PGA TOUR PREVIEW: AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM
PGA TOUR PREVIEW: AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM – Well, I never had much in the hunt last week and our betting week was effectively over by the weekend. It was just a couple of small sprinkles on the longshots for me, so no major harm done.
This week used to be in the upper echelon of West Coast tournaments, but the field has gotten weaker with some of the scheduling changes over the last decade (including a LIV departure from Dustin Johnson). This week its basically, Fitzpatrick, Spieth, Hovland, and everyone else as far as the field goes.
This is another pro-am event, but it tends to draw more A-listers than the American Express Pro-Am in Palm Springs. All 156 professionals in the field will be paired with a celebrity (or a not-so-famous rich person) for the first three days of the tournament. I’m not going to go into the team aspect of this too much because it’s largely irrelevant for betting purposes, as we’re just focused on the individual tournament being held between the 156 professionals in the field.
There will be three courses played by every player for the first three rounds. Each player will have to play Pebble Beach, Monterey Peninsula, and Spyglass Hill. Then after the cut is made to the field after 54 holes, the players who remain will play their final round at Pebble Beach.
Pebble Beach is, by far, the most well-known of these courses because it’s often the host to major championships. It has a long history and is regularly listed as one of the top courses in the country. It’s not very long by Tour standards and should measure out at around 7,000 yards.
The major question with Pebble is how windy it will be as it’s right on the Northern California coast and is more exposed than the other two courses to the wind, making for more of a challenge on breezy days.
Monterey Peninsula Country Club typically rates out as the easiest of these courses. It’s probably going to be in the neighborhood of 6,900 yards. It’s a little bit unusual in that the course features five par 3s and four par 5s, but nothing huge to note from a handicapping perspective.
Spyglass Hill is the last course in the rotation that we’ll preview. I know it fairly well because my high school sat directly on the 18th tee and we’d often sneak onto the course to watch the tournament. I also played it quite a bit in high school because it was our “home” course.
Spyglass is probably the most difficult of the three when the weather is calm. It has a lot of elevation changes, has more trees and the greens are trickier those on the other courses.
If it’s breezy, then Pebble Beach is the toughest because it’s more exposed to the elements. The other courses are more inland and/or have more cover from trees on the course.
The weather looks to be pretty typical of the area. Probably pretty cold (think 45-55 degrees), but there doesn’t appear to be much of a threat of rain aside from small coastal showers.
What do you need to win?
This one is tricky because of the unique format with a three-course rotation, but we can see some things that tend to be true of guys who win here.
The first thing that the winner will need is patience. Because of the format, these rounds are very long. Sometimes up to six hours. Celebrities will be distracting, the crowds will be distracted by the celebrities, and the players who don’t let the circus-like elements of this tournament bother them tend to do well year-after-year.
Driving the ball isn’t particularly important here. Some of the fairways can be narrow at Spyglass and the threat of hitting one into the ocean at Pebble can present some anxiety, but by-and-large, you don’t need to be long or particularly straight to do well here. As long as a player isn’t hitting it totally off the map, they should be fine. The rough is cut down fairly low to accommodate the amateurs, so that’s not an issue for the pros.
What is important, tends to be short game. These courses have pretty small greens, particularly Pebble. These guys will miss greens, so it’s important to be handy with your short game to succeed here. It’s for that reason that someone like Fitzpatrick or Spieth towards the top of the board would be my preference if you insist on betting favorites. I’d probably steer clear of Hovland who had the worst short game on Tour last season. His numbers are better this year, but I’m not totally sold on all those issues being fixed.
Lastly, poa annua greens are typically unique to the West Coast. They often bloom midday which can make already bumby greens even bumpier. Certain guys tend to putt well on them, and others get flustered by the inconsistencies. It’s useful to find guys who have a good track record on that surface.
I’ll be back with some of my picks from deeper down the board in tomorrow’s column, so stay tuned for that
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