Our golf expert brings you his preview and predictions for this week's PGA Tour event, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am - Winner
Amateurs are culled in this years Pebble event due to the pandemic and we play just two courses instead of the usual three. Spyglass Hill will be used for one round during Thursday and Friday with Pebble being used for the other three days. Many of viewers, including myself, will be absolutely delighted to watch this event without the circus of celebrities and hopefully we get a slightly tougher set up as the hosts don't need to accommodate the handicapped plebs. As ever, coastal track form is a pointer as well as Poa Annua putting. Current weather forecast suggests relative calm on Thursday with winds getting worse as the week progresses peaking on Sunday. It looks like a chilly renewal of this event with a fair amount of wind so worth keeping in mind those who have performed well under these elements.
Dustin Johnson is absolutely dominating the game right now like no one else has in a long time and lines up 4/1 favourite on one of his most successful tracks. He won this back to back in 2009 and 2010 and has since posted five top 5 finishes. Add in the fact that he was slightly wet behind the ears when spurning his chance to win the US Open here leading heading into the final day and it's not hard to understand why he takes such a large chunk of the market. The last two years he has arrived off the back of a win and a runners up finish only to finish 32nd and 45th. That isn't so inspiring when looking at odds of 4/1 and although the removal of amateurs should help him this is probably a week to take him on at such a price.
Paul Casey at 20/1 (8 places)
Paul Casey is playing some of the best golf of his career and with Harrington in attendance this week I'm sure he'll be ready to go once again to impress the Ryder Captain. Casey has probably the strongest credentials to get picked should he not make the team but I fully expect him to get the job done on the worlds point list. He had plenty in hand when winning in Dubai a few weeks ago and backed that up with a solid top 15 finish in Saudi where he was one of ten golfers to shoot four rounds in the 60s. That makes 9 of his last 11 rounds in the 60s in all events and is showing composure rarely shown before. He was 8th here in 2018 before finishing runner up Mickelson the following year having led going into the final round. 64th last year wasn't the full story either as he was inside the top 20 before succumbing to a final round 81 in poor conditions. Casey enjoys the West Coast now and the colder conditions shouldn't be a bother. The price is about right but I think he is extremely likely to contend given the golf he has shown lately.
2pts each-way P.Casey 20/1 (1/5 8)
Will Zalatoris at 25/1 (8 places)
If Dustin doesn't oblige the quality of field in behind isn't of the same standard as it has been in recent weeks so this gives an opportunity for Will Zalatoris to gain his maiden victory. The San Francisco native is used to golf in these parts and although he lives in Texas nowadays is more likely to become a West Coast specialist throughout his career. 7th at the Farmers is a super warm up for this given it has Poa Annua greens also. Growing up in San Francisco he should be used to the conditions also. The 24 year old is a hot prospect and has taken to the big tour like one of Ken Brown's ducks to water. Top tens have come at the Farmers, Shriners, Corales and US Open. It has been a super start to his career and I expect him to continue to achieve early doors. On his only visit here on a sponsors exemption in 2018 he finished 68th. He did however post a first round 67 at Spyglass to finish 8th after the first round and after a second round 69 lay 13th at the halfway stage. This holds a big opportunity for the lad to break his duck.
2pts each-way W.Zalatoris 25/1 (1/5 8)
Max Homa at 50/1 (8 places)
Last week I mentioned that Max Homa plays well this time of year and I expect that trend to continue to Pebble this week. The Californian is used to golf on the West Coast and that is evident in his results. Putting is often the aspect that lets him down but it worth noting that Poa is his best surface statistically and we may just see the upturn on the greens this week needed to get into serious contention. He finished a respectable 42nd last week finishing 3rd in the field approaching the greens, but the putter and driver being the clubs that let him down. He has finished inside the top 15 here in his last two efforts and has gained over 8 strokes on the field over his last two rounds at Spyglass Hill. I'd hoped for a bigger price but he has shown how impressive he can be when winning at Quail Hollow and this is one of the more likelier venues.
1pt each-way M.Homa 50/1 (1/5 8)
Harold Varner at 80/1 (8 places)
Harold Varner opened his debut here last year with a 67 at Pebble Beach to lie inside the top ten only to eventually miss the cut after three rounds. Nevertheless his first round was a sign of what he can do and with three rounds at Pebble this year instead of the one he got last time he may be able to outplay his odds. Varner has been a nearly man on the tour for a while now contending on numerous occasions without getting over the line. He has three top 15 finishes in his last seven events and I believe the track here at Pebble should suit. Those recent performances have been littered with average putting stats too so I'm hoping he can make some progress this week and marry his solid long game lately to the greens. Even last week in Arizona he finished 13th losing strokes to the field on the greens. He finished 4th in strokes gained tee to green last week so clearly is hitting the ball well and just needs a few more putts to drop.
1pt each-way H.Varner 80/1 (1/5 8)
Padraig Harrington at 250/1 (8 places)
I mentioned Padraig Harrington on twitter last week and he figured for a short while during round one before missing the cut comfortably. That being said, 250/1 out there this week on what clearly is a much better set up for the Irishman just has to be taken. His best finish here is 7th back in 2012 where he lay second at the half way stage. He has a couple of more top 20s but I don't think the other venues that we normally play here have suited him all that well. He has come unstuck at Monterey in recent years but it is worth noting he has gained strokes on the field in 12 of his 13 rounds at Spyglass Hill. The wind looks set to blow and it could suit Harrington who has a host of wins on links tracks. The 3 rounds at Pebble and 1 at Spyglass could be a perfect set up for him and has a better chance than his odds suggest.
1pt each-way P.Harrington 250/1 (1/5 8)
Wyndham Clark at 70/1 (8 places)
Good putters have dominated this event down the years here and I'll look to have two solid performers from further down the market. First up Wyndham Clark has become a reliable sort on the greens and with Poa being his best surface he can make gains this week at Pebble. Clark was edged out recently in Bermuda being beaten by Brian Gay in a playoff and can hopefully put his best foot forward to contend here over the weekend again. His approach play is the part of his game that lets him down but he gained shots in that department last week and could go better this week.Good putters have dominated this event down the years here and I'll look to have two solid performers from further down the market. First up Wyndham Clark has become a reliable sort on the greens and with Poa being his best surface he can make gains this week at Pebble. Clark was edged out recently in Bermuda being beaten by Brian Gay in a playoff and can hopefully put his best foot forward to contend here over the weekend again. His approach play is the part of his game that lets him down but he gained shots in that department last week and could go better this week.
1pt each-way W.Clark 70/1 (1/5 8)
Maverick McNealy at 100/1 (6 places)
Another solid putter I want on board is Maverick McNealy. There is no denying the flat stick has gone a little cold lately but he is prone to some ridiculously good weeks on the greens and if he can manage one of those this week he is in with a shout. Most of his game has deserted him in the last few weeks but Pebble is a place where he can find comfort and hopefully his game again. His family used to own a mansion on Pebble Beach and his top 5 finish here last year shows just what we can do.
1pt each-way M.McNealy 100/1 (1/5 6)