PEBBLE BEACH – Thirty years removed from making “The Catch,” 49ers Hall of Fame wide receiver Dwight Clark sunk two putts on Tuesday to win $60,000 split between the 49ers Foundation and for charities in the Monterey Bay community.
Clark, along with several former and current 49ers, took part in the Pebble Beach Charity Golf Shootout against the San Francisco Giants, a budding rivalry in the Bay Area charity circuit.
In the alternate shot, five-hole format, Clark and former 49ers three-time Super Bowl champion tackle Harris Barton were San Francisco’s winning team on the third hole and final hole, which saw two skins on the line on the 18th hole at renowned Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Alex Smith and coach Jim Harbaugh were paired together in one of the most high-profile groups put together on the day. The two will later reconvene at Pebble on Thursday, as Smith intends to caddy for his coach who is competing in the Pro-Am tournament. The other high-profile pairing, Giants All-Star pitcher Matt Cain and local legend Will Clark, supplied the other two wins on the first and second holes, respectively.
“We’re out here to raise money and we’re all out here for different charities and that’s the real goal,” said Smith wearing a red 49ers Foundation polo. “It’s fun to get out here and compete with the Giants and have a little competition on a neutral site.”
Following the golf outing, Harbaugh brought the attention back to football for a moment when he told Comcast SportsNet Bay Area’s “Chronicle Live” that Smith is a top priority for the 49ers in the free agency process.
Smith, himself, said there’s nothing to report on the stage of the negotiations. But did add, “I think some time in the next couple of weeks the process will get started.”
For more on the memorable outing, enjoy memorable sights and sounds from Tuesday’s outing on the links.
The most interesting aspect of the 49ers-Giants golf shootout was the location of the event. With it taking place at Pebble Beach, site of the AT&T Pro-Am which runs Thursday-Sunday, several tour pros were out on the practice greens working on their putting strokes like any other week. The difference, however, was the intermingling of PGA pros and 49ers and Giants players. Major Champion winner Steve Elkington even gave putting tips to Dwight Clark on the practice green. Good thing Elkington was so gracious with his tips (make sure to keep your head straight during the putting stroke); Dwight Clark sunk birdie and par putts on the 3rd and 18th holes to win $60,000 in earnings for the 49ers team.
While members of the 49ers and Giants teams conducted interviews on the green, Harbaugh, who was a late arrival to the green after hitting balls on the driving range, went right to his putting practice. Judging by the photo and (in-season) garb, Harbaugh was very much focused on winning money for charity. At one point he said to former 49ers tight end Brent Jones, “We’re going to win this thing right?”
Jones spent time mingling with his old teammates Clark, Jerry Rice and Harris Barton. The tight end also made sure to greet the Giants contingency, including Will Clark. When the former San Francisco first basemen signed autographs for fans, someone yelled out, “Will the eye black come out today?” To which Clark fired back, “No chance.”
Will Clark’s trademark intensity was well noticed throughout the day, even if he didn’t have eye-black. Paired with Cain, the duo benefitted greatly from the pitcher’s long drives from the tee box. Cain’s drives weren’t the only thing hard to ignore – so were his argyle black, orange and white pants. Cain proceeded to hit the best drive on the first hole, out-driving Smith by 10-15 yards. Giants broadcaster Dave Flemming, who announced Harbaugh’s football games at Stanford, too, remarked: “Matt’s playing a different sport.” Harbaugh and Smith both drove the ball well on the first hole, with the coach using a left-to-right fade down the left side of the fairway and the quarterback electing to use a high drawing shot down the right center of the fairway. “Off the first tee is a lot of pressure, everybody is watching, but I hit a good shot,” Smith said. The 49ers used Smith’s tee shot and Harbaugh proceeded to chip it up on the green. The duo, however, couldn’t secure a par on the opening hole. Cain and Will Clark made a four to win the first hole and $20,000 for charity.
