Despite my headline selection Justin Thomas being beaten, it was actually satisfying to see Rickie Fowler win the Waste Management Phoenix Open at 22/1. His 5th PGA Tour victory and first trophy for almost 2 years was the emotional rollercoaster you almost expected when settling down to watch the Sunday action. Rickie is no expert closer and when he started to press the self-destruct button through the 11th and 12th holes it felt a lot like déjà-vu. But Fowler played the 15th nicely and when the very impressive Branden Grace hit his tee shot in the water at the drama-packed 17th, Rickie just had to hit the green on the driveable 17th which he did with aplomb. An emotional win and as ever a super Phoenix Open, which is always one of the highlights on the PGA Tour.
Before we talk the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing in the inevitable build-up to The Masters. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.
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. Later on this year, Pebble Beach will play host to the 2019 U.S. Open and a number of elite golfers are using the AT&T as a sighter for the 3rd Major Championship of this season. Tournament regulars Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Brandt Snedeker are joined by the likes of Tommy Fleetwood, Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Branden Grace and Matthew Fitzpatrick to form a good renewal of the AT&T.
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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 two additional courses. 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: 1; 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. 2018: 72.01 (+0.02), Rank 16 of 51 courses.
Spyglass Hill GC: Designer: Trent Jones Senior, 1966; Par: 72; Length: 6,960 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. 2018: 71.78 (-0.22), Rank 22 of 51 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. 2018: 70.06 (-0.94), Rank 38 of 51 courses.
Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for host course Pebble Beach and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen 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: 32 yards wide; 275:28; 300:27; 325:27; 350:26.
- Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:25; 350:24.
- TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:28; 325:27; 350:25.
- Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:32; 300:33; 325:37; 350:34.
- Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 53 yards wide; 275:58; 300:63; 325:58; 350:62.
- 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 hosts the 2019 U.S. Open in June – 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 classical, second-shot golf course. However given the preparations for June’s U.S. Open have already started, expect tougher rough in play for this AT&T renewal. Cut to 2 inches around the fairways, those who stray away markedly from tighter than standard fairway landing areas can expect deeper rough than standard.
The track is fairly unremarkable statistically unless the elements really close in. Fierce 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 (9th and 2nd hardest over the past 2 renewals for Scrambling outside of 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: 2018: Ted Potter Jnr (-17); 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 Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Kevin Kisner, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Tony Finau and Andrew Putnam.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the RSM Classic and DP World Tour Championship, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. 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) Matt Kuchar; 2) Chez Reavie / Kevin Streelman; 4) Ben Silverman; 5) Tommy Fleetwood; 6) Joel Dahmen; 7) Paul Casey / Adam Hadwin; 9) Dustin Johnson; 10) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Scott Langley; 12) Ryan Armour / Nate Lashley; 14) Fabian Gomez; 15) Tyler Duncan; 16) Vaughn Taylor; 17) Jason Day; 18) Ted Potter Jnr; 19) Rafa Cabrera-Bello; 20) Hank Lebioda.
- Greens in Regulation: 1) Dustin Johnson; 2) Martin Laird; 3) Matt Kuchar; 4) Tommy Fleetwood / Branden Grace / Shane Lowry; 7) Jason Kokrak; 8) J.B. Holmes; 9) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 10) Tony Finau; 11) Nate Lashley; 12) Charley Hoffman / Scott Piercy; 14) Corey Conners / Patrick Reed; 16) Jason Day; 17) Ernie Els; 18) Brice Garnett; 19) Talor Gooch / Brice Garnett; 20) Patrick Cantlay / Chez Reavie.
- Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Jason Day / Dustin Johnson; 3) Davis Love III / Jordan Spieth; 5) Shane Lowry; 6) David Hearn; 7) Matt Kuchar; 8) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 9) Curtis Luck; 10) Martin Piller; 11) Andrew Putnam; 12) Brian Gay / Kevin Kisner / Adam Scott; 15) Wyndham Clark; 16) Phil Mickelson; 17) Rafa Cabrera-Bello / Patrick Reed; 19) Dominic Bozzelli / Chez Reavie.
Winners & Prices: 2018: Potter Jnr 500/1; 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. Past 5 Renewals Average: 50/1; Overall Average: 172/1.
- 2018: Thursday: Sunny. High of 70. Wind WNW 5-10 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 74. Wind WNW 8-16 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 65. Wind NNW 12-22 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 64. Wind WNW 15-25 mph.
