Bill Murray legend continues to grow at Pebble Beach


There was a break in the action on the 17th tee. A marshal received an urgent message on his Secret Service earpiece, and he raised his hand, interrupting Bill Murray during his backswing.

The actor stopped, swallowed his temporary annoyance and returned his 3 wood to his cart.

Then he turned around and started walking straight towards me.

Bill Murray is preparing to play Thursday at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. A gathering of longtime friends, onlookers, and even family members interacted with him throughout the day.

Photo by Andrew Pridgen

I shouldered my camera and took another step, now standing in the front row of the gallery. That was it. It was my Bill Murray Moment™.

I had spent all day chasing Murray on the Monterey Peninsula Country Club course at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which ends Sunday. I listened to other people gently recall their memories of the one and only – a man so prolific, kind, spontaneous and charming that they were a whole. Netflix documentary about his random acts of Bill Murrayness.

Now it was my turn.


We locked eyes, which was easy to do. Hers are a tractor beam, comforting and charming – understanding and perhaps a little sad – the same color as the ocean in the background.

He carefully lifted the rope, actually a piece of string, and waved me through. “Come here, pretty boy.”

Beautiful? Ah, Bill. Thanks, I mean…

Then, he intervened.

Little Brady Wonhof from Denver, all 12 years old – 5 foot nothing with cheeks still pinched and a pumpkin smile. My new sworn enemy.

Young Brady had a baseball cap pulled low on his forehead and a thong that flipped in the breeze. On command, he advanced right in front of me, slipped under the rope and into the arms of Murray who was waiting for him.

Murray pulled Brady closer and closer, placed his golf gloved hand on the lucky kid’s shoulder and said, “Hey mom, how about a picture?”

Brady’s mother, Lee Wonhof, agreed. “And by the way, those are amazing highlights,” Murray told him.

Her cheeks flushed red as she quickly took horizontal photos with her phone. Murray beamed at Brady, as if he were one of his own, and tugged at his cap, speaking the name screen-printed on the front. “Eddie Vedder, huh? He’s also a good boy.

Before !  Bill Murray tees off at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Thursday afternoon.  By the end of the day, dozens of followers had shared memories of Bill Murray and created new ones.

Before ! Bill Murray tees off at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Thursday afternoon. By the end of the day, dozens of followers had shared memories of Bill Murray and created new ones.

Photo by Andrew Pridgen

The marshal received another message on the earpiece, and it was gone. Murray winked at the pair and returned to the starting box, although he never fully recovered from the interruption.

On the 18th, he cut his training in the trees on the right side. His second shot went straight across the fairway and into a drainage ditch.

Moments earlier, I was treated to a short walk and a chat with Murray’s little brother, Joel, himself no slouch, especially for us Freddy Rumsen fans. He too was following his brother like all of us.

“I know him pretty well, you might say,” he deadpanned. “There’s still a little mystery, though – we never shared a room.”

Then I did the one thing you always tell yourself not to do in these kinds of situations and asked him the question he’s been asked thousands of times as a professional little brother: what is it was like growing up with The Bill Murray?

“Well when you have nine kids under one roof and you’re competing for dad’s attention at the dinner table against Bill Murray and the guy who wrote Caddyshack [Brian Doyle-Murray, Bill and Joel’s older brother], well, it’s a decent competition,” Joel said. “I can tell Bill wants to keep life light when he can, and he does a great job of that. He’s always been interesting.

Joel stopped and admired the surroundings, marveling at the short-sleeved weather in early February at the edge of the continent. He admired a family of deer lying down for an early afternoon nap in a nearby meadow.

I asked him if he thought his brother had struggled, between playing golf in a PGA event and constantly having to interact with the crowd, and he very seriously pointed out what a piece of cake Pebble Beach was to me. asking if I would. never experienced Illinois winter in the 1960s, growing up in a large family that shared a single coat.

Actor Bill Murray stretches with the flag on the fifth green at Pebble Beach Golf Links during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament on Saturday Feb. 9, 2013 in Pebble Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg )

Actor Bill Murray stretches with the flag on the fifth green at Pebble Beach Golf Links during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament on Saturday Feb. 9, 2013 in Pebble Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg )

Eric Risberg/AP

So I brought the topic back to sports and growing up with Bill Murray, and Joel was kind enough to talk about the convent that was across the street from the house they grew up in – assuming that’s where Bill has perfected his little game.

“We could play on their pitch, but if you hit it badly you’ll chase it down the street for a quarter of a mile – which is a problem when you only have one ball,” he said. .

Around these roles, Bill Murray is known as much more than a golfer, even an actor. The stories from the devotees came at a faster rate than I had anticipated. Some of the craziest were mere asides, and some of the more benign were strictly confidential. Most were a mix of late-night shenanigans, sentimentality, and fun bits that are better relegated to family vacation get-togethers than a written record.

Plumb line through them all is a blind sequence of random acts of not just kindness but targeted philanthropy, from anonymous payment of medical bills to helping rescue a former municipal golf course from a bulldozer. promoter. Lots of beers handed to you at the ballgame by…wait, that’s it…or tabs picked up by the guy sitting at the bar who turned out to be…you guessed it.

It seems like Murray has the ability to be everywhere at once and, at the same time, disappear without warning. It’s, as a longtime friend and possibly former high school flame put it, “like a vacation in human form. It’s always been Billy — a break from reality.

This is also clear: he is polite, especially to young and old. He will answer you, and even if he does not appear immediately, he will be there at the right time. He will come to your house if you promise to cook Thai food for him. And then he will stay awake after 11 p.m. to listen to music with your children and to attack with your shih tzu. He’ll walk to your softball game and spin the best double play you’ve ever seen. He will go into costume and celebrate your wedding. Do you like his sneakers? Here, take them. How about a few bucks to go with it? Do you have a place to stay? Transport by taxi to the house? Let me take care of it.

Actor Bill Murray hits from the bunker during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament Celebrity Challenge Event at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif. on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/ Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Actor Bill Murray hits from the bunker during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament Celebrity Challenge Event at Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, Calif. on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2009. (AP Photo/ Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

“He’s a legend,” said Kirit Patel, a tournament volunteer. “But what he does is a little different for everyone.”

In 2017, his first year as a volunteer, Patel found himself at a private dinner hosted by Murray. It turned into a long night of storytelling, singing, dancing and even arm wrestling. “It was the most amazing night of my life.

“I work in a cubicle, and the following Monday I just put my stuff down and sat at my desk and was like, ‘Did this really happen? “”

After completing his round, Murray bade farewell to those who covered the distance and was whisked away in a courtesy shuttle. I had missed my moment this time, but I felt happier and lighter, my vacation to Bill Murray in the books.

Back at 17, I checked in with my new friends, the Wonhofs.

“Oh my God,” said Lee Wonhof, still shaking from the encounter and beaming at her son, “We will remember this forever.”

Then she turned to me, her cheeks still flushed. “He even said something nice about my hair, and I didn’t even have it done. Just an amazing guy.

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