(Adds ticket sales in 10th paragraph.)
Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Skip McGee, the global head of investment banking at Barclays Plc, walked off the 18th hole at Pebble Beach Golf Links with a memory of a lifetime and an unrivaled experience for a non-professional sportsman -- playing a competitive round with both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
McGee, 52, played all four rounds of the Pebble Beach National Pro-Am tournament with Mickelson, who won the U.S. PGA Tour event for a fourth time by shooting an 8-under-par 64 in yesterday’s final round on California’s Monterey Peninsula.
Mickelson was paired in the final round with Woods, making McGee and Woods’s partner, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, the only amateur golfers ever to play a competitive round with both. While Romo is a professional athlete who regularly breaks par and has sought to qualify for the U.S. Open, McGee sports a 15-handicap more familiar to most weekend duffers.
“It was kind of like having three guys from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and they bring a guy from the middle school band up to play with them,” McGee said in an interview behind the grandstand at Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.
McGee, an oil and gas banker, was previously Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s head of investment banking. When U.K.- based Barclays bought parts of Lehman in 2008, McGee was tapped to run the merged division.
He plays his golf out of Houston Country Club and this year was his first visit to the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which features professionals playing with amateurs such as Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and comedians Bill Murray and George Lopez.
The chairman of Barclays’ Investment Banking Executive Committee, McGee said he’s occasionally played six holes in client-related events with Mickelson, who is sponsored by the bank. He’d never previously played a full round with the four- time major winner.
McGee said he was nervous when he found out his final-day group would include Woods, whose 71 PGA Tour wins include 14 major titles, the second-most in history. It was the 10th time Woods and Mickelson, whose 40 PGA Tour wins rank second among active players, played together on the last day of a tournament.
“I really spent a lot of time on the range in the morning working on tempo to keep from getting nervous, getting too fast and missing shots,” said McGee, who hit his approach shots from well behind his playing partners on most holes. “I knew everybody was here not to see me, so I didn’t want to hold up play. But, at the same time, I didn’t want to be so rushed that I shanked it or hit a grounder.”
Gallery of Thousands
McGee said both Mickelson and Woods helped put him at ease during the round, which was played before a gallery of thousands of fans. Steve John, chief executive officer of the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, which stages the tournament, said the presence of Mickelson and Woods prompted final-day ticket sales to almost hit the course maximum of 37,500.
It was a daunting experience for the banker who, on the par-4 10th hole, had to hit a fairway wood for his second shot with Woods standing 30 yards in front of him on the left side of the fairway and the ocean looming to the right.
“There’s a reason I’m a 15 handicap -- I miss shots,” McGee said. “I didn’t want to shank one and come close to hitting Tiger or his caddie.”
McGee said he talked about the economy, work and Mickelson’s golf course projects with his partner during the round, while Woods occasionally joked with him -- most notably after McGee’s popped-up tee shot on the par-3 12th hole.
Mickelson also helped him read several greens, including for a birdie attempt on the 17th hole, even though Mickelson was trying to put the finishing touches on his victory.
As a team, Mickelson and McGee finished 29-under par, six shots behind the winners in the pro-am portion of the event.
Padraig Harrington and his partner, Irish racehorse owner J.P. McManus, shared the team title with Brian Harman and Gregg Ontiveros, the chief executive officer of Group O, which has interests in packaging, logistics and marketing.
McGee said the opportunity to share in Mickelson’s victory and to be part of a dream group with the two best-known players in the game was an experience he’ll cherish.
“It was very unique and I’ll treasure it forever,” McGee said. “It’s something I’ll tell my grandkids about.”
--Editors: Dex McLuskey, Dan Baynes
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