Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tips

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Steve Bamford's Tips for the 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Follow Steve on twitter: @bamfordgolf

Another each-way return with 125/1 shot Chesson Hadley last week for the column, but again a case of what could have been. In Brian Harman, Jon Rahm and now Rickie Fowler we’ve had three 36-hole/54-hole leaders across the last 4 tournaments, but no winners and only a single each-way return! Golf betting can be a cruel mistress, but we move from the desert of Arizona to the beautiful Carmel Bay on the Pacific Coast for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, which is played across 3 courses, hoping for a change of luck this weekend.

Course Guide: The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is a full-field event played over 3 different courses to allow such a large field including amateur partners. The iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links is the host course and all competitors play the course once before the 54 hole cut is made. At this point, the best 25 Pro-Am teams play Sunday with the top 60 professionals also playing the final round. Spyglass Hill Golf Club and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club host the other 2 rounds of play. All courses are sub-7,000 yards in length, with the Shore Course playing as a rather unique Par 71 with three par-5s on the inward half making for a lopsided 34-37 course split. The courses are undoubtedly tricky with Spyglass invariably playing the hardest of the three, but in effect they only play as tough as the weather conditions dictate with in-form players always able to shoot low scores on the poa annua greens.

Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California: Designer: Neville and Grant 1919 with Connor and Palmer 2007; Course Type: Coastal, Classical; Par: 72; Length: 6,816 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 0; Fairways: Perennial Rye; Rough: Perennial Rye 2″; Greens: 3,500 sq.ft average Poa Annua; Tournament Stimp: 10.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 71.86 (-0.14), Difficulty Rank 24 of 49 courses. 2013: 71.41 (-0.59), Difficulty Rank 29 of 43 courses. 2014: 73.39 (+1.39), Rank 7 of 48 courses. 2015: 70.24 (-1.76), Rank 45 of 52 courses. 2016: 72.50 (+0.5), Rank 16 of 50 courses. 2017: 71.90 (-0.10), Rank 26 of 50 courses.

Spyglass Hill GC: Designer: Trent Jones Senior, 1966; Par: 72; Length: 6,953 yards; Greens: 5,000 sq.ft average Poa Annua; Tournament Stimp: 10ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 72.58 (+0.58), Difficulty Rank 18 of 49 courses. 2013: 72.64 (+0.64), Difficulty Rank 11 of 43 courses. 2014: 72.76 (+1.76), Rank 11 of 48 courses. 2015: 71.20 (-0.80), Rank 32 of 52 courses. 2016: 72.51 (+0.51), Rank 15 of 50 courses. 2017: 72.20 (+0.20), Rank 20 of 50 courses.

Monterey Peninsula CC – Shore Course. Designer: Baldock and Neville, 1959, with Strantz re-design 2003; Par: 71 (2014); Length: 6,958 yards (extended 2017); Greens: 7,000 sq. ft average Poa Annua grass; Stimpmeter: 11.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 69.88 (-0.12), Difficulty Rank 23 of 49 courses. 2013: 70.24 (+0.24), Difficulty Rank 21 of 43 courses. 2014: 71.25 (+0.25), Rank 22 of 48 courses. 2015: 68.94 (-2.06), Rank 50 of 52 courses. 2016: 70.70 (-0.30), Rank 25 of 50 courses. 2017: 71.26 (+0.26), Rank 19 of 50 courses.

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for host course Pebble Beach and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 41 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:34 350:30.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:30; 300:29; 325:29 350:29.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:25 350:23.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:30; 300:29; 325:29; 350:27.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:32; 300:33; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 54 yards wide; 275:58; 300:62; 325:57; 350:61.
  • Seaside Course: 250 yards from the tee: 39 yards wide; 275:38; 300:33; 325:29; 350:23.
  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:30; 300:26; 325:25; 350:24.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 28 yards wide; 275:27; 300:28; 325:28; 350:24.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:27; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.

Course Overview: There’s an undoubted link between Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines South Course. Yes, Pebble may be over 800 yards shorter than Torrey, but the courses share coastal locations and poa annua seeded greens. Green complexes also vary in size with the 5,800 sq.ft. average greens at Torrey a fortnight ago replaced by postage stamp sized 3,500 sq.ft. average greens at Pebble which are the smallest on Tour. Naturally though the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is played over a 3-course rota with Spyglass Hill GC and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula ably assisting the famous host course, which again hosts the 2019 U.S. Open – its seventh Major Championship. Spyglass and Monterey are similar to Pebble in the fact that they have real teeth if the weather is non-compliant. In tranquil conditions, all 3 courses are more than scoreable.