- 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. Conditions for the 2019 renewal of the AT&T Pebble Beach look very northern European in their nature. With temperatures reaching a maximum of 11 to 12 degrees Celsius across all 4 days and moderate winds expected across Friday and Sunday, conditions will not be easy. 48mm of rain fell across Saturday, Sunday and Monday, so also expect very soft conditions. Rain cannot be ruled out on Friday or Saturday as well.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 9 winners of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this classical test:
- 2018, Ted Potter Jnr (-17). 283 yards (67th), 76.4% fairways (19th), 73.6% greens in regulation (9th), 26’1″ proximity to hole (2nd), 68.4 % scrambling (19th), 1.64 putts per GIR (4th).
- 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 Average:
- Driving Distance: 38th, Driving Accuracy: 29th, Greens in Regulation: 6th, Proximity to Hole: 14th, Scrambling: 23rd, Putting Average 7th.
Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:
- 2018, Ted Potter Jnr (-17). SG Off the Tee: 15th, SG Approach: 19th, SG Around the Green: 25th, SG Tee to Green: 7th, SG Putting: 24th.
- 2017, Jordan Spieth (-19). SG Off the Tee: 45th, SG Approach: 12th, SG Around the Green: 33rd, SG Tee to Green: 22nd, SG Putting: 4th.
- 2016, Vaughn Taylor (-17). SG Off the Tee: 40th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 30th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 52nd.
Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:
- SG Off the Tee: 33rd, SG Approach: 11th, SG Around the Green: 29th, SG Tee to Green: 10th, SG Putting: 27th.
So let’s take a view from players as to how the 3 courses and tournament format affects play:
Ted Potter Jnr [on Pebble]: “I was just trying to take one shot at a time, pick a small target on the fairway, pick a small target on the middle of the green. I knew I had a couple shot lead going into the back nine, so I knew that they were going to have to make some birdies and the back nine’s tough, especially with the wind how it is right now. So I just wanted to give myself plenty of opportunities coming in. I just tried not to attack the pins, but give myself good 20-footers to have a chance to make birdie.“
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 63 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 9 AT&T Pebble Beach winners:
- 2018 – Ted Potter Jnr: Round 1: 24th, Round 2: 35th, Round 3: 1st.
- 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.
Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 9 AT&T Pebble Beach National winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:
- 2018 – Ted Potter Jnr: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 8 back, Round 3: Level.
- 2017 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: Level, Round 2: Level, Round 3: 6 ahead.
- 2016 – Vaughn Taylor: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 6 back.
- 2015 – Brandt Snedeker: Round 1: Level, Round 2: Level, Round 3: 1 back.
- 2014 – Jimmy Walker: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 6 ahead.
- 2013 – Brandt Snedeker: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: Level, Round 3: Level.
- 2012 – Phil Mickelson: Round 1: 9 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 6 back.
- 2011 – D.A. Points: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 2 back.
- 2010 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: Level, Round 2: Level, Round 3: Level.
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
- Ted Potter Jnr: 73rd Torrey/MC PGA West/MC Waialae/13th RSM Classic.
- Jordan Spieth: 9th TPC Scottsdale/3rd Waialae/3rd Kapalua/3rd World Challenge.
- Vaughn Taylor: MC Columbia/MC Sea Island/20th Sanderson/24th web.com 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 3 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. Spieth on the other hand in 2017 played Monterey when the weather was at its worst on the Thursday, although the full round was never completed.
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 both Taylor, in 2016, and Potter Jnr last year, playing Monterey on Saturday when wind conditions were gusting 20 mph.
As far as any bias goes, 3 of the past 6 winners have started on Monterey with the other 3 starting on the host course. The Monterey first situation needs to be stacked-up with the fact that many of the elite players play the Monterey-Spyglass-Pebble Beach course rota. Make of all of this what you will.
- 2018: Potter Jnr: Pebble 68, Spyglass 71, Monterey 62.
- 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:
- 9 – Dustin Johnson.
- 4 – Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker.
- 3 – Jimmy Walker.
- 2 – J.J. Henry, Hunter Mahan, Scott Piercy, Vijay Singh, Jordan Spieth.
- 1 – Aaron Baddeley, Sang-moon Bae, Jonas Blixt, Ben Crane, Bill Haas, James Hahn, Russell Knox, Matt Kuchar, Shane Lowry, Graeme McDowell, Sean O’Hair, D.A. Points, Patrick Reed, Ted Potter Jnr, Adam Scott, Scott Stallings, Steve Stricker, Chris Stroud, Vaughn Taylor, Nick Watney.
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 Jordan Spieth with Matt Gogel, Aaron Oberholser, Steve Lowery, D.A. Points, Vaughn Taylor and Ted Potter Jnr 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 – and in most cases quality vanquishes the lesser opposition, but in the case of Lowery, Points, Taylor and Potter Jnr, they defeated Vijay Singh, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson 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, 4 and 3 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. That link continued again with 500/1 shot Ted Potter Jnr. 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 in 2017. 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! Defending champion Ted Potter Jnr takes this to even more extremes, but look at his history and there are some West Coast positive results hidden away. 13th at Waialae (2012), 16th at Pebble Beach and 10th at Riviera (both in 2013).
