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Pebble Beach golf challenges golfers

The four compadres returned to the Magnolia State Tuesday aftera memorable golf outing at Pebble Beach. For most golfers, it’salso known as California Dreaming. But for Mike Smith and Drs. RayMontalvo and Braxter Irby of Brookhaven, and David Coleman ofMadison, it was a dream trip come true.

Representing Mississippi in the National Kidney FoundationTournament in Pebble Beach, Calif., the foursome enjoyed amemorable but challenging 4-day scramble format, played on everygolfer’s Mecca.

They shot a 4-round score of 20-under in rainy, wind-blownconditions. Three years ago they were 38-under when they placed19th in a group of 110 teams from across the nation. This year 20thplace was 26-under.

California had been inundated by rain for the last month sosoggy conditions were anticipated. Smith didn’t exaggerate when hesaid, “The conditions were horrible. It had rained all week, theweek before. There was absolutely no roll on our drives.”

Riding the strong back and par-busting talents of Coleman, theyhad won the state tournament at Annandale Golf Club last summer toqualify for the voyage to Pebble Beach.

“We were three short knockers and one long hitter,” said Smith.”It was tough on our piano carrier,” referring to Coleman.

On the bright side, Smith said, “We won two scats outthere.”

They eagled the No. 1 hole at Spanish Bay, a long par-5. Colemanhit an approach shot to 8-feet and Ray Montalvo made the putt.

On No. 17 at Del Monte, the quartet realized the shot of theweek. Coleman hit a driver off the fairway from 292 yards out. Theball rolled to within two feet of the cup.

For the record, they only made two bogeys in four rounds ofgolf. “Under those conditions, I thought that was mighty good,”said Smith.

As promised the four courses were set up for playing at the PGAlevel. “On every par-4, we needed a wood for an approach shot.”

According to Smith, last Saturday was the only miserable dayweatherwise. “We played in 48-degree weather. The wind blew and itrained all day.”

That was the day the foursome played The Bayonet, recognized asthe longest course on the Monterey peninsula.

“The first day we shot 9-under at Del Monte,” said Smith. “Thesecond day we were 2-under at Bayonet Point. The third day we were5-under at Pebble Beach, and the fourth day we were 4-under atSpanish Bay.”

Arriving early for a day of practice, the quartet played a roundat the historic Olympic Club in San Francisco. It has hosted threeU.S. Opens and is saturated with golf lore.

Certainly, it was a rain-soaked 18 holes at Olympic. “Because ofthe rain, we were not allowed to use carts,” said Smith.

“David shot a 73 there and he played it from the tips, in wetconditions. The caddy was really amazed.”

Smith, the team captain and strategy expert, recalled hispersonal experience. “I wore all-leather shoes. Both of my feetwere soaked after I had walked 100 yards. I left six pair ofDryJoys at home.”

How did Smith feel?

“It felt like each one of my feet weighed about 25 pounds,” washis replay. “I was give out. I had never been that tired in all mylife. I used to walk 20 miles a day when I was quail hunting. I wasmore tired than that.”

So much for experience.

Smith and his friends hope they can win another state title thissummer and plan for a return trip to Pebble Beach next January.

On a related subject, the Brookhaven Country Club will host ascat tournament on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 5. Entrance fee is $20,plus a cart fee. The golf tournament runs from 12:30 to 4:30p.m.

According to BCC general manager and PGA professional RonnyRoss, there will be a Super Bowl party, starting at 4:30 p.m. Wivesare asked to bring their favorite snack dish.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com