Wide off the tee, where even the most wayward of drivers can hit over 1 in 2 fairways, host course Pebble Beach is a second-shot classical golf course. The track is fairly unremarkable statistically unless the elements really close in. 2014-type conditions are unlikely this year, so instead we should see plenty of par breakers – but only for those who are comfortable on the poa annua greens. Key stats are that the green complexes at Pebble are traditionally some of the hardest to putt on from within 10 feet on the Tour. Miss the green and scrambling from distance becomes a real problem (2nd hardest last year for Scrambling > 30 yards), as does making par from Pebble’s notorious bunkers. All as ever depends on the elements this week with regards target scoring, but the nature of this being a Pro-Am dictates that this only becomes a stiff test when conditions are dour.

Winners: 2017: Jordan Spieth (-19); 2016: Vaughn Taylor (-17); 2015: Brandt Snedeker (-22); 2014: Jimmy Walker (-11); 2013: Brandt Snedeker (-19); 2012: Phil Mickelson (-17); 2011: D.A. Points (-15); 2010: Dustin Johnson (-16).

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Chesson Hadley, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Pat Perez, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed and Matt Kuchar.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to the Shriners Open / Turkish Airlines Open and includes PGA Tour and European Tour events, plus the Hero World Challenge. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Ken Duke; 2) Ryan Armour; 3) Chez Reavie; 4) K.J. Choi; 5) Pat Perez; 6) Kevin Kisner; 7) Paul Casey; 8) Patrick Cantlay; 9) Austin Cook / Billy Horschel / Colt Knost / Kevin Streelman / Brian Stuard; 14) Brice Garnett; 15) Brian Gay; 16) David Lingmerth; 17) Jon Rahm; 18) Bryson DeChambeau; 19) Vaughn Taylor; 20) Tyler Duncan / Ben Martin.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Jordan Spieth; 2) Kevin Streelman; 3) Billy Horschel; 4) Dustin Johnson; 5) Chez Reavie; 6) Kevin Kisner / Shane Lowry / Pat Perez; 9) Patrick Cantlay / Scott Piercy; 11) Matt Kuchar; 12) Bryson DeChambeau / Russell Knox; 14) Kevin Chappell; 15) Corey Conners / Rory McIlroy; 18) Branden Grace; 19) Jason Kokrak / Andrew Putnam; 20) Austin Cook / Charley Hoffman / Sam Ryder / Gary Woodland.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Dustin Johnson; 2) Padraig Harrington; 3) Phil Mickelson; 4) Jon Rahm; 5) Matt Kuchar; 6) Kevin Kisner; 7) Chris Stroud; 8) Rafael Cabrera-Bello; 9) James Hahn / Maverick McNealy; 11) Gary Woodland; 12) Dominic Bozzelli / Whee Kim / Vaughn Taylor; 15) Brian Gay / Peter Malnati; 17) Branden Grace; 18) David Lingmerth; 19) Austin Cook / Retief Goosen / Cody Gribble / Ben Martin / Pat Perez.

Winners & Prices: 2017: Spieth 9/1; 2016: Taylor 300/1; 2015: Snedeker 25/1; 2014: Walker 28/1; 2013: Snedeker 14/1; 2012: Mickelson 25/1; 2011: Points 80/1; 2010: Johnson 22/1; Average: 63/1. Past 4 Renewals Average: 91/1.

Historical Weather:

2017: Thursday: Mostly cloudy in the morning with moderate to heavy rainfall in the afternoon. Wind S 10-15 mph with gusts to 35 mph. Due to unplayable conditions, play was suspended at 1:34 PST. Friday: Rainy with a high of 60. Wind WSW 5-10 mph. The second round was suspended for the day due to fog at 4:21 p.m. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a high of 59. Wind NNW 10-15 mph. Sunday: Sunny with a high of 61. Wind NW 5-10 mph.

