AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
By Derek Hill
The greatest show on grass has once again come and gone. What a show, right? Tony Finau, who had been anything but impressive in his previous appearances at TPC Scottsdale had a great week. Stepping into the stadium at the 16th, it looked like he had it in the bag. He left the door open just enough for Webb Simpson to come up with one of the more clutch finishes we have seen in a while.
We have another great month of golf ahead of us with a few pretty big events. This month starts off with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Players will be guaranteed 3 rounds before the cut, 1 round at each of the courses that will host the event. Pebble Beach Golf Links is the course we are all familiar with, but we will see the players playing both Spyglass Hill GC as well as the Monterey Peninsula GC Shore Course. Both of them are relatively short. Spyglass is listed as a 6,858-yard par 72 while Monterey Peninsula is listed at 6,958 yards and is a par 71. Both courses should allow players to go with less than driver off the tee to keep it in the fairway in order to hit the small greens this week. Pebble Beach can transform quite a bit depending on the event. When hosting the US Open, we see narrow fairways and long rough. However, for this event, the rough is shorter and the fairways are widened, making conditions a little easier on players.
Weather conditions can definitely be a factor in this event. Monterey Peninsula is probably the most difficult to play in the wind which looks like it could be the strongest on Saturday. Tee times will not be posted until tomorrow, so keep an eye out for who will be playing Monterey on Saturday and possibly pick them with caution.
There are plenty of guys who could contend this week, but here are the guys I think have the best chance:
Top-End Pick: Dustin Johnson
DJ has been somewhat idle so far this season so it is hard to gauge where his game is at. We do know a few things that point toward a good week. He finished T7 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and 2nd last week at the Saudi International. We also know that he is a beast at Pebble Beach. In 12 trips he has 2 wins, 2 seconds, a third, a T4, and a T5. That gives you a pretty good idea that he’s a safe bet to finish in the top 10 this week.
Other guys I like:
Jason Day: They say defense travels in football. I believe the same could be said about short game in golf. Guys who have “it” around the greens tend to be the more consistent players and can turn a bad ball striking day into a decent round. Jason Day is 1st in SG around the green. He is also 35th in SG: Tee to Green. Those 2 stats alone should make him a threat this week. When you add in his record at Pebble, he becomes a great choice.
Paul Casey: 2 consecutive top-10 finishes at Pebble Beach (2nd in 2019, and T8 in 2018.) Ranks 2nd in fairways hit and 2nd in GIR. Expect him to be in the fairway and on the green in regulation pretty much all week. That comes in handy with some small greens this week.
Others to consider: Patrick Cantlay, Brandt Snedeker
Mid-Tier Pick: Graeme McDowell
McDowell is a really inspiring story. The comeback he has made over the last year or two has been really impressive. It’s hard not to root for him. In his last official tour events, he has finished inside the top 25 every time (excluding a W/D at the ZOZO.) On top of that, he won convincingly last week in Saudi Arabia. In 6 starts at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he has 3 finishes inside the top 20: 18th, 7th, and 8th.
Other mid-tier guys I like:
Phil Mickelson: Phil has his body looking like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, it hasn’t really translated to better golf play so far. Sometimes you just need a comfortable venue to find your game again. That comes this week for Phil. In 24 starts at the Pebble Pro-Am, he has only missed the cut 3 times. He has won it 5 times as well as finished 2nd and 3rd twice each. It is not all old success either. He is the defending champ here. Phil just needs to clean it up on the greens where he ranks a miserable 202nd in SG: Putting so far this year.
Max Homa: T10 last year. He is coming off of back to back top-10 finishes. Hasn’t missed a cut in his last 5 starts.
Branden Grace: Grace is making a bit of a resurgence of his own. T9 at TPC Scottsdale. He also has 2 top-30 finishes in 2 starts here.
Others to Consider: JB Holmes, Sung Kang, Scott Stallings
Value Play: DJ Trahan
Trahan is looking to take advantage of gaining back his PGA tour card for this season. He already has a pair of top 25 finishes. 7 for 11 in made cuts at this event. 2 of those were top-10 finishes. 8th in total driving and 33rd in SG:Tee to Green which are both important at Pebble Beach.
Other guys I like:
Maverick McNealy: 8 straight made cuts for the youngster including a 15th place finish at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Brandon Wu: Another young, slightly risky pick that could really pay off. Wu has seen some success in his PGA events so far. He is 3-3 in made cuts with a 17th place finish at the Houston Open. He played in the US Open at Pebble Beach last year and finished in 35th place. It is a different set up, but a familiar course for Wu.
Others to consider: Brian Gay, Chris Stroud, Michael Thompson
Derek Hill Grew up in rural Utah. Married my his wife, Krista in 2010. Derek and Krista have 2 young daughters. Derek earned an undergrad degree from UVU, a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Weber State University, and Masters in Nursing Anesthesia from Samford University. Derek currently lives in Henderson Nevada.