Prize Fund: $6,600,000
Well it was another painstaking yet profitable week for us at the Phoenix Open with Bubba eventually losing out to the Baby Walrus, Kevin Stadler, on the 18th green. It was our fourth 2nd place in three weeks on the PGA Tour. But Watson and Matsuyama both gave us healthy e/w returns as we still await our first win in America this year.
The tournament this week is a fun one and is quite similar to the Humana Challenge where three different courses are used over the first three days. But in terms of course difficulty, it will be a lot harder. The three tracks will be Spyglass Hill (SH), Monterey Peninsula (MP) and of course Pebble Beach (PB). If you didn’t know, Pebble Beach most recently held the 2010 US Open in which Graeme McDowell ran out winner with a score of even par. This outlines the difficulty of the course.
Pebble Beach is where two of the four rounds are held. It is a 6,828 yard par 72 and is situated on the coastline. Pin positions are likely to be easier than those found in the US Open but it will be a tough test none the less. Accuracy and GIR will be vital but even more so will be putting. The greens will be small and running quick and it will be where the tournament is won and lost. Monterey Peninsula and Spyglass Hill are also sub-7,000 yards with the latter usually posing the toughest test of all three courses. It will have various hazards and small, elevated greens. If there are consistent birdies to be made, it will have to be on the Monterey course.
All types of golfers have done well on these tracks from Dustin Johnson to Luke Donald. The winner will have to be in good form and know how to manipulate his way around a difficult course. Accurate ball-strikers essentially. And quality players too, you will do well to find anyone at high odds taking the title with Snedeker, D.Johnson and Mickelson all winning here in the past 5 years.
If you are interested in who’s involved in the pro-am, here’s a list:
Hunter Mahan (20/1 Ladbrokes)
When you think of a player who fits the term ‘ball-striker’ we think of this man. Mahan is one of the best players in the game yet to win a major and we are sure one or more will come over the next few years. He was someone that we backed in 2013 and he put in a solid performance and was joint first-round leader with Brandt Snedeker. So he knows how to get to the top end of the leaderboard at Pebble Beach. He also finished runner-up to D.A.Points (along with his partner Bill Murray) back in 2011. The course form box is definitely ticked.
Even without his performance last week at the Phoenix Open, Mahan would have been firmly in our picks but the fact he finished T4 and 2 shots off Stadler only confirms to us he is the right man. His game looks to be in top shape with him being 8th total driving, 25th GIR% and 27th strokes gained-putting. And let’s not forget he has two top 10’s at the US Open and likewise at The Open. We strongly feel this will be Mahan’s week! An outright bet would be advised.
Check out his acting skills, cracking advert.
Jordan Spieth (25/1 Ladbrokes)
It is safe to say this will not be the first time we back the 20 year old in 2014. He has firmly asserted himself as one of the top, top players in the game. He definitely has an air of Tiger about him with the sheer amount of solid performances he puts in every time he plays. The rookie of 2013 had to play the majority of the courses blind and yet somehow managed to finish 10th in the money list and climb to 22nd in the world. That is some going. But now we see Spieth coming to tournaments which he has played before, and Pebble Beach was the scene of only his 3rd top 25 finish. And it also gave him the foundation to go on and finish T2 and T7 in his next two tournaments.
Pebble Beach will be a great memory in Spieth’s mind and with the immensely competitive nature that he possesses, a tournament of this stature will be one he will be gagging to do well at. Following his 2nd place at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at the start of January he followed most recently with a T19 at the Farmers Insurance Open where he held the lead after 36 holes with a stunning 2nd round of 63. We are confident he will play well here once again and has all the tools for technical courses like these to walk away with victory.
Graeme McDowell (40/1 Various)
Now McDowell has not played in over 2 months but with a consistent swing like his and a US Open victory at Pebble Beach under his belt, 40/1 is good value. It will be his debut at the pro-am and the first time he has returned to the course since his famous major win. And his partner in the pro-am is none other than his dad. So it should be a fun, nostalgic time for the Northern Irishman. Last year saw McDowell claim the RBC Heritage and French Open, both on tracks where accuracy and methodical play was vital. And a similar game will be needed here.
Not much else needs to be said about him, he will be confident from the off as he goes down memory lane around Pebble Beach.
Aaron Baddeley (110/1 Stan James)
For a man who has won 3 times on the tour, his name really hasn’t been seen at the top of leaderboards for quite some time. But Pebble Beach is somewhere that has brought the best out of him over the past 3 years with finishes of 4th, 6th and 12th. And this course is one where previous success brings more success. He is yet to contend in a tournament this year but we have seen glimpses of the Australian that suggest he will be bringing his ‘A’ game to Pebble Beach. And he seems to be very hot on the greens this year being 4th in strokes gained-putting which will massive on the tough surfaces this week. He’s also 10th in sand saves. At three figure odds, he is certainly worth a punt.
Retief Goosen (150/1 Stan James)
It’s an honour to back the South African, a real favourite of ours back in the day. Despite his age, Pebble Beach still seems to be a place where he plays his best stuff finishing 9th last year and 3rd in 2009. And four weeks ago saw him finish 8th at the Sony Open in Hawaii which shows his game is still on it in 2014. It will take an experienced head like Retief’s to plot his way around the course and being 12th in strokes gained-putting will come in handy too. And we can’t forget his US Open wins in 2001 and 2004. Chuck some spare change on him.