AT&T Pebble Beach Betting Preview

Brandt Snedeker

Brandt Snedeker (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

After Phil Mickelson blew away the competition last week in Phoenix, a loaded field of the world’s best players and former major winners are in California to play in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
 
2013 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Fact Sheet

  • Course: Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula
  • Location: Pebble Beach, California
  • Yardage: 6,816 to 6,858 yards, par 70 & par 72
  • Defending Champion: Phil Mickelson
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Nick Watney, Lee Westwood

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday – 1:00 AM to 12:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:30 PM ET (CBS)

The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is pretty much the marquee stroke play event of the early PGA Tour season, and most of that has to do with the venue. The tournament is held on three separate courses, with Pebble Beach handling two of the four rounds including Sunday’s finale, while Spyglass Hill and the Monterey Peninsula will also be used. Pebble Beach is one of the most picturesque areas of the United States, and always provides a breathtaking backdrop for the annual event with some of the most iconic holes in golf, most notably the par-3 7th. At most, the hole plays at 106 yards, but when the wind gets up, it becomes one of the most difficult par-3’s in the world. In the 1992 U.S. Open, Tom Kite hit a sand wedge on Saturday and a 6-iron on Sunday just because of how windy it got in the final round. There are many holes at Pebble that are affected in this way, and the wind is supposed to be pretty brutal on Friday, so those who can manage the conditions, or those who get lucky with the course draw, will likely give themselves an advantage.
 
Of the three courses, Spyglass is probably the toughest thanks to all of the elevation changes, and assuming that the wind is down, the Monterey Peninsula should be where players do most of their scoring. All three courses clock in at less than 7,000 yards, so they are shorter than most players will see during the season.
 
Key Storyline This Week
 
With so many good players in the field, you could really look at just about anything to focus on, but I’m going to go with the two consensus favourites this week. Both Mickelson and Dustin Johnson love this event, winning it on multiple occasions. Of course, Mickelson ran away with the win in Phoenix last week, but he was terrible in the two events before that. It’s worth noting that when Mickelson won this event in 2005, he also won in Phoenix the week before when it was known as the FBR Open. Winning in back-to-back weeks is just something you don’t see very often, and with most places pegging Mickelson as the 7-1 favourite, there just isn’t enough value in it for me.
 
As for Johnson, after winning the season opener at Kapalua, he withdrew the following week at the Sony and followed that up with a T-51 at the Farmers. He’ll be playing with hockey legend Wayne Gretzky in the pro-am portion of the event, who just happens to be the father of DJ’s new girlfriend, Paulina. His record here is outstanding, finishing inside the top-8 at Pebble in five of six career appearances.
 
Suggested plays
 
Brandt Snedeker (Best Odds 12-1 at Bet365)
The logic here with Snedeker is pretty simple: He’s playing too well to pass up. He’s been inside the top-3 in three of his first four events to start 2013. In those 15 rounds, only one of them has been over par. Further to that, he’s played ten events since missing the cut at the PGA Championship in August, and he’s been under par in 37 of 39 rounds. He’s only got one top-10 finish at Pebble in his career, but when a guy is this dialed in, you pretty much have to take him until he cools off.
 
Lee Westwood (Best Odds 22-1 at Pinnacle)
You should never be able to get Westwood at this kind of a price, especially when he’s coming off of a good week. He finished tied for fifth last week in Dubai in his season debut, and he does have a good record in his three events at Pebble. Not that it means a ton, but in his pre-tournament press conference, Westwood mentioned that if he could pick one place to play his final round of golf, it’d be Pebble Beach. He obviously likes it here, and like I said earlier, the price is simply too good to pass up.
 
Webb Simpson (Best Odds 37-1 at Betfair)
It’s not often that you get a chance to grab a major winner from the previous season at long odds like this. Simpson, last year’s U.S. Open champ, missed the cut in the Humana two weeks ago, and we haven’t seen him since. He’s a streaky player, and his best finish at the course was a tie for 46th last year, but there’s good value here. When he’s hot, there are very few players better than him, and if the wind picks up, he’ll be just fine. When the wind is at least 15 mph, Simpson is nearly a full stroke better than when it’s less than 15 mph. That may not seem like much, but at Pebble Beach, it can mean an awful lot.
 
Tim Clark (Best Odds 45-1 at Betfair)
Clark’s only finished outside of the top-20 twice at Pebble, and it probably has to do with his lack of distance being minimized by the short courses. He’s a machine when it comes to hitting fairways and greens, and even when he misses, he’s one of the best scramblers in the world. Despite not finishing particularly well in the past few weeks, Clark actually has the best scoring average (67.36) of any player on the PGA Tour in the last three months.
 
Greg Owen (Best Odds 298-1 at BETDAQ)
Greg Owen is your dartboard, hail mary selection of the week. In four events this season, his best finish is a tie for 51st at the Farmers, but he always seems to play well here. In seven appearances, the Englishman has 3rd, 4th and 9th place finishes, as well as a T-21 and T-39. At 230th in the world, Owen stinks compared to other professionals, but for some reason, he loves Pebble Beach. The general public forgets how good these guys are, and when someone is comfortable somewhere, even someone like Owen, they have the ability to go low. He’s not going to win this tournament, but at 298-1, throw a couple of bucks down on an each-way finish.
 
Other Tournament Notes

  • Jim Furyk makes his 2013 season debut this week. After vomiting all over himself for much of 2012, it’s going to be interesting to see how he bounces back. He still had a good year in 2012, making north of $3.6 million, but he blew four Sunday leads and was a major factor in the collapse of the U.S. Ryder Cup team. If I had to bet on what to expect from Furyk this season, I’d say that it only gets worse from here.
  • David Duval will also be in the field, and he will be back using Nike clubs for the first time in two-plus seasons. Duval officially re-signed with Nike earlier this week after leaving the manufacturer in 2010.
  • There was a time when Mike Weir was a surefire lock to be at the top of the leaderboard at Pebble Beach. From 2003 to 2009, Weir finished no lower than 4th on only two occasions here, but all of that has changed in recent years with his struggles. He has started to get part of his game back though, so who knows, Pebble could be the place where Weir puts it all together again.
  • Lastly, keep an eye on Padraig Harrington, who very quietly has put together three top-10’s in his last four events, including last week in Phoenix.
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