Jordan Spieth, 30, has been endorsed by Dallas based AT&T for a decade now. The three-time major champion’s presence at the telecom giant’s staple of the West Coast Swing has become as de rigueur as the healthy dollop of celebrity schtick that punctuates the storied tournament.
Hosted by the oceanside resort on every avid golfer’s bucket list, attracting stars to join in on the fun is as effortless as finding a taker for an extra Super Bowl ticket. Giving it some thought, Spieth revealed his most memorable grouping in the tourney comprised of country crooner Jake Owen, Dustin Johnson and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky.
“There were a number of rounds where the whole day was just smack talking to each other because we were having an intersquad match; needling Gretzky for all the jerseys that show up—he’s like ‘why are these people here, it’s a golf tournament’; Jake going over to someone’s house, they’ll have a guitar, and he starts playing music and doesn’t see that we’re trying to tee off like ten yards from him,” Spieth recollected.
While celebrity star power has never been a problem, in recent years field strength on the professional golfer side of the ledger has waned with schedule and status shifts buoying neighboring tour stops being the primary culprit.
Bygones, the old Bing Crosby Clambake which tees off at the end of the month, was selected to be the second of the PGA Tour’s eight signature events with elevated FedEx Cup points at stake and a select field of 80 elite PGA Tour players competing. That pumps up the purse from $9 million last year to $20 million, with a $3.6 million check cut to the leaderboard topper.
A smaller field did necessitate some format changes. The celebrities now only see two rounds of action and the entire tournament will be played on two golf courses—Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill—with Monterey Peninsula Country Club cut from the proceedings.
Pro-am participants will also only be culled from the sporting world, so fans will see Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Buster Posey but no Bill Murray or Ray Romano. That decision made by tournament director Steve John was simply a practical way to thin the herd with less spots available due to the halved field. Spieth’s perennial playing partner, the deep tenor voiced “Beachin’” singer, took the news in stride.
“I talked to Jake about it too and he was like, ‘look, every year I get the invite, I’m still surprised and excited and it doesn’t bother me. I hope I’m able to play it again someday.’ I don’t think he’d want to play it if he was the only one out of his buddies that are typically there,” Spieth explained.