tringale and David Dorman (8)||Woody Austin and David Holl (7)||PB 9:39||SH 8:55 *||MP 8:00|
|Paul McGinley and Mark King (1)||K. J. Choi and Steve Maritz (7)||PB 9:50||SH 9:06 *||MP 8:11|
|Sean O’Hair and Greg Johnson (10)||Scott McCarron and Geoff Yang (6)||PB 10:01||SH 9:17 *||MP 8:22|
|Tim Wilkinson and Jim Hawkins (12)||David Carr and Brian D. Morse (6)||PB 10:12||SH 9:28 *||MP 8:33|
|James Hahn and Joseph Kernen (13)||Greg Chalmers and Michael McCallister (7)||PB 8:00||SH 9:39 *||MP 8:44|
|David Duval and T. Michael Glenn (7)||Retief Goosen and John Watson (2)||PB 8:11||SH 9:50 *||MP 8:55|
|Hunter Mahan and Tom Dundon (6)||Bo Van Pelt and Doug John (2)||PB 8:22||SH 10:01 *||MP 9:06|
|Bronson La Cassie and Paul Hazen (13)||Robert Streb and Frank C. Herringer (10)||PB 8:33||SH 10:12 *||MP 9:17|
|Josh Teater and Irving Azoff (18)||Russell Knox and Geoff Couch (2)||PB 8:44||SH 8:00 *||MP 9:28|
|Jimmy Walker and Jim Crane (2)||Ken Duke and Bill Scannell (8)||PB 8:55||SH 8:11 *||MP 9:39|
|Padraig Harrington and J. P. McManus (13)||Rafael Cabrera-Bello and Dermot Desmond (12)||PB 9:06||SH 8:22 *||MP 9:50|
|Heath Slocum and Gerry McManus (15)||J. B. Holmes and David Gill (3)||PB 9:17||SH 8:33 *||MP 10:01|
|Bud Cauley and Peter Foss (9)||Max Homa and Jay Ireland (12)||PB 9:28||SH 8:44 *||MP 10:12|
|Justin Hicks and Carl Lindner III (15)||Brian Davis and Mark Turner (12)||PB 9:39 *||SH 8:55||MP 8:00 *|
|Ben Kohles and Brian Ferris (2)||Lee Williams and Brian Gladden (4)||PB 9:50 *||SH 9:06||MP 8:11 *|
|Bobby Gates and Tom Falk (17)||Troy Merritt and Richard Fisher (16)||PB 10:01 *||SH 9:17||MP 8:22 *|
|Will Wilcox and Greg Buonocore (18)||Rod Perry and Jackson Hsieh (13)||PB 10:12 *||SH 9:28||MP 8:33 *|
|Spencer Levin and George Walker (11)||Briny Baird and Keith Williams (14)||PB 8:00 *||SH 9:39||MP 8:44 *|
|Kevin Na and Scott McNealy (6)||Vijay Singh and Shantanu Narayen (10)||PB 8:11 *||SH 9:50||MP 8:55 *|
|Steven Fox and Roger Helms (18)||Edward Loar and Michael Cochrane (11)||PB 8:22 *||SH 10:01||MP 9:06 *|
|Ben Martin and George Klaus (12)||Brice Garnett and James Hinton (10)||PB 8:33 *||SH 10:12||MP 9:17 *|
|Dudley Hart and Jeremy Jacobs (16)||Joe Durant and James Farrell (6)||PB 8:44 *||SH 8:00||MP 9:28 *|
|Sang-Moon Bae and David Kohler (18)||Rod Pampling and Stephen Smith (13)||PB 8:55 *||SH 8:11||MP 9:39 *|
|D. H. Lee and L. David Dube (9)||Tyrone Van Aswegen and Gene Edwards (16)||PB 9:06 *||SH 8:22||MP 9:50 *|
|Alex Prugh and Scott Anderson (4)||Hudson Swafford and Jay Davisson (14)||PB 9:17 *||SH 8:33||MP 10:01 *|
|Peter Malnati and Gordon Nixon (10)||Alex Aragon and Dick McCloskey (8)||PB 9:28 *||SH 8:44||MP 10:12 *|