Clambakes, celebrities and some of the most serene views on the planet will overshadow the golf this week but gamers soldier on.
The weather forecast isn’t favorable until Saturday and Sunday so that throws in a left-handed monkey wrench as well.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Pebble Beach Golf Links (Host)
Spyglass Hill Golf Club
Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course)
Pebble Beach, California
Yards: 6,816 per the official scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Poa annua; only 3,500 square feet on average (tiny)
Rough: Rye, at 2″
Course Architect(s): Jack Neville and Douglas Grant (1919); Ed Conner and Jack Nicklaus (1991)
Purse: $7.2 million; $1.296 million (winner); 500 FedExCup Points
Defending Champion: Vaughn Taylor posted 17-under par 270 and rallied from six shots back to defeat Phil Mickelson by a shot to win for the first time on Tour since 2005.
Spyglass Hill Golf Club
Yards: 6,953 as per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Poa annua (5,000 square feet on average)
Rough: Perennial rye grass and Poa annua at 2”
Water Hazards: 4
Course Architects: Robert Trent Jones (1966)
Notes: Since the new rotation in 2010, SH has been the toughest of the three layouts every year except last year.
Monterey Peninsula Country Club
Yards: 6,867 as per the scorecard
Par: 71 (34-37)
Greens: Bentgrass and Poa annua (7,000 square feet on average)
Rough: Perennial rye grass and Kentucky bluegrass at 2”
Water Hazards: 1
Course Architects: Robert Babcock and Jack Neville (1960); Mike Stranz (2003).
Notes: This course has FIVE par threes and FOUR par fives.
- 156 players; Stroke play; 72 holes; pro-am spread over three courses; top 60 and ties play Sunday on Pebble Beach.
- Yahoo! and PGATOUR Fantasy gamers must be aware of the course rotation to maximize scoring conditions this week.
Frys.com: Brendan Steele
CIMB: Justin Thomas
WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama
Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**
Shriners: Rod Pampling
OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez
RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**
SBS TOC: Justin Thomas
Sony Open: Justin Thomas
CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*
Farmers: Jon Rahm*
WMPO: Hideki Matsuyama
**First-time winner AND rookie winner
Previous 10 Champions
2016: Vaughn Taylor, -17
2015: Brandt Snedeker, -22
2014: Jimmy Walker, -11
2013: Brandt Snedeker, -19
2012: Phil Mickelson, -19
2011: D.A. Points, -15
2010: Dustin Johnson, -16
2009: Dustin Johnson, -15
2008: #Steve Lowery, -10*
2007: Phil Mickelson, -20
# not playing this week
Facts and Figures:
- Tournament Record: 265, Snedeker (2015).
- Course Records: 62, David Duval (1992), Tom Kite (1987), at Pebble Beach; 61, Sung Kang (2016) MPCC; 62, Luke Donald (2006), Phil Mickelson (2005) Spyglass Hill.
- First-time winners: only three since the turn of the century
- There has never been a rookie winner; Cameron Smith was the best finisher last year (T-11).
- Brett Ogle (1993) was the last winner to break his maiden at Pebble Beach.
- Since 1980 Mark O’Meara (five), Mickelson (four), Johnson (two) and Snedeker (two) have won multiple times.
- Since 1990 only Johnson defended his title (2009-10).
- This tournament, which has roots dating back to the 1930s, has crowned exactly THREE, non-American champions (Bruce Crompton, 1965; Brett Ogle, 1993; Vijay Singh, 2004).
- Since 1990 only two playoffs have been needed to decide a champion.
- Taylor led the field last year with 25 birdies.
- Check the pedigree of the past winners. Most are 30-somethings but that has hardly been the trend on Tour this year.
2016: +.654; 16th-most difficult on Tour; excellent weather.
2015: -1.759; under par; eighth easiest on Tour– perfect weather.
2014: +1.385; Seventh-most DIFFICULT — not perfect weather.
2016: +.506; 15th-most difficult.
2015: -0.801; in the easier half.
