AT&T Pebble Beach National
By Lewis Pacelli
Last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Phil Mickelson ran away with an outstanding victory. It was a delight to watch “lefty” back to his scintillating best, with a show of iron play we rarely get to see. Countless times, he had short putts for birdies, especially on that special day where he nearly broke the course record.
We had some relative success picking up e/w places on Ryan Palmer and Ryan Moore, both at 66s, however that first win of the season is still eluding us. We have always celebrated a win with a cheeky shot of lemoncello (we are classy people) – it is fair to say the cork needs to come off once more.
So, onto this week where we take our fortunes to the pro-am tournament in sunny California, for the AT&T Pebble Beach National. It will however, not be the kindest weather on the field, with rain expected on the first couple of days and some potentially strong winds throughout. With the amateur “celebrities” in tow, the professionals will take to the usual 3 courses – Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Moterey Peninsula, before a cut at the 54-hole mark for the top of the leaderboard to fight it out on a frantic last day back at Pebble Beach. Mickelson was the winner last year on a circuit that stretches across the coastline, making viewing interesting but always nervy. The ball could go anywhere with strong winds, so nervy players will definitely struggle. None of the courses exceed the 7,000 yards mark, with Poa Annua greens at Pebble Beach and attackable pins. It is likely the pin positions will not be as challenging as it is when the US Open hits town, but with variable weather conditions, anything could happen. Bare in mind Graeme McDowell won the coveted major here at level par!
Naturally, golfers in some sort of form do well at this tournament, or at least have a good history on the course.
Over the last 12 years, only Steve Lowery in 2008 has won the event without having recorded a top 20 in two previous visits…Considering accuracy and potential long hitting with a history on the greens, area and course, here is a list we consider could do some damage this year.
Dustin Johnson (8/1 PaddyPower)
Johnson started the 2013 campaign in style winning the 3-day opener in Hawaii. Although he hasn’t seemed to build momentum from this, it could be a week where the American big hitter takes control of the field and pushes his season forward. He has an ability to keep focused and play well when windy conditions arrive and can still drive the ball a considerable distance, always offering birdie chances. He is averaging over 300 yards, whilst lying 10th in GIR, which is remarkable considering he has only played 2¼ events!
Our main reason for choosing him at these odds however is the sort of course form that gets you very excited.
T5 last year, before a T55 in 2011, all after the two victories in a row and a T7. Only ONCE has he been outside the top 10 and that is simply outstanding. We would recommend placing any hard-earned wages on a Johnson win, however, we do understand golf is a funny old game and whenever you back someone to win, they always end up coming 2nd…
Hunter Mahan (25/1 PaddyPower)
Hunter is having what we would call a progressive start to the season, yet to break the top 10 barrier, but 2 top 20s in a row, would suggest he is starting to put behind the Ryder Cup disappointment behind him. He is slowly moving up the statistical rankings in several areas, however lying in 16th for strokes gained in putting is an eye-opener and will come in useful one potentially tough Poa Annua greens. He is equally adept with irons and will consistently challenge the easier pin positions. Course form backs up these arguments, with three top 20s and a 2nd place in 2011. As a Californian lad, Mahan will know the area and conditions relatively well and he will certainly not want to disappoint.
Aaron Baddeley (40/1 PaddyPower)
His 6th in wet conditions at Torrey Pines a few weeks ago, caught our attention when it came round to the event this week. Proving he can play a consistent 4 rounds of golf in varying weather, could be a strong point for him.
He has the ability when wind takes over, so it will be very interesting to see how he copes when the nature turns nasty! (Oh how we wish monsieur Bjørn was here) Course form is very encouraging, as last year he finished a solo 4th and in 2011 T6. The Australian has also made a solid start to the season, with no missed cuts and a T6 at the Farmers Insurance 2 weeks ago.
In terms of putting, Baddeley is as good as anyone, lying 15th for strokes gained in putting and if he can get his driving and iron play working in potentially horrid conditions, an e/w shout is certainly on the cards.
Jimmy Walker (40/1 PaddyPower)
This is a player who seems to love playing in California. Some golfers have certain areas in the world they feel comfortable in and this is the place for Walker. He has 7 top 10s from his last 9 events in the state, including a T6 at the Callaway Invitational at Pebble Beach last November and a T4 at the Farmers Insurance Open a couple of weeks ago. He has carded 2 T9 in a row at this event and he even shot an unbelievable 63 on the second day in 2011, but for a 75 on the final day, he could have been several places higher. He didn’t play particularly well last week, but it is common knowledge that Scottsdale isn’t a suited track for him and with him averaging well over 300 yards from the tee, anything is possible this weekend.
Bryce Molder (66/1 PaddyPower)
Bryce Molder is someone we have never backed before, however whilst doing the research on course form, the name constantly kept cropping up. Form at the event reads 69, 6, 10, 121 in recent years, however it is the relentless attack on the top 20 at the Callaway Pebble Beach Invitational, which is outstanding. The tournament is every November and although it never attracts the greatest players around, nor is it an official tour event, it DOES take place at Pebble Beach, where 2 rounds will be played this week. His form between 2012-2008 reads – T10, T11, T8 and T10. He has also started the season in good nick, yet to miss a cut and 2 top 25 finishes, including the T16 at The Humana Challenge (also a pro-am event) He has complete accuracy off the tee, lying in 11th place for FIR % and when you are 4th for strokes gained in putting, you know you always have a chance. As they say, you drive for show and putt for dough
Just A Quick Point
Without so-called “selecting” him, we do want to bring to your attention a man who could certainly feature this week and at odds of 100/1 with PaddyPower, it may be worth chucking your spare change on an e/w shout. D.A Points has consistent form at Pebble Beach over the years, having won it in 2011 and at the Callaway Invitational his form reads – T10 T15 5th T2 T15 18 and T3. Even though his start to the season has been way below mediocre, it is tough to ignore a player who has the ability and loves this course at those prices! Let alone the fact he is teaming up with Bill Murray once again
This weeks double comes from our two shortest prices with Branden Grace and Dustin Johnson. The combined total of 81/1 is certainly worth an e/w punt!