PEBBLE BEACH -- Once again, the San Francisco 49ers stood five yards from glory Tuesday. And as the last ball of the day lofted high into the afternoon air above the 18th green, Dwight Clark's chip shot landed a few feet from the hole, then rolled harmlessly away. Another day, another disappointment for the Niner faithful, many of whom showed up dressed in red and gold at the Chevron Charity Shootout -- a chilly warm-up event for the AT&T National Pro-Am -- looking for a little redemption.
They didn't get it, although many of them came closer to catching a ball -- sometimes right in the teeth -- than Michael Crabtree did at the end of the Super Bowl. At the Pebble Beach Golf Links, the 49ers' heavily hyped "Quest for Six" was finally reduced to Getting Down in Eight.
This was the day the Niners were supposed to get their victory parade down San Francisco's Market Street, the second civic celebration in four months following the Giants' World Series victory. But there were no active 49ers present here. They were back in Santa Clara, emptying out their lockers at the team's training facility, maybe drawing up one last red zone play on the white board. And the only parade for the 49ers on this day was down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, as the Giants won the five-hole event and most of the available prize money for charity.
Lots of jitters
The Niners sent four players, none of whom had played in at least a decade, and were overmatched by the Giants' star-studded eight-man contingent. Even the event's sponsor struck a slightly disconsolate note about the shortage of Super Bowls won by the current 49ers' roster. "We had hoped to have two world champions here today," said Glenn Weckerlin, global marketing director for Chevron.
The Giants were led by starting pitchers Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong, who broke a tie with a gorgeous chip. Vogelsong worried before teeing off that he wouldn't be able to hit it straight enough to stay on the notoriously narrow fairways. When a tournament official asked if he was ready, Vogey replied evenly, "Ready to throw up."
He wasn't the only one with the jitters. Giants championship manager Bruce Bochy didn't particularly want to leave the practice green. "I'm not going to lie, I'm a little nervous," Bochy said. "If there's a gallery out there, I don't want to hit anybody." Bochy then lumbered up to the first tee and proceeded to plunk a spectator 50 yards down the right side of the fairway.
Dwight Clark, the celebrated wideout who retired in 1987, took his first shot wearing a battered 49ers helmet, which had an old-style face mask so enormous he could scarcely see he ball. "I'm going with the helmet," explained Clark, who recommended members of the gallery do the same. "Seriously, I would back the hell up."
Hitting his second shot from out of bounds, Vogelsong warned spectators to move behind a cart path, and when they didn't, he lined a sizzling drive right at them. The first hole took 40 minutes to complete, and so many players flew the green they became eligible for gate space at SFO.
Play didn't improve dramatically on the second hole. A pair of deer wandered onto the fairway while players were teeing off, but so many shots corkscrewed out of bounds that the deer went on grazing unmolested until the gallery passed.
Giants' broadcaster Mike Krukow showed up in a pair of orange knickers, custom made for him by Payne Stewart's former plus-four tailor. "My wife wouldn't let me out of the house in an outfit like that," said Duane Kuiper, Krukow's partner in the broadcast booth. Kuiper had no problem with Krukow's golf game, which was more than Krukow could say. "Even if he's not playing well," Kuiper said, "he talks a good game."
Despite all the foul balls, everyone seemed to be having a good time. It took 2 1/2 hours to play five holes -- there have been World Series games completed faster -- and at one point Dwight Clark was spotted walking down the 17th fairway with a Bloody Mary in each hand. The Catch, with vodka.
When former Giants hitting star Will Clark scattered spectators with an errant shot on the 18th fairway, he bellowed, "Take that with ya!" to the fan he had just belted. Most of the gallery had adopted a protective crouch in time for his next shot, which flew the green by about 20 yards. Just then, former Niners' tight end Brent Jones hit a stellar chip, to which Bochy drawled, "They should make you pee in a bottle."
Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in 6 days.
Contact Bruce Newman at 408-920-5004; follow him at Twitter.com/BruceNewmanTwit.
WHAT: A PGA Tour event played on three courses on the Monterey Peninsula.
WHERE: Spyglass Hill Golf Course, Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course) and Pebble Beach Golf Links.
WHEN: First groups tee off at 8 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 7:30 a.m. Sunday, weather permitting.
FORMAT: The 156 professionals will be paired with 156 celebrities. Each duo will play each of the three courses from Thursday through Saturday. The players making the cut after Saturday's round will play the final round at Pebble Beach Golf Links on Sunday.
CELEBRITIES: Scheduled to play are Bill Murray, Ray Romano, Carson Daly, Josh Duhamel, Andy Garcia, Chris O'Donnell, Kenny G, Huey Lewis, Wayne Gretzky, Matt Cain, Aaron Rodgers and Kelly Slater.
TV: Noon-3 p.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday on the Golf Channel. Noon-3 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Noon-3:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS
PRIZE MONEY: A total purse of $6.5 million with $1,152,000 going to the winner.