SAN DIEGO – As buddies trips go, this three-week blitz through some of California’s finest golf real estate ranks right up there.
Seven days in the Pam Springs area playing three courses, followed by six days in San Diego playing two courses overlooking the Pacific, then seven days in Pebble Beach playing three courses hugging the sea.
As for specifics, the courses on the trip are the La Quinta Country Club, Nicklaus Tournament Course and the Stadium Course at PGA West; the North and South at Torrey Pines; and Spyglass, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Pebble Beach.
Or, to be even more specific, the layouts for the American Express, Farmers Insurance Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Not a bad itinerary for some of the game’s best in the world. Then again, it’s not all peaches and cream, for there are challenges for the players who will play in all three events. Especially with the NFL juggernaut responsible for this week’s Farmers Insurance Open ending on Saturday, as to not have its final round run up against the conference championship games on Sunday.
It makes for a quick turnaround for the 56 players who finished off last week by playing in Sunday’s final round of the American Express. The Wednesday start will come quickly, and prep time and recovery time will be reduced.
“It’s interesting for all of us,” Day said of the early start.
Day, who finished in a tie for 49th on Sunday, won the Farmers in 2015 and 2018. He had little experience playing the three courses used last week but has plenty of experience playing Torrey Pines and the three tracks in Pebble Beach.
“The veteran guys definitely have an advantage,” Day said. “But it’s not easy. Last week, there were 5½-, 6-hour rounds. It’s a mental grind, stopping and starting. It will be like that next week. And eight courses in three weeks? That’s tricky.”
Day continued: “The good thing about the Saturday finish is you get an extra day for Pebble next week. For guys who haven’t played there much, that’s big.”
Will Zalatoris tied for sixth on Sunday. He finished his round about 3 p.m. on the west coast, took off from the desert around 5, got to San Diego at 7:15.
He was at Torrey Pines Monday at 7:30 a.m. and played nine holes on the North.
“This is the week I’m really going to try and conserve energy,” he said. “Next week, I’ve played two of the three courses two dozen times and I’ve played Monterey Peninsula a couple times, so I’ve played all the courses. It’s not like I’ll see anything new.”
And Zalatoris has dealt with short weeks before. When the Korn Ferry Tour returned after the COVID-19 layoff, there were two back-to-back weeks where the first tournament ended on Sunday and the next tournament started on Wednesday.
“I’m 25, so I’m not going to be complaining about energy,” he said. “But I don’t want to make the mistake where I overwork today and tomorrow. Especially after playing with the ams last week and next week, 5½-hour rounds. It’s a lot of fun, but those are still long weeks.”
Rookie Davis Riley dealt with those short weeks on the Korn Ferry Tour, too, and he won twice on the tour in 2020. He’s still learning to ropes inside and outside the gallery ropes of the PGA Tour.
Davis Riley plays a shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the American Express golf tournament at Pete Dye Stadium Course. (Photo: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)
He has never played at Torrey Pines, has played just once in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and spent a week earlier this year practicing on the three courses used last week. He said his biggest ally during the three weeks is his veteran caddie, Lance Bennett.
“He has seen a lot of the courses and he knows them so well,” Riley said. “That is so important when you go to different arenas, go to new places. It can be challenging. But Lance helps me out there, too, telling me where to stay, where to eat, what holes you have to see and play. A lot of little things can be a lot to jungle. Setting up a hotel takes energy. Lots of little things.
“It’s really time management; for me, it’s how efficient can you be. Definitely a lot of early nights for me. I haven’t seen 9:30 (p.m.) the past couple of weeks.”
Might not see 9:30 this and next week, too.