Clint Eastwood hits a tee shot during the 3M Celebrity Challenge on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Carmel, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
PEBBLE BEACH — Bill Murray’s first drive at a charity event Wednesday sailed so far off course that he waved goodbye to the ball as it vanished into the trees.
Not a problem, he said.
“Well, one of my other charities is supporting the homeless,” Murray reasoned. “And there are some living over in the cypresses to the right.”
The wayward shot was part of a rough day for the comic prince of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Team Murray was no match for Team Eastwood at the 3M Celebrity Challenge.
That makes sense. Dirty Harry, even at age 87, can still deliver a stirring pep talk.
“He held up a big .357 Magnum and said, ‘Make my day,”’ country music artist Clay Walker joked after the five-hole tournament at Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Clint Eastwood’s foursome combined to win $80,000. The Oscar-winning director donated his portion of the winnings to the SPCA of Monterey County. (Do you feel lucky, pups?)
Team Murray captured the final hole of the day for $20,000 but it was too late to save the squad’s chances of a third consecutive trophy.
Bill Murray pretends to kick a media member during the 3M Celebrity Challenge on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Carmel, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
Murray was magnanimous in defeat.
Oh, wait. No, he wasn’t. Murray blamed a vast and sinister conspiracy at the highest levels of golf.
“We weren’t even wanted here,” he deadpanned. “They didn’t want us to play. They’re trying to break up the team.
“There were phone calls in the middle of the night. There have been disruptions. Our cars are being followed. All in the name of stopping us from claiming the trophy
“It’s not sportsmanship. It’s not decency. It’s not what made (Monterey) County great.”
Based on Team Eastwood’s stacked lineup, maybe the fix (begin ital) was (end ital) in. His direct playing partner was Juli Inkster, the Santa Cruz native and Hall of Famer.
Inkster has 31 career victories on the LPGA Tour, including two U.S. Opens. And if that weren’t enough, Eastwood’s caddie was Nick Faldo, winner of six major championships.
Together, Inkster and Faldo coached Eastwood through the best shot of the day: A 16-foot putt on No. 3 for a par that pushed an $80,000 pot to the pivotal next hole.
“Oh, that was unbelievable,” Inkster said. “The coaching was just on point. He knew his line and he just rolled the rock right in there. It was an amazing moment for golf.”
“Legends rise to the top, don’t they?” Faldo said. “Clint’s putt was beautiful. The touch, the rhythm.”
Then, getting into the silly spirit of the day, Faldo added: “It’s just an eye to behold the eye that you held before you had an eye. ”
Yeah, the day was kinda like that.
The ridiculousness of the scene was best exemplified by Murray’s attire: He wore a green shirt, a black vest, pants with yellow flowers, white shoes and pink gloves. It looked like he was sponsored by Crayola.
And just what kind of flowers were on Murray’s pants? (“Sunflowers,” Inkster ventured. “Like his disposition.”) Whatever they were, the floral pattern was so garish that a friend stopped him before Murray teed off at No. 3.
“Do those pants need watering?” the friend asked.
“No,” Murray shot back. “It’s a drip line.”
Alas, Team Murray met its demise at No. 17, the fourth hole for this event. Kelly Rohrbach, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and former member of Georgetown Division I golf team, played well all day.
But she ran into trouble on a bunker shot. Of all things, the Baywatch actress had trouble with the sand.
Rohrbach’s wedge shot caught the lip of the bunker before plopping back near her feet.
Clint Eastwood, left, talks with Bill Murray during the 3M Celebrity Challenge on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Carmel, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)
“Bunkers are a little tricky,” she said, “but that was a particularly bad bunker shot. Good old sand.
Murray fared no better when it was his turn to try hitting out of the bunker, and Team Eastwood pounced on the rare opening. Alfonso Ribeiro — aka Carlton Banks of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” — and Walker won the hole by combining on a par-3.
It was a sweet moment for Ribeiro, who was getting lots of grief for having never been part of a winning team over the first three Eastwood-Murray Cups.
“Listen, I was Season 19 champion of ‘Dancing with the Stars,” he said, beaming. “So I know how to win. Respect the dance.”
Rohrbach, meanwhile, had one other rough moment: Her soft chip shot at No. 2 nearly hit Eastwood, who ducked for cover, but the ball caught a piece of Faldo on the way down. (He lived).
For their winning hole, Ribeiro got $40,000 to donate to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts while Walker, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1996, donated his $40,000 to Band Against MS.
And while those two had the biggest payout, Eastwood was the star of his own team. He got off to a rough start but rebounded with several strong tee shots to go with his clutch putt at No. 3. Inkster called him the MVP.
Murray, at first, tried to pretend Team Eastwood’s victory didn’t bother him.
“He’s a great American and a local guy. We’re trying to keep all of the money here on the Peninsula,” he said.
But Murray was clearly disappointed that he failed to three-peat. He compared himself to Bill Belichick, whose favored New England Patriots lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.
“Well, obviously, none of the players today have a spot on next year’s team,” Murray told a laughing gallery at the trophy presentation.
The day’s emcee, Tom Gross, followed up by asking Murray if it was too much in the heat of the moment, like Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski musing about retirement after the Super Bowl.
“Gronkowski, as you know, suffered a serious collision to his head. He was in a protocol that I am not under,” Murray said evenly. “I am of perfect mind and body right now. And I say: Never again. Never again all of them.”
So consider yourselves cut, Rohrbach, Josh Duhamel and Toby Keith.
“There are teams that they can play on, but they are not here in this area,” Murray said. “They should be relocating some place closer to … well … Norway would be a good start.”
Actress Kelly Rohrbach during the 3M Celebrity Shoot-Out at the Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (Vern Fisher – Monterey Herald)