2014: +0.755; 11th-most difficult
2016: -0.669; 25th out of 50 played.
2015: -2.064; third easiest on Tour.
2014: +0.252; middle of the pack
Rain is the forecast Monday night, Tuesday (100%), Thursday (100%) and Friday (90%) but all sunshine on the weekend with temperatures in the low 60’s. With the pro-am and poor weather, this should make for an absolute crap-shoot the first two days so buckle it up!
Gamers, this is our final, multi-track pro-am of the year and we should all rejoice in that! With the rain expected to approach three inches or so by the end of Friday, the dart throwers should stick out. As with most pro-ams, the rough won’t be too terribly difficult and the Poa annua greens will run at levels that should encourage birdies. Long rounds will be even longer with the wet, rainy conditions so look for guys who’re playing with comfy partners that won’t mind “hanging out” for four days.
Pebble Beach will get the most attention because that’s where the winner is going to be decided. With the smallest greens on Tour, there’s hardly a surprise why ball-strikers flourish here. With four par fives and not even playing 6,900 yards it’s also not hard to see why power players are in this same category. Never count out the short game players or the Poa specialists but I’m not sure this is the week to lean on rookies. Their top finishes, as a whole, over the last few years are few and far between.
Spyglass Hill will be the course to avoid this week in rotation games. The fairways are brutally narrow and the recovery shots will test the patience of the best on Tour. With below-average sized greens, finding them from the rough or less-than-perfect lies will separate the field. A nice score here can gain a few shots on the field.
Monterrey Peninsula Country Club’s Shore Course was dismantled to the tune of 60 last year by Sung Kang. The only non-par 72 features three par fives and five par threes and provides the largest targets off the fairway of the rotation. When the weather was perfect in 2015, it played more than two shots below par but regressed last year as the breeze picked up.
In order of preference for this week and this tournament
Dustin Johnson: The two-time champ has four other top 10’s to add from nine starts as he mows over these pitch and putt courses annually. His MC at Torrey Pines included having to watch Tiger Woods chop it around for 36 holes. He’ll have another GOAT by his side this week, The Great One, Wayne Gretzky. If the weather is poor and the courses play “longer”, this dart thrower should have even more of an advantage.
Justin Rose: The first two coastal tracks he’s played this year have resulted in solo second at Sony and T-4 at Torrey Pines. His back injury is healed and his iron play is first rate. Most first-time players don’t shine at this event but his T-6 last year in his maiden voyage included 66 at Spyglass Hill.
Jason Day: Don’t worry, I’ll point out the tracks that he doesn’t play well but this doesn’t qualify. He hasn’t missed in seven tries and five finishes are T-14 or better including T-11 last year. He’s won at Torrey and Whistling Straits so Poa annua and water views don’t distract him. With his power and short game, there’s no reason to be!
Jordan Spieth: This is event No. 5 in a row at Pebble and the first four all resulted in T-22 or better. As AT&T’s ambassador, it’s hardly shocking that he playing and performing. He’s made three starts in 2017 and has hit the top 10 in all three. Spieth doesn’t mind a knock in the rain or wind as he likes to work the ball.
Phil Mickelson: Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. The three-time Pebble Beach champ gave it a sniff at CB Challenge. He gave it a sniff at Torrey Pines. He gave it a sniff last week. He’ll put on both of his gloves in the rain on Thursday and Friday and continue his very steady play in the new season. I’d point out that he blew a six shot lead on Sunday last year, including five footer on the last to force a playoff, but that’s not necessary.
Brandt Snedeker: His love for Poa annua and coastal golf has been well documented in this column. Gamers were taken aback at Torrey Pines as he didn’t fire on Sunday even though he was co-54-hole leader. Similarly to Torrey Pines, Snedeker has won this event twice but each time here has included the tournament record.
Jon Rahm: I have a feeling he’ll follow in the footsteps of the studs that made big debuts in this event. Jason Day was sixth, Patrick Reed seventh, Justin Rose T-6 and Dustin Johnson T-7 and Rahm is pushing to fit into this category sooner or later. It took him only 17 events to find his first win so there’s your proof he’s a quick learner. That win came on a former U.S. Open track so he won’t be intimidated this week. Sit back and enjoy this ride for the next 20 years!
