Cain turns in best amateur performance at Pebble Beach
Teammate Posey plays final round with tournament winner
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Leave it to a couple of San Francisco Giants to be right there for the championship moment before one of them gets to hold up a trophy. It was that way in Texas, in Detroit, in Kansas City -- and now at Pebble Beach.
Not long after catcher Buster Posey played in the same group as AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner Brandt Snedeker on Sunday afternoon, the announcement came that pitcher Matt Cain won the Jack Lemmon Award as the amateur who contributed the most strokes to his pro-am team. Cain, a 6-handicap, posted 27 red numbers for partner Matt Bettencourt as the team finished tied for 12th at 30-under par.
This wasn't a Cy Young Award or the World Series trophy, but the thrill of winning the crystal bowl that came with the honor named after Pebble's most-loved amateur was as good as it gets outside of baseball for Cain.
"This really was the icing on the cake," said Cain, who participated in his fifth pro-am here and said he was shocked to hear of his award. "To have this with the way this whole week turned out, it doesn't get much better than that."
Posey felt much the same about his first experience with the tournament, paired with lifelong Giants fan Nick Watney, who finished second to Snedeker in the PGA Tour event.
After all, walking down the 18th fairway at Pebble Beach Golf Links is a dream for just about any golfer, but doing it along with the leaders of a Tour event is something else entirely, even for a guy who has been at the center of three World Series celebrations.
"It was an experience, for sure," said Posey, whose pro-am team with Watney finished tied for sixth at 34-under. "I've been a fan of golf for a long time. It was cool to be able to walk up to the 18th hole there with the eventual winner and Watney."
Of course, February really is about pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, and that's what this pitcher and this catcher were doing as soon as they left Pebble Beach on Sunday evening. Cain obviously is feeling great physically after losing most of last season to right elbow surgery and an ankle procedure, playing all four rounds of golf plus some practice rounds earlier in the week, and Posey is squared away to enter his sixth big league season after winning a third World Series ring in his first five.
Some time on the links during what turned into perhaps the most beautiful week of weather in the tournament's history is a fitting segue into the season.
"That's what's fun about coming out here before Spring Training," Cain said. "Being able to shut down the offseason, come out here and play a bunch of golf and then knowing I'm done with it and I don't have to worry about playing golf during the season, I get my fix and get on with it."
Said Posey: "It's time to get it going when this is over with. It's a fun way to make the transition."
On the course, Cain played as well as he ever has played in his life. He had several birdies and a pair of natural eagles, as many as he'd had his entire golf life before this.
Posey, meanwhile, birdied No. 11 for a net eagle, putting from off the fringe -- with a little help from Watney.
"That was all Nick," Posey said. "Nick read most of them. It was fun to watch him putt. He putted really, really well -- but what do I know?"
What he knows is that playing in this little pro-am is something that everybody in his family thought was really cool.
"I think I got more texts from my parents this week than I have in, like, the past three years of big league games, so they enjoyed it as much as anything," Posey said.
While this golf tournament was played about 100 miles away from AT&T Park and even farther away from the Giants' Spring Training facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Giants definitely planted their flag at this year's Pebble Beach event. With Cain and Posey in the field, the galleries were packed with fans sporting orange and black, and Giants flags could be seen and "Let's go, Giants" chants heard.
"Maybe some movie stars people want to see on TV, but everyone around here wants to see Buster," Watney said.
Throughout the week, both Cain and Posey embraced the intimacy that goes with this particular golf event, waving to fans throughout their rounds and signing autograph after autograph following each round -- planting the Giants flag firmly in the Pebble Beach soil.
"We're lucky we have a lot of people persons on our roster, guys who like people, like to interact with the fans," Giants president Larry Baer said. "They've been doing that for not just the four days of the tournament, but in the practice rounds, so really all week.
"They represent the Giants franchise perfectly. I'm very proud of them."