Peyton Manning plays Pebble pro-am

Updated: February 8, 2014, 4:13 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- We've all had those days when nothing goes right at the office -- so bad that when someone asks "Wanna get away?" you say how soon.

And that's how the links at Pebble Beach became a refuge for a beleaguered Peyton Manning.

Five days after his Denver Broncos were soundly defeated in the Super Bowl, Manning played a round at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Manning It's too hard to beat being out here, one of the Lord's great creations out here. But great tournament, great cause -- glad to get invited to play. Enjoyed time here.

-- Peyton Manning

"It's too hard to beat being out here, one of the Lord's great creations out here," Manning said Friday. "But great tournament, great cause -- glad to get invited to play. Enjoyed time here."

As Manning tries to look past the 43-8 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, his team heads into the offseason under the assumption he'll return as their quarterback for 2014.

Manning has said several times he intends to play in 2014, and Broncos chief John Elway said this week they will operate this offseason based on Manning being behind center.

So Manning can relax and take the coming months in stride. The big decisions on his future are his and his alone this time.

"Lot of sports fans out here, golf fans, and as we all know, football fans all over the country," said Manning during his round in which he was paired up with PGA Tour pro Scott Langley. "That's what this event is about, fans and interaction. Remember that five, six years ago, very much the same as it was today."

One of Manning's biggest fans, Nate Winiecki, got to meet his hero on his 13th birthday and offer the quarterback some encouragement.

"I told him we'd get them next year," Winiecki said.

Phil Mickelson, who at 4-under par after Friday's round stood five shots behind leaders Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth, also was encouraged by Manning's appearance.

"Love that he's out here," Mickelson said. "He's a huge asset to this tournament, brings a lot to this event and what it's about. He helps bring [the] game of golf to other people who wouldn't be exposed to the game. Good to have him here."

Langley, Manning's playing partner who was 10 shots off the lead after a second-round 75, said he was "happy to help any way I can."

"It's a little escape for him," Langley said.

Information from ESPN's Shelley Smith was used in this report.

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