Our golf expert has two tips for this week's tournament in California.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
The annual pilgrimage to the west coast pro-am is upon us and many celebrities will have been manufacturing their handicap in an attempt to hog the potential limelight in the winners circle. Spyglass Hill, Monterey and Pebble Beach are the 3 courses the pros will play before finishing off on the famous cliffs of Pebble on Sunday to crown a champion. Often, weather holds they key to those who fill the leaderboard on Sunday. A crop of players will no doubt get an ounce of luck at some point over the first three days and that could make all the difference. There have been a wide array of Champions here including journeymen and the worlds best so it's hard to rule many out. Experience seems to be key with winners having played the event a fair number of times before winning.
I wondered whether I'd jump at the chance to back Dustin here when he won a few weeks back but now the event has come around I am unenthused. The quotes of 13/2 are fair enough for someone who has a love affair with the course but there are so many things that can happen here over four days that puts me off. Amateurs, weather and luck all play their part and even though he has overcome these things before, I'd rather wait for a better opportunity. One angle I would like to explore is whether a format like this could help those that previously find it hard to hold it together mentally for four days. Tyrrell Hatton is a perfect example in the Alfred Dunhill Links that he has won for the past two years. He has said himself that the format helps him relax and his otherwise questionable temper is kept in check by the laid back nature of the event.
That takes me to my first selection, Jon Rahm (best price 11-1). Rahm has shot to world number two and a spot atop the games rankings looks like a matter of time. He has achieved plenty in his short career but it has already been written about what he 'could' achieve further if his temper is kept in check. There were times last week in Arizona where he lost the rag and previous occasions certainly show the Spaniard has a hot side to him. Nevertheless he has won enough and already and more wins are only around the corner. He finished 5th here on his debut appearance last year which is extremely impressive given the majority of winners here down the years are very experienced. This format can only help Rahm and he can get back into the winners enclosure on Sunday.
Another who has even a hotter temper than the world no2 is SHANE LOWRY (best price 80-1). It is no surprise to see he is 3 from 3 here and has posted two top 25 finishes. The courses suit and given his fondness for playing in challenging conditions this will be an event he targets in the States in his career. He has already bagged a prestigious event out here and this would be another to add to the list. He hasn't hit a lot of heights lately but a return to this part of the world and the atmosphere of the event should certainly help. Hatton's two wins in Scotland are certainly partly down to the relaxed nature of the event and Lowry is another who could do with letting his shoulders loose a shade. With form here and a pedigree for this type of golf he looks like a lively outsider to me. I find it difficult to get involved in any more players this week. It is a hard week to judge every year and the results down the years show a fair amount of journeymen who have played well here with no recent or course form to go on. I considered adding Paul Dunne to my staking plan but I do wonder if the likes of Spyglass will be a shade too tough for the Irishman right now. These are the two best bets in the field to me and I'm prepared to bet accordingly in a week where I'd normally tread carefully.