Pebble Beach Pro-Am 2-Ball Picks and Predictions: Who Should You Be Backing to Start Hot?

Pebble Beach Pro-Am Round 1 matchups, 2-Ball picks and analysis from Andy Lack. Find out who to target in the matchup markets this Thursday. The PGA Tour returns to Pebble Beach and Andy is here to kick off the tournament with some early winners.
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Pebble Beach Pro-Am 2-Ball Picks and Predictions: Who Should You Be Backing to Start Hot?

The PGA Tour returns to one its most iconic venues, Pebble Beach, for the AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Pebble Beach may be the star of the show, but similar to what we've seen the past two weeks, this event will feature a three-course rotation. Players will rotate one round at each Pebble Beach, Monterrey Peninsula Country Club, and Spyglass Hill over their first three days, and the low 60 players and ties will play the final round at Pebble Beach. This also the second and final tournament on the schedule that features a Pro-Am during competition. Players will be paired up with celebrities, which always makes for some interesting viewing.

From a handicapping standpoint, this is one of the more difficult tournaments to predict, as only Pebble Beach has shot-tracker. Thus, our data from Monterrey Peninsula and Spyglass Hill is limited, not to mention the fact that television coverage is nearly completely focused on Pebble. With that being said, Spyglass Hill and Monterrey Peninsula are both relatively benign and wide open golf courses with small Poa Annua greens and scoreable Par 5s. The biggest commonality we can draw is that wedge play will be extremely important at all three tracks. Both Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill feature some of the smallest greens on Tour, but neither are long courses, so there will be a high plurality of approach shots coming below 150 yards. Experience on Poa Annua greens will also be crucial, as Pebble Beach consistently ranks as one of the most difficult courses in putts made percentage inside 15 feet. Finally, players will need to be prepared for slower rounds. Some players, such as Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson, and Jason Day, seem to thrive in a Pro-Am format, yet a player that prefers playing fast and a more competitive atmosphere might not be the biggest fan of this experience.

Let's dig into my round 3-ball selections.

Click here for the latest AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Odds.

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Round 1 Matchup: Jason Day (-140) vs. Nick Taylor (+120)

Selection: Nick Taylor (+120) (Bet $100 to Win $120)

Jason Day will be an extremely popular selection this week coming off a contending performance at the Farmer's Insurance Open, and he is now returning to a course that he has experienced loads of success at. I was impressed with what I saw from Day last week as well, but I still have a difficult time buying into a massive price bump across all markets this week. Last week's third place finish was his best result in nearly four years, and while his ball-striking did look better, he was still buoyed by a hot putter. I'm just not ready to buy into a Jason Day resurgence because of one strong performance at a course he always plays well at.

Nick Taylor, on the other hand, is player I actually think is largely undervalued this week, despite being a former winner at this event in 2020. Taylor's ball-striking was nearly just as strong as Day's last week at the Farmer's, which is far more encouraging given that Torrey Pines is not a course I would expect him to play well at. Conversely, Pebble Beach plays right into Taylor's hands. The two-time PGA Tour winner has a really solid long-term baseline on Poa greens and an excellent short game. I will gladly take my chances with the underdog in this matchup.

Round 1 Matchup: Jordan Spieth (-130) vs. Ryan Palmer (+110)

Selection: Ryan Palmer (+110) (Bet $100 to Win $110)

Jordan Spieth might be the most difficult player on the board this week to analyze. In nine apparances at this event, he has never finished worse than 45th, with eight top-25s, five top-10s, three top-fives, and a win in 2017. With that being said, he has been downright terrible since the British Open. After watching him at the Sentry TOC and Farmer's Insurance Open, it looks as if the three-time major winner is once again tinkering with his swing, as he has began to employ an extremely deliberate new pre-shot routine. The stats bear that something is wrong as well, as Spieth has lost an average of over 2.5 strokes on approach over his last five tournaments. Right now, the 14-time PGA Tour winner is playing golf swing, not golf, and backing him this week is essentially a blind belief that a return to Monterrey Peninsula will fix what appears to be a technical issue.

Ryan Palmer presents almost an inverse dilemma. In 13 appearances at this event, Palmer has made eight cuts with zero top-20 finishes. He chooses to play this tournament every single year, but he has rarely been any good. With that being said, the four-time PGA Tour winner is coming off a 16th at the Farmer's Insurance Open where he gained 2.7 strokes off the tee and 2.5 strokes on approach. Prior to that, Palmer finished seventh at the Sony Open buoyed by another impressive ball-striking performance. Palmer has now recorded back-to-back top-20s where he gained over 2.5 strokes off the tee and 1.5 strokes on approach. I understand that his course history here has been unimpressive, but on paper, I actually like the fit. Palmer is a great wedge player who has experienced loads of success on Poa greens. He's also the number four player in this entire field on courses under 7,200 yards over a large sample size. As you can probably gather, I care far more about recent form than I do about course history, and I will gladly put that theory to test in this round one matchup.

Round 1 Matchup: Kevin Streelman (-125) vs. Keith Mitchell (+105)

Selection: Kevin Streelman (-125) (Bet $100 to Win $80)

I've already alluded to how many players this week are getting a sizable price increase because of their course history, and I actually think Kevin Streelman's is justified. Yes, his resume at this event has been imaculate. In his last six appearances here, Streelman has finished 17th, 14th, 6th, 7th, 2nd, 13th, yet he actually checks the form box as well. Streelman's 39th at the Farmer's Insurance Open may not look like much on the surface, but I found the fact that he was able to gain four strokes ball-striking on a course he has no business competing at to be extremely encouraging.

My issue with Keith Mitchell is simple. Pebble Beach simply devalues his greatest strength, the ability to drive the ball long and straight. Streelman and Mitchell are starting on Monterrey Peninsula Country Club, a course that features generous fairways and a vast plurality of holes where there is very little benefit for hitting driver. Instead, the emphasis is placed on the second shot. Despite being one of the best off the tee players in this field, Mitchell ranks 128th out of 156 players in this field in strokes gained approach, and his long-term baseline on Poa greens has been pretty abysmal as well. This is an easy one.

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Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from Manhattan, New York. Andy came to OddsChecker in January 2022 after previously writing for Golf Digest, GolfWRX, Rotoballer, and the Score. Andy is also the host of a golf betting and daily fantasy podcast, Inside Golf Podcast, as well as "The Scramble” with Rick Gehman, and a recurring guest on the Pat Mayo Experience. In his free time, Andy is still grinding away at his lifelong dream of qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, and if not writing, can likely be found somewhere on a golf course.

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