No Kicking Stones At Pebble Beach

A fit Phil Mickelson chases a fifth win at Pebble Beach. Photo:

Phil Mickelson is among 156 professional golfers who line-up against each other and alongside celebrities like Don Cheadle, Kid Rock, Wayne Gretzky, Ray Romano and Andy Roddick at a tournament boasting prizemoney of almost $7m. After declaring he is over a nagging back injury, Mickelson makes his 20th straight appearance at Pebble Beach. He won there in 2012, before finishing 60th last year. Over-all, the popular left-hander has been successful at this tournament four times. Only Mark O’Meara has a better record with five victories.

Brandt Snedeker was successful in 2013 after shooting four rounds of 68 or better. On the final day he carded 65 to finish at -19, two shots clear of Chris Kirk . Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell returns to the site of his 2010 US Open triumph. McDowell is coming off a long break in a year where he plans to concentrate on the big events – the majors, his title defences, the PGA play-offs and the Ryder Cup.

Aussie Jason Day is chasing PGA Tour success and has made a promising start to his 2014 campaign. The Queenslander finished tied for second behind Scott Stallings at Torrey Pines last weekend. The 26-year-old earned almost $400,000 for that effort. The winner’s cheque at Pebble Beach is around $1.2m.

Other class players in the field include long-driver Dustin Johnson , 2013 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Jordan Speith , former US Open winner Jim Furyk and Hunter Mahan , who finished in a tie for fourth at the recent Phoenix Open won by Kevin Stadler .

Day heads an 11-man Australian charge, which also includes Matt Jones who finished 12th at Scottsdale, John Senden who tied for fourth at the McGladrey Classic in November, Aaron Baddeley who placed fifth in the CIMB Classic three months ago, Greg Chalmers who has three recent top-15 finishes and former US Open winner Geoff Ogilvy .

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