2016: Thursday: Sunny, and warm with a high of 75 degrees. Wind W 5-10 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy with a high of 64 degrees. Wind NW 7-12 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a high of 63 degrees. Wind WNW 10-15 mph, gusting to 20 mph. Due to fog, the start of round three was delayed 30 minutes. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 69. Wind NW 10-15 mph, gusting to 20 mph.

2015: Thursday: Partly cloudy with a high of 76. Wind SW at 7-12 mph. Friday: Cloudy, with a high of 60. E wind at 5-10 mph with periods of light showers throughout the day. Saturday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 57. Wind light and variable. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 68. Wind WSW at 6-8 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Pebble Beach, California is here. Some rain (110mm) in January will leave the course in a lush state, but with no rain forecast for tournament week expect conditions which are faster than 12 months ago. Light wind looks a feature throughout apart from Saturday afternoon, where winds up to 20mph will cause a few problems on the host course for the marquee TV groups.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 8 winners of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:

  • 2017, Jordan Spieth (-19). 284 yards (26th), 78.2% fairways (14th), 79.2% greens in regulation (3rd), 27’11” proximity to hole (10th), 73.3 % scrambling (8th), 1.67 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2016, Vaughn Taylor (-17). 289 yards (40th), 69.1% fairways (38th), 75.0% greens in regulation (2nd), 25’3″ proximity to hole (3rd), 55.6 % scrambling (60th), 1.56 putts per GIR (3rd).
  • 2015, Brandt Snedeker (-22). 284 yards (48th), 70.9% fairways (38th), 81.9% greens in regulation (3rd), 27’11” proximity to hole (24th), 92.3 % scrambling (1st), 1.68 putts per GIR (16th).
  • 2014, Jimmy Walker (-11). 282 yards (22nd), 56.4% fairways (59th), 70.8% greens in regulation (6th), 35’6″ proximity to hole (26th), 81.0 % scrambling (2nd), 1.75 putts per GIR (14th).
  • 2013, Brandt Snedeker (-19). 277 yards (41st), 78.2% fairways (14th), 77.8% greens in regulation (6th), 27’10” proximity to hole (19th), 75.0% scrambling (6th), 1.64 putts per GIR (6th).
  • 2012, Phil Mickelson (-17). 273 yards (58th), 61.8% fairways (62nd), 75.0% greens in regulation (5th), 29’1″ proximity to hole (11th), 77.8% scrambling (2nd), 1.67 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2011, D.A. Points (-15). 286 yards (40th), 80.4% fairways (9th), 69.4% greens in regulation (19th), 30’11” proximity to hole (15th), 50.0% scrambling (47th), 1.60 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2010, Dustin Johnson (-16). 303 yards (1st), 75.0% fairways (15th), 80.6% greens in regulation (3rd), N/A proximity to hole, 35.7% scrambling (64th), 1.65 putts per GIR (7th).

Tournament Skill Averages:

  • Driving Distance: 35th, Driving Accuracy: 31st, Greens in Regulation: 6th, Proximity to Hole: 15th, Scrambling: 23rd, Putting Average 7th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how the 3 courses and tournament format affects play:

Jordan Spieth [on Pebble]: “Yeah, on this type of poa annua, it’s still going to be very soft and spinny. Even on this course I was hitting low 9-irons or 8-irons and they were coming backwards a few feet. Normally those skip five yards forward. So it’s very difficult to throw the ball with a lot of extra club and hit it low and land it back by the pin. It’s difficult to do because we almost never have to do it. So, very rarely do we actually practice it or can trust it in a tournament setting. Holes like number 4 today, when you’ve got to hit an 85 yard shot and you got to hit a gap wedge and fly it 85 when it’s normally just a perfect number for a 630 degree, it’s just an abnormal thing for us to do and to get our brains wrapped around. That’s going to stay that way. The course isn’t going to change much tomorrow, in my opinion. It’s just not getting hot enough, it’s still too early. But, yeah, so it will be kind of dart throwing contest again and who can make the putts. And Sneds has won here I think twice and I think we’re playing with him. He’s going to be somebody who can very easily, I mean, I say very easily, but he’s somebody who can go out there and shoot 7-, 8-under tomorrow. So, I’ve got to set a goal and stay real patient, try not to make many mistakes, hit a lot of greens in regulation.

