AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am officials have confirmed they coveted Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel – a.k.a. Johnny Football – for the celebrity rotation for next month’s event. But, over the weekend, they denied having actually issued an invitation to the Texas A&M quarterback for their amateur field.
Meanwhile, a source close to Pebble Beach said the situation is a little more complicated than that.
And that same source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Global Golf Post that Tiger Woods is unlikely to be part of the professional field when the tournament starts Feb. 7.
Inviting Manziel, wrote Monterey Peninsula CEO Steve John in an e-mail to The Post, “actually was discussed amongst the Tournament committee but at that point the field was complete. I think he’ll get solid consideration in the future; I understand he’s got game.”
But the Pebble Beach source said strict NCAA regulations also contributed to the tournament’s decision to back off on Manziel. Apparently Manziel would have had to pay his own entry fee, typically close to $20,000 for amateurs, or run afoul of college sports’ governing body.
“Don’t know about NCAA rules,” John added. “But (that) sounds logical regarding the entry fee.”
As for Woods, who returned to the AT&T Pebble last year after a 10-year absence from the event, the source said if he decides not to play this year, it will not strengthen the nature of his relationship with AT&T. That company also serves as title sponsor of the AT&T National, a summer event hosted in the past by Woods and his foundation at Congressional Country Club near the nation’s capital.
Currently, Woods has listed only this week’s tournament at Abu Dhabi, the Farmers Insurance Open next week and the four majors as tournament commitments for 2013.
Asked if he expects Woods to play at Pebble, John replied, “No idea. We’d love to have to have him play again this year and haven’t heard a definite no.”
The Post has also learned that CBS Sports was extremely excited about Manziel playing at Pebble. The network televises the popular event and also has the broadcast rights to Southeastern Conference football. Manziel’s Texas A&M Aggies are members of the SEC.
“I can certainly understand interest from CBS,” added John. “He’s a great story.”