Harbaugh teed off on the second hole to set his quarterback on the left side of the fairway on the Par 5. “I was impressed,” Smith later said of his coach’s skills on the links. “He was trying to underplay it. He was being modest about his swing. But I actually thought he played all right.”
Next, Smith reached in his bag for a fairway wood to Harbaugh’s delight. “We’re going for the green in three,” Harbaugh said with a smile. “No laying up.” Smith’s shot, however, trickled low down the right side of the fairway and ended up in a perfect layup position. The Giants, unlike Harbaugh and Smith, had an eagle putt after Cain hit the green following Will Clark’s big drive. Harbaugh quickly chimed out after, “Hoping for a Cain and Clark three-putt.” The coach didn’t get his wish, as Will Clark made a par putt to give the Giants another $20,000 for charity.
As Harbaugh made his way to the third tee box, many of the 49ers fans watching from the fairway ropes yelled out, “Who’s got it better than us?” Harbaugh even joined in on the “Nobody!” response. Fans reached out for autographs from Harbaugh and Smith, which both graciously obliged in doing so. One fan who received a Harbaugh autograph on a white Pebble Beach pin flag reveled in the moment, yelling out to Harbaugh, “Thanks!” The 49ers got momentum going in the shootout thanks to Barton’s approach shot on the third hole. Needing to put pressure on the Giants team, Barton took a short iron from the left rough and flew his ball to the right side of the green. The perfectly aimed shot paid off as it hit a side hill mound and rolled 30 feet from the pin. Clark would capitalize on the approach shot by making the longest putt of the day, a birdie putt that won the 49ers $20,000 of charity money.
Before the 49ers or Giants could tee off on the famous 17th hole at Pebble, celebrities making their way through practice rounds happened to play through. A group that consisted of George Lopez, Don Cheadle, Anthony Anderson and Kenny G quickly hit tee shots and finished the hole as charity emcee Brian Murphy took the time to interview Smith during the wait. Following the celebrity encounter, the 49ers and Giants halved the hole when announcer Mike Krukow sunk a par-saving putt. The 49ers were once again helped out by Barton’s tremendous iron play. Barton’s tee shot on 17 found the green, to which Dwight Clark responded immediately, “Great shot, H!” Dwight Clark didn’t make the birdie, but Barton tapped in for a 49ers par.
Fitting how it all came down to the 18th hole, the Golf Gods would have it no other way. Both teams were in great position thanks to monstrous drives from Cain and Smith. The Giants pitcher’s drive was measured out at 330 yards with Smith just behind. “They drove the ball like pros off the tee,” Harbaugh later remarked. “It was really neat to watch the trajectory of the shots and they hit it as far as those guys and some of the caddies were saying the same thing. That was fun to watch.”
Perhaps the most impressive shot on the hole took place on the 49ers approach to the green. Smith had a large tree blocking his angle to the green, but after Harbaugh reminded his quarterback that trees are “90-percent air,” Smith got in his stance and launched the ball towards the green. After Smith’s ball ricocheted off some of the branches, it nestled up on the green for Harbaugh to attempt the birdie putt. Harbaugh and Smith were unable to preserve their par, but the Barton and Clark duo plotted down the hole to set up a par putt. The former 49ers receiver made his second big putt of the day, this time winning two holes at once as well as the overall competition for the 49ers.
“It was wonderful to meet these guys like Matt Cain, Will Clark, Mike Krukow and my old friend (Stanford football play-by-play man) Dave Flemming and all the 49ers guys,” Harbaugh said. “It was just wonderful.”
The true competitor in Harbaugh, slightly down about his performance in the shootout, was pleased to raise money for charity in his first time playing golf beside his quarterback.
“Had a chance to make a birdie putt on 18 at Pebble Beach with the crowd all around and that was neat,” Harbaugh added. “It was great being out here with the guys and the people out here are really nice, a lot of 49ers fans and Giants fans, so it was nice to interact with them. It was a wonderful experience.”
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