The PGA Tour season continues with the stars of golf mingling with household names from sport, screen and the wider world when the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am takes place over four days of slow paced action.
Three of the most picturesque courses on the west coast are used for this tournament which always generates a good field and this year is no different. Ted Potter Jr is the man who will be looking to defend the title.
2018 – Ted Potter Jr
2017 – Jordan Spieth
2016 – Vaughn Taylor
2015 – Brandt Snedeker
2014 – Jimmy Walker
2013 – Brandt Snedeker
2012 – Phil Mickelson
2011 – D.A. Points
2010 – Dustin Johnson
2009 – Dustin Johnson
Every professional in the tournament is paired up with an amateur player to play each of the three courses once over the first three rounds of the competition. Once those three rounds are completed the leading 60 pros and 25 pairings quality for Sunday with the tournament concluding over the delightful Pebble Beach course.
As ever we will be seeing three courses this week. They are Pebble Beach, Monterrey Peninsula and Spyglass Hill. Pebble and Spyglass are par 72s and Monterrey is a par 71 with three par 5s on the inward nine. They all measures less than 7,000 yards so are not overly demanding tracks on paper. It is only four months until Pebble Beach hosts the US Open so we can expect that course to play harder than usual in this event.
We are in for a low scoring week on three saturated golf courses which are expected to receive another drenching over the last three days of the event. Pebble will play harder from the tee but by and large the formula remains the same. Find the fairways and the greens and hole a lot of putts. The wind could get up over the weekend which might sort the men and the boys.
This is a blinding field for a tournament of this kind it must be said. The courses used are a reason for that but also it is an obvious preparation event for the US Open later in the year and a number of big names are taking advantage of that. Dustin Johnson sets the standard just five days after winning in Saudi Arabia.
Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Tony Finau and Patrick Reed are all household names teeing it up this week while Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar also have tee times looking for another win on the season. Tommy Fleetwood spearheads the European challenge while Adam Scott is another player teeing it up here. Paul Casey, Shane Lowry and Matthew Fitzpatrick will look to snatch the title too.
Dustin Johnson is the 11/2 favourite this week. He has won this tournament twice but you have to do back a good while for the last time he won it and his meltdown in the final round here last year doesn’t inspire confidence at such a short price. Throw in his schedule which saw him in Saudi Arabia last week and he is pretty easy to pass over even allowing for the fact that he is in good nick. He’s too short.
Jason Day will tee it up as a 9/1 shot to land a major blow in the tournament. In theory these courses should suit him strongly but there is something about the price which makes me think he is a little short. I would probably prefer him more if the conditions got very tough and if they do he’s a real runner but I’ll ignore him at this price.
Tony Finau is 20/1 to win this tournament as is former champion Jordan Spieth and Tommy Fleetwood. Finau’s strength is length off the tee and that is negated here so he is ignored. If we knew Spieth was beginning to putt well I’d be all over him but he has got to the stage where his slump needs to end before he is trusted again. Fleetwood is an interesting proposition. He could go very close in these conditions.
Phil Mickelson and Matt Kuchar have both won on the Tour this year and they are 25/1 to pick up another victory this week. I wouldn’t have Mickelson around here with the rough up a little at Pebble but given the links record of Kuchar he would have to be taken pretty seriously this week I would suggest. It is 28/1 bar.
Branden Grace has shown signs of coming back to form since the birth of his child. He was second last week in Phoenix and these conditions and courses should suit him down to the ground. The more the wind blows the more comfortable he will feel and as a winner of the Dunhill Links Championship over in Scotland in the past, we know he can cater for the relaxed attitude and slow paced nature of this tournament. I think last week has primed him up for a big assault on this title and he plays Pebble Beach first which looks to be a huge advantage based on the forecast. He’s my first main bet.
Brandt Snedeker is twice a winner around here and in conditions that are forecast this week I think he has to be part of the staking plan. We’ve seen at places like Torrey Pines that he can tame tough courses in the wind and there is no reason why he won’t do that here. There is clearly something about this tournament that he likes the look of and his good record in it should bring out his best game. He can be a leading player here too.
When the US Open was last staged here it was Graeme McDowell who won the tournament so I’ll play him this week in the hope that the toughened up test brings out the best in his game once again. He will be comfortable in the wind which is a positive and he plays Pebble Beach on the opening day which is expected to be another. Length isn’t important this week so if he can dial a few irons in and hole some putts he shouldn’t be too far away.
Jim Furyk is another player who should go well around here. He is fine in the wind and is one of the most accurate iron players on the PGA Tour. Furyk was in the top 10 in Mexico earlier in the season and with similar conditions expected here that has to be a bonus. Accuracy is Furyk’s strength and if he can fire at some flags in the soft conditions he should have the tools to go very close to landing the title here. He’s way too big at 150/1.
Another man who is too big is Ernie Els. Els has a couple of top 15s on the European Tour this season and should go well on these courses. He doesn’t need to pound it off the tee which is a positive and looks to be good with the irons at the minute. Small greens will negate his putting problems which is a huge positive. The more the wind blows the more comfortable he will be over many others. I’ve a sneaky feeling Els could get in the mix for us at 250/1.
Back B.Grace to win AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)
Back B.Snedeker to win AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)
Back G.McDowell to win AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)
Back J.Furyk to win AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)
Back E.Els to win AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 251.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)