Niall Lyons shares his golf betting tips and preview for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Pro-am duties take centre stage for the pros once again this week as the usual barrage of celebrities take to Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey. A difficult format for many but down the years we have had plenty of predictable results even at big prices to make this a welcome assignment for punters.
Strokes gained tee to green stats are often dominated by the longer hitters in the game but this week the same stat is of upmost importance but the door is wide open for those who usually struggle to make an impact in that area because of a lack of length. When Hoge won here last year he was 3rd from tee to green whilst runner up Spieth topped the same stat.
Berger was second tee to green the year he won whilst McNealy and Cantlay who finished in behind Berger made up the top three in that stat. Clearly strong approach play is the key to contending around these courses whilst a hot putter always helps around these poa annua surfaces.
Alex Smalley at 45/1 William Hill (Eight Places)
Alex Smalley went all the way to the BMW Championship in his maiden tour season last year and showed plenty of promise having marched onto the tour like veteran. His second and third PGA starts back in 2020 and 2021 were both top 25 finishes in Puntacana. Last season he finished 12th in Bermuda, 2nd in Puntacana and 10th at the Scottish Open.
The end of 2022 and the new season saw him once again go well in Bermuda finishing 11th then land two top five finishes at Houston and the RSM. That is an eye catching run of form on coastal tracks and he should relish his second effort here at Pebble this week. His ball striking game is tremendous and none more so was this evident at the American Express where he topped the approach play stats comfortably for the week.
His short game is more than capable of competing also and it's no surprise the bookmakers are lively enough to his chances. 45/1 could look a massive price for Smalley on coastal layouts in years to come and this has to be snapped up in the hope he adds Pebble to an increasing list of similar courses he has played well upon.
1.5pts each-way A.Smalley 45/1 (1/5 8)
Kurt Kitayama at 80/1 (Eight Places)
Spieth is made for this place but prices of around 8/1 make little appeal and I'd rather await a better opportunity to land the legend at bigger odds. Andrew Putnam looks the pick of the bunch towards the top of the market but it is difficult to get involved at 25/1 despite the obvious credentials he has here this week.
McCarthy at 40s looks the better option between the two given what he is capable of on the greens. Nevertheless it's difficult to get excited about any of the prices of the first handful in the market.
Kurt Kitayama's record in his home state doesn't make for pretty reading but given the history of spikes in his performance over the last 12 months he must be watched headed back home. Only a few starts ago Kurt Kitayama gave McIlroy a mighty scare in the CJ Cup ending up one shot shy of the Irishman. He can count himself very unlucky in 2022 in fact as two more runner up finishes in Scotland and Mexico were behind Xander Schauffele and Jon Rahm.
That is an indication of what Kitayama is capable of and although venues that play into the bombers hands certainly suit him more he should be more than capable of stringing together a performance here in California. He missed the cut on his second visit to Pebble last year but his maiden effort here back in 2020 resulted in a top 20 finish.
He's a much more complete golfer now than what he was then and if he can find some form on these greens he has the long game to compete with the favourites. Wins in Oman and Mauritius were by the coast and he should deal comfortably with any wind that may arise on Friday and Sunday.
1pt each-way K.Kitayama 80/1 (1/5 8)
Matthew NeSmith at 80/1 (Eight Places)
Matthew NeSmith may have missed the cut last week at Torrey but quotes of 80/1 and above seem a little generous for someone who should relish a return to courses where a tee to green game matters so much with little advantage in hitting the ball far off the tee. NeSmith excels on these types of layouts and the price drift is due to missing three cuts on the spin.
The first of those came last November in the RSM Classic where a really poor round with the driver put him behind the 8 ball. There was plenty to like about his missed cut at the Amex where an opening 3 over par round at La Quinta put him firmly out of the event only to rally over his final two rounds across the Nicklaus and Stadium courses to an 11 under par total.
Torrey isn't exactly a favourable venue for him and missing the cut there on the number is of little concern. He appears to be slightly overlooked by the bookies this week given his credentials for this type of test.
1pt each-way M.NeSmith 80/1 (1/5 8)
Greyson Sigg at 90/1 (Eight Places)
If a Californian associate doesn't win here this week it is likely to be a Georgian with experience by the coast and a likely candidate would be Greyson Sigg. Sigg has plenty of experience with this type of track having grown up in Sea Island and Pebble would be one of the handful events a year that play into his hands.
Sigg's maiden season last year was a shade inconsistent but he did establish himself as a fairly decent ball striker who could flourish on these shorter coastal tracks. He threatened here last year on his debut at the event being inside the top ten heading into the final round before succumbing to a 3 over par round to tumble outside the top 30.
15th at the RSM in November was a fair effort in his part of the world and most recently at the American Express his approach play was stellar over three rounds only to be let down by his normally reliable driver.
He has made seven from eight cuts this season and looks slightly overpriced to continue that trend and make a mark on the leaderboard on Sunday.
1pt each-way G.Sigg 90/1 (1/5 8)
Scott Piercy at 100/1 (Eight Places)
Kevin Streelman has bags of form here and it wouldn't surprise me should he bounce back from some poor golf of late but it would take a leap to include him in the staking plan. Adam Long isn't exactly suited to Torrey but he is another who if he finds some form with his irons could out play his triple figure price.
Jimmy Walker showed signs of resurgence last week in San Diego also and a return to a place where he was won before could spark extra life into this old dog. I'll finish with two triple figure shots in the shape of Scott Piercy and Justin Suh.
Piercy missed the cut at the Sony Open but that was only down to being the 5th worst putter in the field across the opening two days. His long game was in decent shape and the stats that we have for the Stadum Course in California suggest it was ok there also.
Last week at Torrey he ranked 7th in the field on approach and performed reasonably well for someone hindered by the length of that course. He had been struggling on the greens this year but a return to Poa last week saw him rank 20th in the field. That bodes well for the three courses this week on the greens and this old fox could figure at a nice price.
1pt each-way S.Piercy 100/1 (1/5 8)
Justin Suh at 100/1 (Eight Places)
Finally I'll take the chance on Justin Suh who bounced back to some better form at Torrey with a top 20. Up until last week his PGA Tour jaunt thus far wasn't quite what we thought it would be having won the Korn Ferry Tour Championship back in September.
Last week was a much better indication of what he is capable of and a ball striker as talented as Justin must be supported at triple figure prices at this stage in his career. It is quite possible that he may struggle to live up the hype like plenty before him but if last week was a return to some of his better form then he must be chanced at venues that should really suit his long game.
1pt each-way J.Suh 100/1 (1/5 8)