Justin Rose [on Spyglass]: “That was actually my first look at Spyglass. I came out here the other day and went around a couple of holes checking it out, but I picked the wrong one not to play, because it’s a pretty tough course. There’s some strong holes on it. And I heard some strange reports about Spyglass, like the first few holes are great then it disappears into the hills and it’s not that good. That’s not what I saw. That’s a pretty stellar golf course to me and really enjoyed playing it. All the courses in the rotation have impressed me this year.

Justin Rose [on Monterrey Peninsula]: “The greens aren’t as good here. They’re bouncing a little bit, but they’re also really quick. So kind of quick and bouncy. My last hole of the day I had a beautiful 6-iron in to about seven feet and had maybe a 6, 8 inch break in it. I knew I was trying to lag it and I missed low and suddenly had four feet coming back up the hill. So there was some very awkward putts out there today. But the putts are makeable, but also if you’re not seeing them go in early, it’s the one course that maybe gets in your head a little bit. But the greens at Spyglass and Pebble are a little firmer and they’re rolling really well. I think I need to learn Pebble a bit more, a bit better. This is the course that probably gave me more trouble than the other two. That’s why it’s a U.S. Open venue, because it’s got some subtleties to it. But I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the whole week, the courses are in great shape the weather was perfect.

Brandt Snedeker: “I love the greens here, I love the golf courses, the greens are poa annua, which I’m a big fan of. And I love the format. I have played the last four years with a good friend. To come out here and play these golf course, this year, you’re not going to get a better conditioned golf course, perfect weather, everything has been ideal and there’s not a better place to be in the country right now than right here and this tournament. So I have a lot of fun when I come out here and it’s a fun feeling when you’re playing good out on the West Coast.

Jordan Spieth: “I enjoy the pro am part of it. Even though it’s a long round, we get good food, it’s a nice change of pace, good food, you’re kind of laughing down the fairways. It’s like you’re playing around on the weekend. Some guys don’t like the pace of play or a lot of guys just don’t like poa annua greens, guys that grew up on Bermuda grew up in the south or even guys that grew up in the northeast are used to primarily bent grass or Bermuda grass and they, three different golf courses all with poa annua that maybe they think putt a little different. It’s just a tough adjustment when you get in Monday night or something to try and get to know the places that week really quickly. Whether it’s that, whether it’s the changing around a few golf courses or it’s the slow rounds, not sure. I certainly really like this golf course and a lot of the legends of the game have liked these courses.

Jimmy Walker: “I don’t mind the format. The format’s great. I’ve enjoyed all my partners I’ve ever had here. I think everybody that’s here is a good person. I’ve had some good players. We have done well in the past team wise, too. So, you know the rounds are going to be a little longer. But there’s no better place to hang out on a golf course for five and a half, six hours if the weather’s good it’s really nice. If it’s bad it’s a little dicey, but I think it’s a cool format. I enjoy playing golf with friends at home and I’ve made some pretty good friends out here doing the pro am stuff. You just got to get over the fact that it’s going to take awhile. A lot of guys don’t like it.

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 8 AT&T Pebble National winners:

  • 2017 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2016 – Vaughn Taylor: Round 1: 48th, Round 2: 18th, Round 3: 8th.
  • 2015 – Brandt Snedeker: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2014 – Jimmy Walker: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2013 – Brandt Snedeker: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2012 – Phil Mickelson: Round 1: 59th, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2011 – D.A. Points: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2010 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 1st, Round 2 1st, Round 3: 1st.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Jordan Spieth: 9th TPC Scottsdale/3rd Waialae/3rd Kapalua/3rd World Challenge.
  • Vaughn Taylor: MC Columbia/MC Sea Island/20th Sanderson/24th TC.
  • Brandt Snedeker: 19th Torrey/10th TPC Scottsdale/MC PGA West/10th HSBC.
  • Jimmy Walker: MC Torrey/1st Waialae/21st Kapalua/46th HSBC.
  • Brandt Snedeker: 2nd TPC Scottsdale/2nd Torrey/23rd PGA West/3rd Kapalua.
  • Phil Mickelson: 26th TPC Scottsdale/MC Torrey/49th PGA West.
  • D.A. Points: 22nd TPC Scottsdale/8th Torrey/42nd PGA West.
  • Dustin Johnson: 3rd Riviera/MC Torrey/16th Waialae/16th Kapalua.

