A book of case histories could be written about Pebble's atrocities that would make Edgar Allan Poe read like Nancy Drew. There were men who made birdies on Thursday around the early holes and got on the leader board and even held the lead who didn't make the 36-hole cut—because of the back side.
In the first round, Bunky Henry was one under par through four holes but finished the day 16 over with an 88. Frank Beard—a steady, tested player, right?—cooled Pebble in a swift 85-80. Archer's 87 was mind-boggling. And on and on it went, reducing touring pros to weekend hackers.
If all of this is a way of saying Pebble Beach was the real star of the Open, that's true. After all, only 10 men broke 300. Considering that Merion is maybe too short and Pine Valley is too tormentingly special, Pebble Beach might have proved that when it is in good condition, as it was for the Open, it is America's greatest championship test.
And it no doubt is a bit arrogant to say so, but Pebble did separate the ordinaries from the absolute best players there are today in both name and pocketbook. Isn't that what a superb course and a big championship are supposed to do?
Now the burden grows for Jack Nicklaus. He goes next to Scotland, amid more pressure, more talk of the Slam, more intense preparation. Another rendezvous with who knows what. When it was all over at Pebble Beach Sunday night, it was left to that noble ex-king, Arnold Palmer, to say best what lies ahead for Nicklaus. "From now on," said Arnold, "he's going to have trouble even breathing."