Darius Rucker has been involved with golf and charity for years, starting with his former band, Hootie and the Blowfish, staging a tournament with several PGA Tour players the Monday after the Masters.
So when the tour asked him to get involved with its charity campaign, he didn’t hesitate.
2011 AT&T PEBBLE BEACH NATIONAL PRO-AM
Dustin Johnson is going for his third straight victory in the PGA Tour stop on the Monterey Peninsula.
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In an agreement with record company Capitol Nashville, Rucker has produced a song named after the tour’s campaign -- “Together, Anything’s Possible” -- which can be downloaded from iTunes with all proceeds going to PGA Tour Charities.
“Golf is my thing. It’s the only real hobby I have,” Rucker said Wednesday at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, where he was invited to play in the celebrity shootout. “When the PGA Tour called and asked me to do a song, that was a no-brainer for me. I was really honored that they would ask me to do it.
“I told them I would write as many songs as they needed until they got happy.”
How many songs did he end up writing?
“One,” he said with a laugh.
He said the tour asked him to incorporate the slogan into the song, and Rucker decided to make it the title.
“I wanted to write a song that says what it’s about,” he said. “It’s about helping people. And I’m one of those cheesy, corny guys. I believe that if we get together as people, we can do anything.”
As for his golf?
Rucker says he plays off a 12 handicap, but it’s not from a lack of trying. He mostly plays at home in South Carolina, with Bull’s Bay his primary course. His best score was an even-par 72, which came with some clutch play. He was 1 under for his round until taking a double bogey on the 17th hole, only to make a long putt for birdie on the 18th.
His best memory of Pebble Beach is playing the 18th, no matter what score he makes.
“That hole is just magic for me,” he said. “I always say how much I love South Carolina and golfing in South Carolina. We got holes on the ocean, but nothing like that.”
HARRINGTON AND WEATHER: Padraig Harrington grew up in enough cold, windy conditions in Ireland that it shaped him as a player. He is comfortable taking more club for shorter shots, and is able to feel when weather requires various shots.
That helped him win his first major at the Carnoustie in the 2007 British Open.
Going out to No. 1 for the four-hole playoff, clouds began to gather and Harrington could feel the temperature drop. From 166 yards in the fairway, he opted for one more club and hit a 7-iron into 6 feet for birdie. Sergio Garcia came up well short and into a bunker, then failed to save par to fall two shots behind. The Spaniard never caught up.
“I took extra club and I was committed to it,” Harrington said. “I could see where someone might say, ‘You might need one extra club.’ But I knew it.”
STAR POWER: This is one of the PGA Tour events where the players aren’t always the biggest stars.
And it’s not just the antics of Bill Murray, George Lopez or Ray Romano, or football players such as Drew Brees and Tony Romo, all of whom will be featured prominently on the Saturday telecast. That’s a tradition at the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Not to be ignored is the heavyweights from the financial world.
Paul Goydos was paired one year with the CEO of Hertz, and soon thereafter had a hat and bag deal with the car rental company. Phil Mickelson is playing with Tim Flynn, the chairman of KPMG, one of his sponsors.
“I don’t think anybody teeing off at the AT&T Pro-Am this week as an amateur has been dragged in off the street,” said Padraig Harrington, who is playing with Irish businessman J.P. McManus. “There are a lot of people who seriously achieved in their own field. A lot of times, it’s not the professional players who are the ones to be listened to. It’s the amateur players that are the ones to be listened to. There a lot of things to be gleaned in a week like this.”
Paul Goydos recalls his rookie year getting paired with Donald Trump. He asked Paul Spengler, now the executive vice president at Pebble Beach Co., why an unheralded rookie would be partners with someone like Trump.
“I said, ‘He should’ve been with Payne Stewart or something,”’ Goydos said. “He said, ‘If we pair him with Payne Stewart, it’s Payne Stewart’s group. If we pair him with you, it’s Donald Trump’s group.”’
And it was the Donald’s show. Trump made a hole-in-one on the 12th hole at Spyglass.
CAPTAIN LOVE: Two weeks into his new job as Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love III is not looking at any players with an eye toward the 2012 matches at Medinah. He’s still thinking only about his own game.
That doesn’t mean the Ryder Cup is forgotten by everyone.
“Trust me, the PGA of America is thinking about it,” Love said. “They think about it every day.”
Love said he already has received two e-mails related to the Ryder Cup. His wife, Robin, already has made decisions related to the Ryder Cup hotel and the clubhouse at Medinah.
Love said he has a meeting with the PGA of America to determine a timeline for the big decisions, but for now, it’s about golf. The only team he is interested in this year is the Presidents Cup team in Australia. Even so, it’s already been an eye-opener.
“Everybody says, ‘Why do they pick the captain so soon? Because there’s a lot to get done,” Love said. “Sure, 20 years ago you could do it in six months. But now it’s a big job.”