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Peter Jacobsen has criticised players who turned their backs on last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in favour of the guaranteed money of the Asian Tour’s Saudi International. High-profile names including Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson were among around 20 PGA Tour pros who opted for Jeddah over California last week, and Jacobsen, whose appearance at last week’s PGA Tour event was his last before retiring from the professional game, was dismayed. “This is the most important tournament on the PGA Tour and I think some of the players are a bit short-sighted when they don’t understand that,” he explained.
While Jacobsen’s claim of Pebble Beach’s lofty status on the Tour might raise some eyebrows, it’s perhaps understandable the 67-year-old holds it in such high regard given his long association with the event - Jacobsen made his first Pebble Beach appearance way back in 1977. Not only that, but the seven-time Tour winner thinks that the nature of a tournament that combines professional talent with figures from the entertainment world brings broader financial benefits to the PGA Tour thanks to its ability to attract executives with deep pockets.
“What better place than Pebble Beach to spend time with and thank these corporations for sponsoring this Tour and giving all these players the opportunity to seek fortune and fame,” he said. “I understand getting appearance fee money. I’ve done that myself. But I think this is the one tournament that is extremely important to the success of the PGA Tour and it’s disheartening for me to see so many miss this tournament, so many of the stars, because I think the best players on the PGA Tour should be here and playing with the top people in business, the top people in entertainment and sports.”
Jacobsen, who devotes much of his time to his career as a golf analyst on NBC Sports, has had a long love affair with the Pebble Beach Pro-Am over a career spanning six decades. His partners included actor Jack Lemmon and singer Huey Lewis, and it was the latter who tempted him to turn out for a final time last week. Jacobsen said: “Huey called and said, ‘Want to go one more time?’ And I said, ‘For you, I will.’” An injury to Lewis left Jacobsen partnering recording artist Ben Rector in his Pebble Beach swansong, but the American wishes some other professionals had demonstrated the same commitment as him to this year’s event: “It’s disheartening for me just to see this and I would have loved to have seen the best players in the world playing here this week.”
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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