PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Former Conway golfer Bryce Molder stands in a strong challenging position going into today’s final round of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
With a 4-under round of 68 Saturday at Spyglass Hill, Molder stands at -14, four strokes back of co-leaders Paul Goydos and Dustin Johnson.
During the first three days of the tournament, the golfers and their amateur partners alternately played the three courses used for the tourney, Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula. The field has been cut to 60 pros for today’s final round at Pebble Beach.
While Johnson is powering his away around the Monterey Peninsula. Paul Goydos is poking along. Two golfers who couldn’t be any more different were tied for the lead Saturday.
Johnson reached the 595-yard opening hole at Spyglass Hill with a hybrid and made a 20-foot eagle from the fringe to send him on his way to an 8-under 64, despite a three-putt bogey on his final hole.
Goydos reached the 513-yard second hole with a 3-wood and made an 8-foot eagle putt, then birdied two of the final three holes for a 64 at Pebble Beach.
They were at 18-under 196 and were four shots clear of anyone else.
Johnson is leading the field this week in driving distance at 310.7 yards. Goydos, who is averaging 262.7 yards off the tee, was asked if he would just ignore Johnson’s power off the tee.
"No, I fully panic," Goydos said. "You know, it is what it is. I don’t know if ’ignore’ is the right word, but you appreciate. I’m going to appreciate his play, but you go out and play your game, too. I have do things differently than he does, and he’s got to do things differently than I do."
J.B. Holmes and Molder each had a 68 at Spyglass Hill, while Matt Jones had a 66 on the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula. They were tied for third at 14-under 200.
David Duval had a 67 and was tied for seventh. Phil Mickelson had a 69 at Pebble Beach and was eight shots out of the lead.
The biggest star Saturday was the weather, some of the most spectacular conditions this tournament has seen in years. Along the coast of Pebble Beach, huge swells crashed against the rocks and the sea wall.
"The ocean was angry today," Goydos said. "What they’ve got here is God’s gift to golf."
Goydos’ game isn’t always so pretty, although there is no disputing how he reached the top of the leaderboard. On the par-5 sixth hole, his second shot from the rough barely cleared the hill and nearly went into a bunker. With an awkward stance, he did well to get it on the green. And after a two-putt par, he said to his partners, "That never looked like it was going to be better than a 5."
One hole later, with a stiff ocean breeze at his back and a downhill shot to a green 97 yards away, he hit sand wedge to 2 feet.
Over at Spyglass, traditionally the toughest course on the rotation, Johnson was wailing away. The defending champion had two eagles and played the par 5s in 6 under, and he had a chance at the course record of 62 until charging his birdie putt past the hole and missing the comeback putt for par.
"Length is not an issue," Johnson said. "Doesn’t play very long for me. If I’m hitting it in the fairway, then it definitely plays right into my hands, because I can get to all the par 5s there."
Asked which courses plays long for him, Johnson said with a fixed smile, "Not too many of ’em."
On this glorious day with a stiff breeze, Spyglass was the place to be. Pebble Beach and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula, a par 70 and newcomer to the rotation, are exposed along the ocean. Except for five holes, Spyglass is sheltered by pines and cypress.
Johnson and Goydos couldn’t recall playing with each other before, and even if they did, it’s not like they would have been together given the difference in their tee shots.
But as much as Goydos appreciates the power, Johnson appreciates how Goydos can score.
"His game is definitely a little bit different than mind, and he finds a way to get it done," Johnson said. "It doesn’t matter how far you hit it or where you hit it. You’ve just got to find a way to get it in the hole. Whoever can get it in the hole tomorrow is going to come out with the victory."
Few players are more self-deprecating than Goydos, notable among other quotes for once saying, "Tiger is trying to win 18 majors. I’m trying to play in 18 majors."
But he did well to hold his own when asked if Johnson was a better player as they head into the final round.
"He’s won twice in two years. I’ve won twice in 18," Goydos said. "’Better’ is an interesting word. He’s definitely off to a much better start than I had. There’s a slight curve because I’ve been out so long. So if he’d won 10 times after 18 years, the answer is ’yes.’ But right now? I don’t know."
Then he paused before adding, "He’s definitely showing signs of it."