Patriots coach Bill Belichick played in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Thursday and ESPN.com national columnist Gene Wojciechowski followed him through his 18-hole round. Belichick was part of a foursome with golfers Ricky Barnes and Bud Cauley and Alabama coach Nick Saban.
He wore gray pleated pants; a black, short-sleeve shirt; white golf shoes; a white visor; and, on rare occasion, the tiniest hint of a smile. Belichick, who has played in this tournament several times, didn't arrive at Pebble Beach until Wednesday. He didn't bother with a practice round. Instead, he spent part of that night in the world-famous Tap Room of The Lodge hotel watching Duke's miracle comeback against North Carolina with Saban, former U.S. Open champion Jerry Pate and former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa.
Spyglass is the most difficult course on the peninsula. So it didn't help Belichick's game that he was playing with brand-new clubs, delivered a day earlier in a touring pro-sized blue-and-white bag. When his tee shot on No. 6 squirted far right and into the woods, Belichick pretended his 9-degree driver was Tiquan Underwood and cut it for the rest of the round.
Pate, a Bama man, is a close friend of Saban's. And Saban was an assistant coach on Belichick's Cleveland Browns staff in the early 1990s. The connection wasn't lost on Pate, who noticed immediately the layers of rust on the coaches' golf games.
"What I like about Bill's swing is that he has an excellent grip, so fundamentally somebody has taught him the most important thing about the game -- the grip," said Pate, as we watched him tee off on the second hole. "He takes the club back inside just a little bit and as he makes his downswing the club gets away from his body -- which is good -- and he's going to hit a little slight cut, left to right, which is a money shot. Totally under control. He's going to be in play most of the time."
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