My selections are as follows:
Branden Grace 1.5pt EW 35/1 with New customers: Bet £10 get £30 & 30 spins. 18+, T&Cs apply* (7 EW, 1/5 odds)
Taking a roadmap of Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson’s shared best courses seems to be a decent starting place when it comes to finding the AT&T Pebble Beach winner – after all, Johnson and Spieth have 3 wins and a further 9 top-10 finishes (I have included DJ at the 2010 U.S. Open) between them when it comes to Pebble Beach. Both are winners at Kapalua across 2013, 2016 and 2018. From a Majors venue perspective, Jordan clearly excels at Augusta, whereas Dustin Johnson has taken longer to get up to speed. There are very close ties to Chambers Bay which hosted the 2015 U.S. Open, where naturally Jordan profited from Dustin’s 72nd hole disaster. Another coastal (inland I know) course shouts from the rooftops with Dustin finishing 5th (2010) and 7th (2015) at Whistling Straits – naturally he led the 2010 tournament before another notorious closing hole demise. Jordan you may remember finished 2nd to a rampant Jason Day at Whistling Straits in 2015. Johnson’s only Major to date came at Oakmont in 2016 and naturally Spieth won the 2017 Open Championship at Royal Birkdale after coming very close to winning the Claret Jug at St Andrews in 2015 – a tournament where Jason Day also missed the play-off by a single shot and where Dustin Johnson led after 36 holes.
So based on this synopsis, South African Branden Grace makes lots of logical sense this week after his heroics at Scottsdale last week. The 2012 Dunhill Links Championship winner at the St Andrews hosted Pro-Am, Grace also has strong links to Johnson and Spieth across his relatively limited United States outings. 2015 saw Grace finish 4th at the Chambers Bay hosted U.S. Open and 3rd at the Whistling Straits hosted PGA Championship. Uncanny. Furthermore, 2016 saw Branden finish 5th on the Poa Annua greens at Oakmont and 2017 saw him shoot a Major Championship record low -9/62 on Saturday at Royal Birkdale before finishing 6th for his third top-6 Major finish by the coast.
A winner of the 2012 Volvo Golf Champions which was played on his home course at Fancourt Links in South Africa, Grace has always been the type who thrives on links-type assignments by the coast or on windswept golf courses. Consecutive wins at the 2015 and 2016 Qatar Masters – a tournament known for its positive links connections – Pebble expert Jason Day finished 2nd there in 2012. Grace is also a PGA Tour winner having won the 2016 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on the Atlantic coast, so winning in the United States is a known quantity for the World Number 40. His first appearance 12 months ago at Pebble Beach was interesting as 20th overall actually undersells his performance where he shot -8/280 across his 36 holes at Pebble Beach, which was 4th best in the field.
Branden was exceptional last week with new caddie Craig Connelly at TPC Scottsdale: 13th for Greens in Regulation, 8th for Strokes Gained Approach, and 6th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, it was tellingly the flat stick which warmed in Arizona as he finished 3rd for Distance of Putts Made and 6th for Putting Average. I’m a believer in staying with Grace when he’s hot and I think he will be a factor again this week at an assignment he will love. RESULT: T28
Matt Kuchar 2pts EW 25/1 with New customers: Bet £10 get £30 & 30 spins. 18+, T&Cs apply* (7 EW, 1/5 odds)
I also like Matt Kuchar this week on a course where he’s finished 6th at both the National Pro-Am and the 2010 U.S. Open. Like Grace, Kuchar also has results which are inextricably linked to DJ and Spieth: 3rd at Kapalua in 2010 works nicely alongside a further 3 top-9 finishes. 3rd (2012), 4th (2017) and 5th (2014) at Augusta National works nicely and highlights his love for a classical golf course, even though it’s ultimately too long for him. The same could be said for Chambers Bay where he was 12th in the 2015 U.S. Open and for Whistling Straits where, like Dustin Johnson, he made the top 10 across both the 2010 (10th) and 2015 (7th) PGA Championships, again on a true bombers course. Kuchar’s best U.S. Open result of 6th was here at Pebble Beach back in 2010 – a tournament which Johnson dominated until Sunday. And Jordan’s closest rival to the 2017 Birkdale Open Championship was of course Matt Kuchar, so those correlating performances links percolate nicely with Matt and his record across the West Coast links in well with recent winners here. Another positive is that he 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).
