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How the actor got his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am partner

How the actor got his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am partner

Thirty years ago, the odd couple of comedian-actor Bill Murray and PGA Tour pro Scott Simpson joined forces to become an unforgettable duo at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Simpson, who is in his second year as men’s golf coach at University of Hawaii, recalled to Golfweek at the Sony Open in Hawaii the story of how their partnership came to fruition.

As Simpson tells it, Murray had played the previous year in the pro-am with journeyman pro John Adams.  Simpson remembers watching on TV Murray’s antics with the gallery and thinking they were hilarious, but when Adams was asked, ‘How is it playing with the fun-loving Murray, he complained that he found it distracting and wasn’t able to concentrate on his game.

“He said, ‘It’s really not much fun,’ or something like that,” Simpson recalled. “I went to the putting green after and Peter Jacobsen who played for years with actor Jack Lemmon, is there and I said to him, ‘Peter, can you imagine John Adams saying this isn’t fun? That’s the most fun you can have on the golf course, playing with Bill Murray.’ He goes, ‘Scott, you’ve got to play with him next year.’ My caddie was Jim Mackay, Bones – he caddied for me before Phil Mickelson. I taught him everything. He caddied for my buddy Larry Mize first – and Bones said, ‘You tell him you want to play with Murray next year.’ Actually, when Bones left me for Mickelson – which was great, you know. I was really happy for him to get this guy who’s so talented and going to do great things. He says, ‘But there’s one thing I want, one thing I’m going to ask you for, I want to caddie with your group with Bill Murray next year.’ Even though he was working for Phil, he caddied for me at Pebble.”

Jacobsen and Mackay talked Simpson into writing a letter to tournament officials requesting to play with Murray. On paper, it seemed like a mismatch with Simpson, a regular at weekly bible study meetings, considered to be too staid for Murray’s on-course schtick. But two weeks before the tournament the following year, officials asked Simpson if he still wanted to play with Murray.

“Absolutely,” Simpson said. “No one wanted to play with him, and I just thought, you know what, I don’t care what I shoot. This is going to be the most fun week in the world. I didn’t care. Because I get the front row seat. He would slice it over into the people and the people would start clapping because they knew he was coming…


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