This is not to rub it in to those of you smothered by 90-degree heat, but it does seem that it will be a raw, cold day when the 50th PGA Championship begins at Pebble Beach Thursday.

The temperatures here have been mostly in the 50s all week and few remember the last time the sun was seen in this lovely corner of the country.

Pebble Beach seems to be a links of many moods - and, mind you, this is a "links" and not a "golf course." The difference is that Pebble Beach is on Carmel Bay adjacent to the Pacific Ocean. A links is what the Royal and Ancient Club of St. Andrews, ruling body of golf in Great Britain, calls such seaside courses.

Pebble Beach, despite the connotation of luxury and aristocracy, is a public course. Few of the private clubs want the peasants tramping their hallowed fairways. The public courses don't mind.

Tom Watson says Pebble Beach is one of his favorite courses. "There is a great beauty here," he said. "My wife, Linda, and I like to drive along the Pacific Ocean. There is something wild and wonderful about Pebble Beach."

This is the favorite course of Jack Nicklaus. He won the U.S. Open at Pebble in 1972 and has taken the Crosby three times.

Nicklaus seemed grimmer than usual today but he always gets wound up the day before a major tournament. He was asked if Watson should be considered the "next Nicklaus."

"I don't know about the next Nicklaus," the master said. "I just hope that the next gcy who comes along will still have my name in the conversation. I enjoy the position I'm in."

Niklaus resignedly keeps answering questions on how he feels about losing challenges to Watson in the Masters and the British Open this year. Do you feel, he was asked, as Aristotle once said that you have "suffered undeserved misfortune?"

Nicklaus howled at that one. "Who's Aristotle?" he quipped. "But, seriously, in the not-too-distant future. I'll probably worry a lot more (about the man who will succeed him as No. 1) when I'm not in the position I am now. Losses in the Masters and the British Open had no relation to each other. What happens in one tournament shouldn't affect play in another. Nobody, especially me, likes to lose.

"But I'm not like Muhammad Ali who picks the next guy's he's going to fight. They keep throwing guys at me. I won my position the same way the guys coming up must win theirs. I went up against Arnold Palmer and the rest. I earned my place."

There seemed to be no rancor in Nicklaus today before he teed off for his practice round. He and Watson were on the putting green and they were jostling each other for position when their putts crossed. They were like a couple of frisky youngsters.

To folks on the Monterey Peninsula, the tournament has been a welcome respite from the gloom surrounding Northern California with its drought, its forest fires and severe water rationing.