A superb wind player who’s finding greens for fun at the moment – he ranks 3rd in my 8-week Greens in Regulation tracker – Matt looks the type who could win the AT&T in very northern European conditions. At a 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 in conditions which will be relatively tough for a PGA Tour event. Season to date statistics of 5th for Bogey Avoidance and 13th for Birdie or Better Conversion highlight the high level Matt has played at across the Mayakoba, Sony Open and Phoenix Open where he’s finished 1st, 1st and 4th. It’s also worthy of mention that both Walker (2014) and Spieth (2017) won this after finishing 1st and 3rd respectively at the Waialae-hosted Sony Open. Predictor Model Number 1 selection. RESULT: T22
Phil Mickelson 2pts EW 25/1 with £/€20 risk-free bet** for new accounts, 18+, T&Cs apply (8 EW, 1/5 odds)
The other course specialist who really interests me at the top of the betting is Phil Mickelson. Available at 28/1 William Hill on first show (Monday) but already being nibbled away at, I think that Lefty is going to be a popular man this week. Phil has both the game and the desire to challenge this week at his beloved Pebble Beach Pro-Am tournament where he’s been champion three times across 2005, 2007 and 2012. Throw in a couple of runner-up finishes here in 2016 and 2018, a couple of 3rd places (2001 & 2004), 4th at the 2010 U.S. Open plus recent top 10 finishes in 2010 and 2011 and it’s 100% crystal clear that Phil holds Pebble in the highest of regard along with Augusta. Ultimately Phil is a true West Coast specialist as can be seen from his 2018 campaign in Arizona and California. 5th at TPC Scottsdale, 2nd here and 6th at Riviera were the precursor for his win at the WGC- Mexico Championship at Chapultepec – a course which sees Poa Annua featuring in the green complexes. Chapultepec also saw Dustin Johnson win the inaugural visit there in 2017.
2nd at his 2019 PGA Tour opener at PGA West was highly encouraging especially as he shot an incredible -12/60 in his 1st Round on a very soft golf course. 1 Eagle, 27 Birdies and only 4 Bogeys highlighted a player in rude health, especially as he ranked 8th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 9th for Strokes Gained on Approach, 2nd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 6th for Greens in Regulation and 4th for All-Round are numbers we have rarely seen in recent seasons. The enigma that is Phil Mickelson then arrived last week, where despite ultimately missing the cut, he still ranked 9th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green in Round 1 when shooting -3/68. But I think this week will suit far more at a soft AT&T set-up where the ability to score early and grind will be 100% critical. The 2013 Open Championship winner has tonnes of coastal golf credentials for this week and his current PGA Tour statistical mix of 15th for Bogey Avoidance, 5th for Birdie or Better Conversion and 4th for Putting Average makes lots of sense for the test at hand this week. RESULT: Winner
Kevin Kisner 1pt EW 80/1 with New customers: Bet £10 get £30 & 30 spins. 18+, T&Cs apply* (7 EW, 1/5 odds)
Kevin Kisner has the kind of heritage I’m looking for in an AT&T Pebble Beach contender. 6 appearances have gleaned 3 paycheques and paid results of 39th (2011), 64th (2014) and 10th (2017). An improving set of results and fascinatingly Kisner also won the 2013 Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational here, played across both Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill as well as Del Monte GC. To put that in perspective, 2011 AT&T winner D.A Points and 2014 winner Jimmy Walker featured at the Callaway Invitational, as have recent AT&T each-way placers such as James Hahn (3rd here in 2013), Nick Watney (2nd 2015), Jonas Blixt (3rd 2016), Kelly Kraft (2nd 2017) and Chez Reavie (2nd 2018). A decent angle that. But in Kisner we have a player who’s played at very high levels in his recent career. A 2-time PGA Tour winner across the 2015 RSM Classic and 2017 Dean & DeLuca Invitational, Kevin has also a catalogue of top results since the start of 2015. 2nd at the 2015 Players, 2nd at the 2015 WGC-HSBC Champions, 2nd at the 2017 Arnold Palmer Invitational, 3rd at the 2017 Tour Championship and 2nd at the 2018 WGC-Dell Matchplay. Big results at big tournaments. But at the classical Pebble Beach, where conditions look tricky this week, 12th at the 2015 U.S. Open (Pinehurst Number 2), 7th at the 2017 PGA Championship (Quail Hollow) and 2nd at last year’s Open Championship (Carnoustie), highlight a player who comes to the fore on stretching formats. Naturally Carnoustie was no cake walk, but Kisner has undoubted coastal heritage. Indeed he ranks joint 4th in my analysis when it comes to PGA Tour coastal results over the past 5 years, behind heads of the market in Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day. Improving form of 69(Waialae)-57(PGA West)-26(TPC Scottsdale) peaks my interest, especially as he shot a closing 68 in poor conditions at the Phoenix Open last week. RESULT: T28
Watch these tips on YouTube with Steve Bamford: Golf Betting System YouTube Channel
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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 08:15GMT 5.2.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.