AT&T Pebble Beach: Andrew Loupe Leads by Two

Andrew Loupe came out of anonymity Thursday to take a two-shot lead at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Winning his PGA Tour card for the first time this year via the Web.com  Tour, Loupe managed to get around the Monterey Peninsula Country Club in 8-under 63. Having missed all five cuts of his 2013-14 season, this was a refreshing change for him:

Had fun out there today.  It was a good time.  I thought I struck the ball well.  I thought I kept it in front of me for the most part. One fairway that I think, that I can remember missing.  I think I hit every green.

Kept it in play.  Stayed patient.  Got a little lucky with the weather [rain and wind].  And made a few putts, but really didn’t make it too hard on myself.  I would have liked to have had that 4‑footer on the last, but I put a good roll on it and you’re just not going to make all of them.

One of the things that has kept him in the game through his first five efforts has been his ability to take the long view with the help of his team: 

Obviously, a rough start to the year.  Couple of them being in the fall.  But, I really just stick to the plan and I know that my group is good.  I have a hundred percent trust in my swing coach, my family, my trainer.  Chuck Winstead is my swing coach, he’s as good as it gets, out of LSU.  And Kolby Tullier working with him as trainer, my parents, just really sticking to the plan.

I guess when you’re in those ruts, you just — what, I just keep telling myself, you’re supposed to be here, you’re going to play good, just keep playing.  And this is just one round, guys, you know, but I feel good.

And this is cute. He had never been to Monterey before, so he had no knowledge of any of the courses. But his caddie had played Tiger Woods 2003 “a ton:”

Q.  Had you ever been to Monterey Peninsula before this week?

No, this is the first time.  This place is amazing.  I didn’t know there was this many golf courses.  I think my caddie, he’s played a ton of rounds out here on Tiger Woods 2003, but that’s about it.

Q.  Your caddie has, not you?

No, well, I think I played Pebble a couple times on it, but I’m not huge into video games, but he had it covered.  He’s played all of them plenty of times.

Q.  That’s where your local knowledge came from?

Exactly.

The conversation turned to the biggest adjustments he’s had to make since arriving on the PGA Tour:

So far probably there’s a little bit more to the golf courses.  But that’s not it.

I think it’s settling in.  You’re not putting next to the guys you’ve been putting next to [on the Web.com Tour].  You’re not hitting balls next to the guys you’ve been hitting balls next to.  I’m looking at guys I’ve been watching on TV, you know?

And it’s just realizing that I’m supposed to be here and this is — I’m here for a reason and I think I was a little nervy the last couple weeks and I thought I did a lot better job of that today.

Loupe leads four players on Monterey Peninsula who shot 6-under:

  • 42-year-old Stuart Appleby, 9-time winner and one of just six PGA Tour players to shoot a 59;
  • Jim Renner, another possible Cinderella story who won his card in 2011 and then spent two years on the Web.com Tour trying to earn it back.
  • Scott Gardiner, a 37-year-old Aussie who’s been beating his brains out on the European Tour since 2000 and the Web.com Tour since 2005 finally winning his card for 2013.
  • Richard H. Lee, beginning his 3rd year on the PGA Tour out of the University of Washington and finishing a comfortable 96th in FedExCup points.

The leader over at Pebble Beach, also at 6-under, is Jimmy Walker who’s won twice this year so far. He didn’t make a bogey on the day.

One back of Walker at Pebble are: Robert Streb, Brian Davis, Paul McGinley and Tim Wilkinson.

The leaders at Spyglass Hill, the hardest course of the rota, are Jordan Spieth and Rory Sabbatini at 5-under. Given how the day started, Spieth was relieved:

Yeah, very, very happy.  When we were warming up on the range today and it was pouring rain, I was saying even par is a heck of a score, so, yeah, to end up coming back out [after the almost 3-hour rain delay] and having great conditions, we really got fortunate and took advantage of it out here.

Very happy to go to Monterey tomorrow, as one of the first times, get some good greens out there and get off to a good start.

And as so often happens with unexpectedly good rounds, he got there by being patient:

Yeah, I was just really patient.  We picked a great day to have Spyglass.  With no wind, right after the rain, so it was soft.  Hardest part was controlling your spin they were so soft.

But, greens putted well and towards the end of the round I was able to drop some par saves and then eventually birdie the last.

The rain delay ran 40 of the 156 players into darkness at 5:33 and they will be back in position at 7:45 AM Friday to finish their rounds. The second round will begin at 9:00 AM, an hour later than the original schedule.

The logistics of getting those 40 players (and their amateurs) in position, through the rest of their rounds and shuttled over to Friday’s courses in time for their second round tee times will be quite a task. And it wouldn’t be surprising if that plays on some players’ minds.

I’m sure the Tour will make it work relatively seamlessly — they wouldn’t put them in an impossible position — but one of the worst sins in golf is being late for your tee time.

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