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Course jester

Final round for Allred is less about golf, more a comedic routine with funnyman Murray

Editor's note: Sports Editor Tim Trower is following Ashland native Jason Allred at this week's AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. ' The players' shuttle pulled through the main complex of Pebble Beach Golf Links. On the other side of the lodge was the 18th hole, where Phil Mickelson was wrapping up a wire-to-wire victory in the AT&T National Pro-Am.

Jason Allred, in the van's middle bench seat, shook his head.

It's weird, said the PGA Tour rookie, that on the other side of the course there's a serious golf tournament going on.

— Indeed, Allred showed up for golf and a six-hour comedy routine broke out. That's what happens when you get paired with Bill Murray, long the clown prince of this event.

It started from the moment the players were introduced on their first hole, the 10th. Allred's name rang out and was greeted by cheers.

Those are Jason's wives, Murray, in apparent seriousness, told the crowd.

Then popular TV host Carson Daly, Allred's amateur partner in the team competition, was presented, eliciting more cheers.

Those are Jason's wives, Murray deadpanned again.

On it went. And went. And went.

Murray is associated with a furry animal, the gopher from Caddyshack. On this occasion, he resembled the Energizer Bunny.

He harangued his playing partners. He teased the fans. He shredded a TV reporter who stopped him in the middle of the round and asked what he thought to be amateurish questions. He collapsed on the 18th green in mock astonishment. He was visibly amused by a fan ' from Ashland, it turns out ' who rolled in the mud, did the gopher dance made famous by the movie rodent, then was kicked out.

He autographed. He hugged. He hogged the show.

And somewhere they played golf.

I didn't know what to expect, said Allred, who, along with Daly, finished in fifth place, six shots behind winning pro Joel Kribel and partner Barry McCollam and one shot behind Murray and his partner, Scott Simpson. It was a blast. You expect him to always be funny, and it's amazing he's able to pull it off.

That was evident early. Murray did things that, if done by others, might not seem humorous. But when you have it, something as simple as drawing a breath can be ticklish to funny bones.

Allred had said earlier in the week he'd enjoyed this tournament for years because of Murray's antics.

Shortly after learning of the pairing Saturday, he heard from his younger brother, Kyle.

He was almost in tears he was so happy, said Allred.

On the golf end of things, Allred hit the ball straighter than he had in the tournament proper, and he and Daly were 5 under par through the first nine and seemingly making a move.

On the 18th hole, in fact, it was clear Allred wasn't getting caught up in the sideshow when he crushed a drive on the par 5 but didn't risk going for the green in two. He instead played a safe iron, chipped on in three and sank the putt for birdie.

But consecutive bogeys on holes 3, 4 and 5 ruined their chances of contending.

I kind of left my amateur by himself there, said Allred. I definitely didn't have my best game this week.

Murray's presence made it easy to forget wayward shots and errant putts.

On his first hole, he used a wedge to shake hands with an older woman, then asked her to rub it and warm it up.

On the second hole, a man had his dog on a leash.

Get that dog out of here, Murray barked. Then he laughed, ambled over and petted the puppy.

Every hole was a stage, every shot was one-liner material.

Many people this week have oohed and awed over Allred's length off the tee. When he grunted upon impact at No. 14, a 572-yard par 5, it was if he put honey out for a bear.

Nice drive, Serena, said Murray, referring to tennis player Serena Williams, who doesn't play in silence.

Later in the round, when Allred pounded another drive, Murray stayed with the theme and praised, You're much stronger than your sister, Venus.

Someone offered Murray coffee, but he said he wanted the hard stuff.

In the drizzly, breezy morning, he spotted a shuddering woman in shorts and empathized, That's how I left the house this morning, too.

It was at No. 15 that things heated up.

Aaron Cate, a friend of the Allreds, peeled off his shirt, found a perfectly muddy landing area and got down and dirty. Then, after shouting to get Murray's attention, began gyrating. Biggest gopher you ever saw. The only thing missing was Kenny Loggins' song, I'm All Right.

Murray, at first stunned, broke out in laughter. Daly, too. And Allred. And Simpson.

After Cate did one more somersault into the mud, he put his shirt back on and stepped aside. The plan hatched the night before to do something crazy for Murray was a successful.

It was just crazy enough to have him escorted from the grounds in handcuffs. Cate wasn't held or ticketed, said friends, and watched the rest of the tournament on TV.

At the end of the round, when Allred told Murray of the outcome, the comedian was upset.

That was the most outrageous thing, he said of the Cate's skit. He didn't do anything violent. I thought it was funny. I thought it was harmless fun.

It didn't take long for that incident to be forgotten. Murray works too fast for attention to loiter.

At No. 16, which was close enough to the course's epicenter that a sizable audience had gathered to ring the green, Allred was about to chip onto the par-4 green from the right rough.

Murray zeroed in.

Jason, where are you from? Murray asked innocently.

Ashland, Ore., came the reply.

Jason Allred, from Ashland, Ore., Murray repeated loudly.

Then, quiet again, Murray asked, Where do you live now?

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Jason now lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., Murray bellowed.

As Allred continued to prepare, Murray continued to pepper.

He told the fans Allred is married. Has been for a couple of years. No, they don't have kids. But yes, he told the world at about the same time Allred was starting his back swing, Jason's working on it.

Within seconds, Allred plopped the ball onto the green and was absolutely thrilled ' as was the duly primed crowd ' when it barreled into the hole. He whooped and hollered and got into a mock fencing duel with Murray.

When the noise subsided, Murray semiprivately gave Allred a thumbs-up, as if to say, Way to go, Kid, which he called him on more than one occasion.

Murray then made his short putt with his eyes closed.

I had a perfect lie, Allred said later. I've never been over a chip before and had somebody talking the whole time. I thought I might as well make the best of it.

At 18, their act went out over the airwaves for all to see. Allred and Murray were on the famed par 5 in regulation, each with reasonable birdie putts. Murray, who had already collapsed in disbelief when Simpson and Daly made their putts, stood behind Allred and started a loud, slow clap, and the large audience joined in.

Allred made the putt. Murray collapsed.

Then Murray lined up his putt, and the clapping grew louder and louder. Loving every bit of it, Murray responded by sinking his.

In a move orchestrated by Simpson and shown on national TV, Murray's three foils stole his stuff and fell backwards to the ground. The comedian then sprinted over and did likewise, to the delight of the throng.

When the group got to the No. — tee, Murray just had to ask the hundreds and hundreds of fans waiting there: Did you see my birdie on 18? Driver, 4-iron, 56 (degree wedge), he said, holding his arms out to indicate how close he was to the hole.

More jokes followed as the group followed the course's layout.

A boy in a Yankees hat wanted an autograph. Murray, a Cubs fan, gave it but first had the boy recite: I detest the Yankees. The Chicago Cubs are the supreme rulers of the world.

The boy tried.

Close enough, said Murray, handing him his signature.

At No. 5, a woman TV reporter from Fresno, Calif., ventured onto the tee and tried to interview Murray. It didn't go well, and before long the two were trading barbs. It ended soon enough, and she moved over to Daly, who was more cooperative.

At least he has class, the woman said so all could hear.

Can you believe her, Murray said, shaking his head.

But no sooner had another shot been played than attention was back on him and his shenanigans.

Four more holes worth.

The round didn't really end. The curtain came down.

He's a complete goof, but he really does love his golf, said Allred. He gets everyone's divots and fixes their ball marks. It's more with the crowds that he goes nuts.

It was really fun.

And somewhere they played golf.

Jason Allred, left, and Scott Simpson, center, laugh at something Bill Murray, right, said to the crowd on the 10th tee box on Sunday.