Patrick Reed: He hit it all over the shop last week and made nothing with the flat stick. Other than that, it was a good week. He’ll welcome the site of this event where he’s 40-under the last three years with two top 10’s and nothing worse than T-29. He posted 65 at MCPP and PBGL last year for T-7.
Webb Simpson: He closed 65-64 last week and probably should have won in the playoff vs. Matsuyama but his putter checked out at the wrong moment after a very good week. His iron play should be highlighted on the smallish greens at Pebble Beach and his confidence should match. He won the U.S. Open up the street at Olympic Club and that should help with the vibes as well.
Jimmy Walker: After MC in two of his first three tries here, he’s rattled off six weekends in a row. That streak includes five T-11’s or better and a title in 2014. The history tells us he thrives on the Hawaii and California coasts. His MC at Sony and MC at Torrey Pines have posed more questions than answers for gamers. If experience and big players are the angle this week, he qualifies easily. If his hoo-doo continues this week consider me officially concerned.
J.B. Holmes: Since his rebirth, he’s 24-under the last two years with three rounds of eight 66 or better. Count him in the bunch that enjoys golf during this part of the season and in this part of the country. He’s closed the last two weeks 68 and 67 so be patient if he starts slowly.
Shane Lowry: He’s played plenty of links golf in less than optimum conditions so I’d expect him to embrace the first two days. Maybe the weather has been TOO good for him the last two years but T-21 and T-41 are very solid regardless. His even par round on Sunday last week saw the field leave him behind but he shouldn’t be upset with T-16. This will be third year in a row on this schedule so he should be comfortable.
Vaughn Taylor: The defending champ is 32-under the last two seasons, both good for top 10’s, and has quietly ran off eight weekends in a row on Tour. If he’s going to put it all together, this week would make the most sense. His 25 birdies, one eagle and T-2 GIR from his win make it hard to look away.
Form plays, eye-catchers who make great support staff, not in order
Martin Laird: Giddy up again this week! He’s made all six weekends on the new season and three of them have gone for top 10’s. I get that he hasn’t played this event since 2012 but he’s played it three times and won’t be going in blind. His strength is tee-to-green and his power won’t any either.
Roberto Castro: T-5 last year heading into Sunday before finishing T-8. Sure he MC last week but he’s also played 18 of the last 20 weekends he’s played on Tour.
Sean O’Hair: T-47 last week at Scottsdale should chase a few inexperienced folks away. They’ve picked the wrong week as O’Hair has rattled off eight in a row at Pebble. He didn’t have a round over par last week and his streak of par-or-better rounds is now at 16 consecutive.
Adam Hadwin: Super start to 2017 carried on last week with T-12 as the Canadian finds fairways, greens and holes plenty of putts. I’d have him up one flight if he had played here before.
Stewart Cink: His 15-year hiatus ended last year with T-21. After MC at CB Challenge, he bounced back nicely with T-20 at Torrey Pines.
Chez Reavie: No worries about last week’s MC as he NEVER plays well on that track. I’m not abandoning ship on T-8, T-12 and MC especially after he posted 63 last year at MPCC. In fairness, I’ll point out he also shot 77 Sunday at Pebble!
Gary Woodland: He’s currently fifth in SG: Total. The fantasy crush continues.
William McGirt: Half of his six starts are T-31 or better and the other three here are MC. He has the experience angle and doesn’t have to chase the bombers around on these tracks. His accuracy off the tee and into greens should be rewarded this week.
Matt Jones: He should be in the course horse section but I bumped him up after his 66 on Sunday last week. It was his first event since November so I’m going try to catch it on the way up. His numbers at Pebble (8 of 9; T-7 and T-11 the last two years) suggest this is a good plan.
Cameron Smith: The young Aussie has chalked up seven of eight weekends in the new season, all good for T-42 or better. His 64 to open last year at MPCC was impressive but I like how his 75 at Pebble on Friday turned into 70 on Sunday. #QuickStudy.
