Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Celebrities excited for AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

While fan favorite Bill Murray remains unsure if he will be able to play in next week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am as his hand mends from surgery, tournament director Steve John remains excited about the current lineup of celebrities.

John explained the excitement for the tournament goes both ways. He said Tuesday he recently received a text message from "The Big Bang Theory" actor Kunal Nayyar, who will play in the tournament for the first time next week.

"He said, 'One more week! Getting very excited. Ran into (Jason) Dufner at the Lakers game, ran into Kenny G at Lakeside (Golf Club) and ran into Mark Wahlberg at Riviera (Country Club). All we did was talk about the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am,' " John said, reading the message. "That's great! You hope that they're as excited as we are to have them and in so many cases they are this year. Wahlberg was up here last week playing all three courses last week; practice rounds. (Justin) Timberlake came in September with some friends to play practice rounds."

Comedian Daniel Lawrence Whitney, better known as Larry the Cable Guy, made his debut at last year's Pro-Am. John said Whitney told him last year that all he wanted was to meet Clint Eastwood. Since then, John said the comedian, who quickly became a fan favorite, has been working on his golf game.

"Last year, he was pretty much an 18 handicap," John said. "This year, he's a 15. So he's improved his game, he's playing more, he's very serious about it. You think he's not, but he's a grinder."

Speaking of Eastwood, the Academy Award-winning actor and director returns to the 3M Celebrity Challenge, played the day before the opening round on Feb. 10, for his second consecutive year after taking a 10-year break.

"He wants to play," John said. "He's got Nick Faldo on the bag again. Nick called him and asked him if he could do it again and of course, why wouldn't he. Clint wants to play and it's great! It's wonderful to have the chairman of the board playing."

Eastwood, a Carmel resident, is the chairman of the board of directors for the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, which organizes the tourney.

The Pro-Am gets started with practice rounds on Monday and the Chevron Shoot-Out featuring the San Francisco Giants and 49ers on Tuesday before the 3M Celebrity Challenge the following day. The actual tournament runs Feb. 11-14.

Ray Romano gets a laugh out of Clint Eastwood, who put on the caddie bib while changing places with his caddie Nick Faldo on the 18th hole at the Pebble Beach Golf Links, during the 3M Celebrity Challenge on Feb. 11, 2015, at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. (Vern Fisher - Monterey Herald)

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