As a three course Pro-Am, it’s well worth looking at the course rotation to see if there’s any draw bias. Since Monterey Peninsula was added to the tournament course rota for the 2013 renewal, traditionally it has played by far the easiest course – 4 par 5’s on a par-71 format clearly helps. In calm conditions across both 2013 and 2015, Snedeker took advantage of Monterey in Round 1 to set up his challenge. However in breezy conditions, both Pebble Beach and Spyglass become far more of a challenge – Walker avoided both of them when bad conditions hit on the Saturday back in 2014, with Taylor, in 2016, playing Monterey on Saturday when wind conditions were gusting 20 mph.

2017 though saw changes to the natural order. An additional 89 yards on Monterey’s Shore Course helped to stiffen the challenge, with the result that it topped the scoring averages from Spyglass Hill, with Pebble Beach being the easiest of the 3 courses. Spieth played Monterey when the weather was at its worst on the Thursday. As far as any bias goes, 3 of the past 5 winners have started on Monterey with the other 2 starting on the host course. Make of that what you will.

  • 2017: Spieth: Monterey 68, Spyglass 65, Pebble 65.
  • 2016: Taylor: Pebble 70, Spyglass 68, Monterey 67.
  • 2015: Snedeker: Monterey 64, Spyglass 67, Pebble 67.
  • 2014: Walker: Pebble 66, Spyglass 69, Monterey 67
  • 2013: Snedeker: Monterey 66, Spyglass 68, Pebble 68.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Poa Annua and Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 8 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson.
  • 3 – Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker.
  • 2 – J.J. Henry, Hunter Mahan, Scott Piercy, Vijay Singh, Jordan Spieth.
  • 1 – Aaron Baddeley, Sang-moon Bae, Jonas Blixt, Greg Chalmers, Ben Crane, James Hahn, Padraig Harrington, Billy Horschel, Russell Knox, Matt Kuchar, Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell, William McGirt, Sean O’Hair, D.A. Points, Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Scott Stallings, Steve Stricker, Chris Stroud, Vaughn Taylor, Nick Watney, Gary Woodland.

The Pebble Beach Pro-Am is always a memorable tournament although the coverage can be extremely painful to watch. Recent winners include Tiger Woods, Davis Love III (x2), Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson (x3), Dustin Johnson (x2), Jimmy Walker, Brandt Snedeker (x2) and defending champion Jordan Spieth with Matt Gogel, Aaron Oberholser, Steve Lowery, D.A. Points and Vaughn Taylor thrown in for good measure. My take on the tournament is that a number of elite players always seem to contend – as you’d expect, in most cases quality vanquishes the lesser opposition, but in the case of Lowery, Points and Taylor, they defeated Vijay Singh, Hunter Mahan and Phil Mickelson respectively to capture their career biggest tournament titles.

Experience at Pebble Beach is another key factor. Dustin Johnson’s win here in 2009 came on only his second appearance at the tournament, but his liking for the format was already plain to see as he’d finished 7th on debut the previous year. Johnson went on to defend his title in 2010 and since then players with 4, 16, 6, 6, 7, 8 and 4 previous appearances have triumphed. The specialist nature of golf here can be seen in the fact that every winner here since Aaron Oberholser (2006) had delivered a top 21 finish at Pebble prior to their victory. The close association with Torrey Pines can’t be overlooked either or the liking for the West Coast swing in general.

Taking that last statement a step further, going back to Dustin Johnson the 2009 and 2010 champion, he’d already finished 10th at Waialae, 12th at PGA West and 7th at Pebble Beach in his rookie season of 2008 before triumphing here in consecutive years. The 2010 victory came off a 3rd at Riviera. D.A. Points had a liking for Torrey Pines with 2 top-9 finishes and an 8th in San Diego prior to winning this. Phil Mickelson had won 17 times on the West Coast including 3 Pebble National titles. Brandt Snedeker had won at Torrey Pines and had a number of high West Coast finishes across Kapalua, PGA West, TPC Scottsdale and a top 10 in the U.S. Open here, whilst Jordan Spieth had won at Kapalua and had finished 4th and 7th here prior to his victory here least year. Even Vaughn Taylor had captured both of his 2 PGA Tour titles at Montreux in Nevada and had a strong profile of finishes across Kapalua, PGA West, TPC Scottsdale and a top 10 here at Pebble Beach, although anyone picking him out to win this at 300/1 hopefully bought a lottery ticket the same week.