J.J. Spaun: If the switch just flipped, I’m jumping on board. The finish at Torrey wasn’t improbable as he played collegiately at SDSU. Last week he finished T-11 or better in fairways, greens, and putts so there’s no faking it there either. #HotGolfIsHotGolf.
Off the Beaten Path
Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings
Pat Perez: If he didn’t WD with a back injury last week, he would probably be in the main category this week. He has four top 10’s on the season, the same amount as Matsuyama and Thomas, and has top 10’s here in two of the last three years.
Jim Furyk: In the old days he would be in the favorites, no questions asked, but time marches on. He missed last year as he recovered from wrist surgery but he was T-7 in 2015 that included 64 at MPCC and 63 at Pebble Beach.
Sung Kang: He set the course record of 60 at MPCC last year and finished T-12 last week in Scottsdale as he threw up rounds of 65 and 66.
Nick Watney: He finished runner-up to Snedeker in 2015 on 19-under last time he played here. The Sacramento native plays here annually but missed last season when his back was out of whack. Lovely sleeper this week.
Patrick Cantlay: Remember him? That’s the same guy who shot 60 as an amateur at the Travelers. That’s the same guy who hasn’t played on Tour since 2014 at Mayakoba. He’s returning this week to an event he’s played once, T-9 in 2013. Massive risk could be even a bigger reward but the expectations should be somewhat tempered due to the layoff.
Ryan Blaum: His streak of playing the weekend across both Tours dating back to last summer is now 10 events in a row. He registers in the top 50 in SG: Total and in the top 40 in scoring. Shhhhhhhh.
Padraig Harrington: He’ll make his 11th consecutive appearance and has made seven of 10 cuts. I don’t think he’ll mind a bit of weather. T-21 last year after closing 74 knocked him back.
Spencer Levin: Another Nor-Cal player who has no problem with GIR or Poa, he’s played six of seven weekends at this event and has only five rounds over par in that stretch.
Jonas Blixt: He sat alone in third last year and has shown signs of life the last two weeks at Torrey (T-20) and TPC Scottsdale (64 on Friday).
Cameron Tringale: After MC in his first two tries he’s shown he’s picked up on the learning curve with finishes of T-60, T-22 and T-13. His recent results should keep him in the low ownership category.
Mark Hubbard: San Jose State alum had it going last year before a final round 75 knocked him back to T-26.
Ryan Armour: He’s played this event three times since 2007 and has nothing worse than T-29 to show for his efforts.
Bryce Molder: His streak of six in a row on the Monterrey Peninsula, including four T-12 or better, came to a crashing halt last year with MC. He shot 61 at Sony earlier this year and finished T-49 so hang on if you hitch up.
Injured, rusty or not the track this week
Ryan Palmer: He’s played here 11 years in a row and has one top 25 to show for it.
Brendon Todd: Before you look at anything he’s done here in the past, please remember he’s MC in 23 of his last 25 events on Tour.
Chris Stroud: Another Texan who plays here frequently and doesn’t have much to show other than seven MC from nine tries. His T-6 in 2009 was a long time ago.
D.A. Points: Plenty of rookie gamers look to past champions as assets. Points has one other top 25 besides his win in 10 tries.
Geoff Ogilvy: Doesn’t make cuts at Torrey (sans the 2008 U.S. Open) and doesn’t make cuts at Pebble Beach (MC 5 of 6).
Troy Merritt: He’ll test the current form (T-24 last week) vs. course form argument (0-5). I’m not going to be the scientist conducting this experiment.
Matt Kuchar: He’ll also test the above experiment. I always wonder why guys drop events but I’m guessing it is lack of love for the event or course. Kuchar usually plays the Bermuda of Hawaii and the desert before bailing back to Florida and leaves the Poa annua alone. I’m not going to chase last week on a course he hasn’t played since 2010.
Coming Later This Week:
Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at mikeglasscott.com and @MikeGlasscott for more information.
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