She stared down Saddam Hussein, survived war room skirmishes with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, wrangled on CNN with Wolf Blitzer. She provided piano accompaniment for Yo-Yo Ma on Brahms' "Violin Sonata in D Minor."
This is a woman who eats pressure for breakfast.
But Condoleezza Rice may have never encountered anything quite as daunting as playing rounds of golf at Pebble Beach and Monterey Peninsula Country Club during the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
The nation's 66th secretary of state and national security adviser to President George W. Bush experienced all the highs and lows of being a 17-handicap golfer in a prestigious tournament, trying her best to keep the ball in the middle of the fairway — and away from her adoring fans.
As any hacker will confirm, that's easier said than done.
Her most memorable shot of the week, unfortunately, was a line drive into the gallery Thursday on No. 6 at Pebble, a shot that struck a female spectator between the eyes.
The skulling almost certainly put a damper on what otherwise appeared to be an enjoyable experience for Rice.
She had her moments — sinking a 30-foot putt on No. 2 at Pebble on Thursday was a highlight. But even with 17 free strokes on her scorecard, Rice wasn't much help to her pro partner, Jason Bohn. Together they finished 4-under par to tie for 124th place among the 156 teams.
Rice, now a political science professor at Stanford University, partnered both days with Bohn as one of only two female players in the 296-player field. Playing from the red tees with TaylorMade clubs, Rice hit some picturesque shots and some downright bummers.
A gaggle of about 20 friends followed her throughout Friday's round, cheering loudly when she hit a pretty shot (such as the booming drive she launched on No. 6) and groaning whenever she whacked a wormburner or missed an easy putt. At such times, Rice often got feedback from her caddie, Kathryn Imrie, an assistant women's golf coach at Stanford.
After a nearly outstanding drive on her final hole of the round — her ball on MPCC's par-3 ninth appeared to be headed for the pin before a cruel backspin dragged it back down the hill — she three-putted, rimming out with her final stroke of the day.
With that, the otherwise-sunny Rice revealed some visible frustration, taking a short, subtle slash through the cold ocean breeze with her putter before handing it to Imrie.
She also apparently wasn't in the mood to stand a few more minutes in the cold wind and speak with media members who had followed her for hours, exiting quickly in the opposite direction, where her courtesy shuttle awaited.
Though her game could have been better, Rice was clearly a favorite attraction in a star-studded celebrity field, reason to believe she may be invited back for another try in 2014.
Dennis Taylor can be reached at 646-4344 or email@example.com.