My selections are as follows:

Pat Perez 1.5pts EW 40/1 with Unibet

Pat Perez fits the bill perfectly this week. Rested after his sojourns to Singapore and Dubai where he didn’t disgrace himself with 21st and 29th place finishes respectively, the Scottsdale resident was practicing hard over the weekend at the National course on the other side of town to the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Perez has clearly targeted the AT&T at Pebble Beach as his record here is first-class. 13 cuts from 15 appearances isn’t too shabby and Pat finished 2nd here back in 2002 on tournament debut. 7th (2014), 4th (2015) and 14th last year suggests that he’s a player who’s happy with the tournament. A winner at the 2009 Bob Hope Classic also highlights a player who’s happy in pro-am formats and the World Number 19 is playing some solid stuff right now.

A winner of the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, 5th at the CJ Cup in South Korea and 3rd at the QBE Shoot-Out marked Perez as a form player at the end of 2017 and 4th at the Sentry Tournament of Champions on his last PGA Tour outing again is standout. His PGA Tour coastal record has always been strong with his 2016 win at El Camaleon also backed-up by a further 3rd (2017) at Kapalua, 4th (2008), 9th (2013) and 8th (2014) at Waialae, 6th (2011) at Harbour Town and critically 6th (2005), 2nd (2014) and 4th (2017) at Torrey Pines.

I’m also buoyed for the chances of Pat this week on the basis that he’s clearly thinking longer-term towards qualifying for the Ryder Cup this year. Asked in Dubai about the Ryder Cup qualification he answered, “I won in Malaysia and I finished fifth in Korea and I didn’t get any points for the American side. That kind of upset me a little bit; the fact that I’m 13 on the list, but I should be probably 3 or 4. So it kind of put a bitter taste in my mouth; the fact that you win on the PGA TOUR and you beat some good players, and yet you don’t get any points because of whatever our committee has decided to do. So that upset me a little bit.” Current form, course form and motivation could be converging nicely. RESULT: T35

Matt Kuchar 1.25pts EW 40/1 with Unibet

I also like Matt Kuchar this week on a course where he’s finished 6th across both the National Pro-Am and the 2010 U.S. Open. Yes he doesn’t win enough, but a 40/1 shot this week has a little juice within it and as Gary Woodland proved last week, short-term momentum can sometimes get these kind of players over the line. Matt shot -7/64 and -4/67 which jumped him up from 37th on Friday evening to have an outside shot at the title come Sunday afternoon. Driving it in the water on the 17th was hardly ideal, but when you look at the bigger picture his 5th place finish was his best ever on a course which is ultimately stacked against him a little too much. The same can’t be said for the 3-course rota this week, where power is negated and with momentum on his side I look to Kooch to be able to plot his way around here nicely. Last week’s 18th for Greens in Regulation and first for both Strokes Gained Putting and Putting Average will more often that not get you in contention and as we know with Kuchar, once he starts to hit greens on a regular basis, his short-game is first class. His record across the West Coast links in well with recent winners here, as does his Augusta record which with a 3rd (2012), 8th (2013), 5th (2014) and 5th (2017) is often being overlooked. He also plays Poa Annua putting surfaces extremely well as his record both here and at The Barclays tournament highlights clearly – 1st Ridgewood (2010), 2nd Plainfield (2011) and 5th Ridgewood (2015). RESULT: T62

Chesson Hadley 1.25pts EW 50/1 with Coral

With a rather strong top 5 in the betting market, I wasn’t expecting to see anybody but one of those elite names topping this week’s predictor modelwhen I worked through the preferred variables. Course top 10s seems a pre-requisite. The ability to keep the card as clean as possible is always overlooked in a birdie fest, but naturally the ability to make red numbers is also a key factor. Recent winners here bar Vaughn Taylor (he was 300/1) have all been hitting a strong amount of greens in their previous immediate outing and you need to be able to scramble well here from the ryegrass rough. Above all though this test is about putting ability – the likes of Mickelson, Johnson, Snedeker and Spieth all being top-class putters. So when I saw that Chesson Hadley topped the predictor I was more than a little surprised, but think it through and since the start of the 2017/18 PGA Tour season the Raleigh, North Carolina resident is Mr Consistency. 3 top-5 finishes across the low-grade Silverado, Jackson and TPC Summerlin tournaments at the close of 2017 came off the back of exceptional and Playoff campaigns. But Hadley has continued to play well in 2018 as well. 23rd at Torrey Pines was his best ever finish on a course which is ultimately a little too power-based for him and the same could be said for TPC Scottsdale last week where he finished 5th for us at 125/1.

