It felt like the Crosby, and it rained and blew like the Crosby last week on the Monterey Peninsula. The script was familiar, too. Almost all the golfers—the good, the bad and the downright horrible—wound up red-faced, frustrated and a little in love with the place and the Alaskan rain-forest conditions. "All you can do is bring an extra pair of golf shoes and throw them away when you're finished," said Tom Watson with a shrug.
But the weather-shortened tournament that Fuzzy Zoeller won by five shots, at an 11-under-par 205, after the final round was washed out on Monday, was not the Bing Crosby, the tournament begun by der Bingle in 1937. That was the Clambake, an annual pro-am get-together for Bing's buddies. Over the years it turned into the hottest ticket in golf.
What took place last week at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Cypress Point—the same courses that hosted the Crosby—was the AT & T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, an unwieldy name and the source of a lot of controversy. Kathryn Crosby, who had stood behind the tournament since her husband's death in 1977, withdrew the family name last spring after the Monterey Peninsula Golf Foundation, the nonprofit, volunteer group that runs the tournament, chose AT & T, which had promised support to the tune of $750,000, as a sponsor. Kathryn, not wanting to be part of what she called "a corporate sideshow," declared, "The telephone peddlers' convention will not be held at Bing's memorial."
For most people the tournament without the name Bing Crosby was like Rolls without Royce. Tournament officials were barred from using the name Crosby in press conferences. Sportswriters began calling it "the C-word."
The C-word has a way of frustrating golfers in an endearing sort of way. The tournament began with so much wind that Jack Nicklaus almost whiffed a putt on the 17th hole at Cypress Point. He laughed about it on Friday, a day of war stories after overnight rains had soaked the three courses and canceled play.
But by Saturday afternoon, following a fat 80, the smile was off Nicklaus's face. He left Spyglass Hill in shock. "These greens," he muttered. "I never seem to read them. Maybe I need a new putter."
"A new putter?" asked his wife, Barbara.
"I know it's not the putter, it's the puttee," said Nicklaus. "But with a new putter, maybe I'll aim wrong, get lucky and pull it into the hole."
"Oh," said Barbara.
Illogical stuff like that somehow makes sense at the Crosby, or whatever you call it. It's one of the tour's best-liked events. "Every time I play here I get sick, and yet I keep coming back," said Greg Norman between coughs.