Jordan Spieth is the headline player in this week's 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the PGA Tour. While he's not the highest-ranked player in the field (that's Matt Fitzpatrick), he's a former winner of the event, and he's an AT&T ambassador.
However, in years past, Dustin Johnson was often a co-headliner of the event with Spieth. Johnson would play with his now-father-in-law, Wayne Gretzky, in the pro-am component of the Clambake in a wholesome partnership that drew lots of eyeballs. Now, though, Johnson plays LIV Golf and isn't able -- and may not have the desire -- to compete on the PGA Tour, meaning he and the Great One are not at Pebble Beach this week.
Speaking ahead of the tournament on Wednesday, Spieth explained DJ was the player he missed most out on Tour of all the players who defected to the Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
"He's a Hall of Fame player," Spieth said. "Somebody who guys, people and the celebrities here really enjoyed being around. He was -- he's a freak athlete that plays golf. He really loved this event. Loved playing with Wayne. We had a blast. I know that because we had a blast with him for, what, eight years I think we played with them. Eight or nine we played together."
Spieth said his long-running pro-am partner, country singer Jake Owen, really took to playing with DJ.
"I was always interested in the D.J. and Jake banter," he said. "It was always really fun for me. He was more interested in asking D.J. questions than me. And like D.J. would kind of fire back, you know. There was some good banter between them. Certainly I miss that. Doc or Wayne, you know, his playing here, we would always have a good match with them every time.
"So me and D.J. wouldn't really talk smack to each other because we were both playing in the tournament. And Wayne wasn't going to do it to me. So it was kind of a Jake and D.J. back and forth within our match."
It wasn't just the banter that Spieth enjoyed about DJ at the Clambake. He marveled at his peer's abilities, too.
"Sometimes it was, you know, awfully close to when D.J. was actually hitting or as he was about to hit. He hit so fast that, he hits so fast that it would surprise Jake and even me sometimes," he said.
But, the reality is that DJ isn't coming back to the PGA Tour anytime soon, and that's created a fracture in their relationship where -- with Spieth living in Texas and DJ living in Florida -- they don't see each other.
"If you're talking about in general and not just this event, you know, I think there's a number of guys that are missed. But I think D.J. being maybe the first one to go over there and somebody who is not, never was really controversial over here and more so just kind of worked his butt off." He added, "Just a Hall of Fame player that didn't create controversy with any other players and played on a bunch of Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup teams. Represented 'em really well. He was a friend of mine. He is a friend of mine. I just haven't seen him."
Spieth added, "So, yeah, a lot of good memories, unfortunately, that we won't continue here with them. But we had a great time in our tenure with them."