3rd for Greens in Regulation at Torrey Pines and 5th for Strokes Gained Approach at the Waste Management is music to my ears and Hadley features in the top 25 of my rolling 10-week Putting Average tracker and sits 37th in Strokes Gained Putting for the season. 25th for Bogey Avoidance, 15th for Birdie or Better Conversion, 4th for Scoring Average and top 90 for Scrambling from the Rough are also statistics that I can get on with very well for this test. A winner by the coast in Puerto Rico in 2014, Hadley also loves this stretch of Pacific coast finishing 10th here in both 2014 and 2015, plus he also finished 2nd in the 2013 Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational. Comfortable on these poa annua greens, I can see him continuing the momentum this week at a nice price. RESULT: T35

James Hahn 1pt EW 80/1 with Betfair

I like the look of James Hahn this week who’s been playing some great stuff on the West Coast and who has course form to boot. A player who can blow ice-cold, finding season-long statistics to back up any thoughts on him is nigh on impossible, but despite 3 relative poor outings in the autumn Hahn still ranks 49th for Birdie or Better Conversion, 29th for Strokes Gained Approach and 46th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green. What’s really caught my eye though is Hahn’s recent putting form which sees him sitting 9th in my rolling 10-week Putting Average tracker. Rounds of -5/65 and a closing -8/62 powered Hahn into a play-off in last month’s Sony Open where he was outlasted by Patton Kizzire. Last week on a home Scottsdale track that he likes, James finished 11th with -4/67 and -5/66 rounds across Friday and Saturday powering the Californian through the mid-pack. 11th for Greens in Regulation and 9th for Strokes Gained Putting is a strong combination on any course and Hahn now finds himself arriving at Pebble Beach where he has a little history. 6th at the 2012 Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational, he also finished 3rd here in his rookie 2013 PGA Tour season where he led after 54 holes. Confident with the putter right now, we know that Hahn can win on the classical courses like Riviera and Quail Hollow. He also has a great reason to be motivated this week: Hahn struggles in Florida, so at Number 60 in the OWGR, if he wants to get into The Masters it’s pretty much now or Riviera next week. RESULT: T26

Tom Hoge 0.5pt EW 200/1 with Coral

A flyer on Tom Hoge is also recommended. Shocks happen here on quite a regular basis, despite some of the very best players in the world playing the AT&T. For every Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson or Jordan Spieth, there’s a Steve Lowery, D.A. Points or Vaughn Taylor. Even 12 months ago, Kelly Kraft popped up at 300/1 and finished runner-up to Spieth, outscoring his playing partner World Number 3 (at the time) Dustin Johnson in the final round. If there’s one long-shot which jumps out to be backed this week it’s North Carolinian Hoge (pronounced Hoagie), who’s quietly establishing himself on Tour. A winner on the Canadian Tour and 2nd in the 2013 BMW Charity Pro-Am on the Tour, Tom scored his first recognised finish on the PGA Tour with a 5th at the classical Glen Abbey in 2015, which featured Poa Annua within the putting surfaces. 4th at Montreux (again features Poa Annua) in 2017 also interests as Vaughn Taylor is a 2-time winner there. But it’s Hoge’s form this season which jumps from the page. 7th at TPC Summerlin was the pre-cursor to the Sony Open where the 28 year-old shot 65-65-64 to lead after 54 holes. Ultimately a double bogey on the 16th on Sunday cost him his maiden title. 12th at Torrey Pines 2 weeks ago featured a closing -2/70 which was tied-3rd in the field and Hoge ticks plenty of boxes statistically with 37th in Bogey Avoidance, 14th in Stokes Gained on Approach, 42nd in Scrambling from the Rough, 39th in Putting Average and 22nd in Putting from Outside 25 feet (last year) looking a strong mix for Pebble Beach.  RESULT: MC

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 08:55GMT 6.2.18 but naturally subject to fluctuation.

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