Winner’s Share – $1,224,000
Course –Pebble Beach Golf Links (6,816 yards par 72), Monterey Peninsula Country Club (6,838 yards par 70), Spyglass Hill Golf Course (6,858 yards par 72)
Our 2014 Picks – Jordan Spieth (T4), Hunter Mahan (6th), Graeme McDowell (T7), Aaron Baddeley(T56), Retief Goosen (MC)
Andy Garcia, Huey Lewis, Ray Romano, Michael Bolton and Bill Murray. No, it’s not the line-up for The Late Late Show with future host James Corden, but actually 5 names who will be teeing it up at Pebble Beach this week.
This fantastic tournament shows off not just celebrities, but opens our eyes to the wonderful world of true links golf. We’ve seen all sorts of madness on the 3 tracks that play host to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and expect no different again in 2015.
Pebble Beach is a famous course that’s hosted 6 major championships, most recently in 2010 where Graeme McDowell came out on top. We all know what the short 6,838 yard par 70 offers – strategic, windy and difficult shot making to go with the variable and inevitable windy conditions.
The par 3 7th is one of the most famous sights in golf and has been a trap to so many in the past. But only 2 of the 4 rounds will be played here as it’s traditional for the other 2 to take place at the Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Spyglass Hill Golf Course. Both come in under 7,000 yards and will test the field in a similar way to Pebble Beach. Spyglass is often regarded as the tougher of the ‘other’ 2 tracks – with the various hazards and small, elevated greens. If there are consistent birdies to be made, it will have to be on the Monterey course.
We’ve seen so many varying types of golfers win over these 3 courses, with bombers (Dustin Johnson), creative geniuses around on and the greens (Brandt Snedeker, Phil Mickelson) and iron gurus (Jimmy Walker, Vijay Singh) becoming champion. On the whole, the winner will be a solid and experienced links player. A manipulator of the golf ball and strategic in their shot making to understand when to attack and defend – in other words, ball-strikers.
It’s proven that rarely do we get a winner here who hasn’t already bagged themselves a PGA title. Since Tiger Woods won the trophy back in 2000, the average PGA Tour victories before their Pebble Beach win is 10.6. That says it all really…
DON’T FORGET – Our weekly competition with renowned magazine Golf Monthly continues, take a peak at the end of our selections to see how our stakes have been distributed this time.
You can follow us throughout the week on Twitter @downthe18th for the latest news, betting + banter. Please get in touch and let us know what you think of our picks and who you fancy as well!
Nick Watney (33/1 various)
As we’ve said before, you’ll often find the top players doing well at this tournament, so sometimes it’s difficult to find value, but we are incredibly happy with our selections this week and to have Nick Watney kicking things off for us may seem strange at first.
He hasn’t won a tournament since 2012, he only had a couple of top 10’s all of last season and has simply struggled for form.
BUT, this is a lad with 10 professional wins to his name – 5 PGA Tour titles and a Nike sponsorship. He is no mug. And we really feel there are a few signs (admittedly we said it a couple of times last year) that he is close to getting back to something near his best.
He was very much in the hunt last week for the title, but just like so, so many around him, he struggled on Sunday, shooting a respectable +1 to finish T7. He looked fantastic tee-to-green, finding himself in 6th in GIR and T14 for driving accuracy throughout the week. He has been inconsistent with his putter, but what’s impressed us the most is that rhythm he’s showing with his irons.
That’s where he is ridiculously dangerous and he should now be coming to a tournament in high spirits and somewhere he’s played well before. He’s had a couple of top 10s here and above all, he’s a proven links player.
He’s finished T7 at The Open and recorded a couple of T20 finishes, so he knows his way round a seaside track. Never has there been a greater chance for Watney to re-enter the winners circle.
Chris Kirk (33/1 various)
What a year Chris Kirk had in 2014. He nearly pushed his way into the Ryder Cup team and his consistency was ridiculous. He showed that, on his day, there are few better tee-to-green stalwarts on Tour.
Now, you may be wondering how on earth he’s got into our reckoning considering his lackadaisical start to the year, but there’s enough about him, especially at mid-range odds, for us to go there.
Firstly, let’s get this year out the way. No, it hasn’t been great when you compare it to 2014, but look closer and it’s not been awful. He started off with a T4 at the McGladrey, went onto finish T14 at the WGC and then T14 at the Hyundai. That is impressive form. The 3 events since have not warranted a top 10, but he’s been in and around shooting some mixed scores. At the Sony, he finished with a 64 after a 74 on the Saturday. Last week he opened with a 67, before 2 over par rounds in bad conditions. But boil it all down and he is actually putting really well.
38th in strokes gained for the season and 11th last week tell that tale and his irons have seemed to let him down in the past few weeks. That should change considering he’s coming onto a course where he finished 2nd in 2013, shooting 3 ridiculously low rounds.
He is another top links player, as we mentioned in our Open betting last year. In 2013-14 out of 12 links tournaments, he found 4 top 5s and a win, then going onto finish T19 at The Open. Not bad.
Freddie Jacobson – WITHDRAWN
If you’ve followed us over the past few years, you’ll know we’re big fans of Freddie Jacobson. However, he had never returned us any many until he finished T2 at the Wyndham last year and boy were we buzzing.
The big Swede is widely regarded as one of the top players on the greens and he is starting to show that once again. 9th in putting average for the last 2 weeks and clearly 1st overall for the season. He is simply irresistible with the short stick and when you holing them, the rest of your game will start to pick up.
He was T14 for driving accuracy in his T32 finish last week, but he dropped 11 positions after a +3 final day in this horrendous conditions. We saw quite a bit of him over in Phoenix and he played solidly for his T7 finish. He was driving it so well – 9th for the week – and he often had chances to attack the pins.
He looked very good on the Par 3’s, which are notoriously difficult this week, so no reason why he shouldn’t do well here at high odds. Plus, he’s recorded a T7 finish at Pebble Beach before, back in 2013.
Zac Blair (100/1 various)
Zac Blair may be a rookie on the PGA Tour, but he’s made a stellar start and is part of this endless batch of ridiculously talented youngsters coming through. 8 tournaments played and 3 finishes inside the top 12. That is some going and whilst we know you need experience at the top of the game and on this sort of track, we were too intrigued not to back the 25-year old.
Interestingly, he isn’t one of these young guns that absolutely batters a ball, but he is more methodical and an accurate iron player who relies on his short game. That is one MASSIVE box ticked for this tournament.
He started the year in Hawaii finishing T6, shooting 3 rounds in the 60’s, before a MC and then last week a T11. He remarkably shot a 69 on Sunday when the wind was battering the players and that shows us he has the ability to manipulate his ball flight and keep his score ticking. Impressive.
Plus he was 1st by some considerable distance in putting average, whilst he was 10th for driving accuracy. Over the season he is 24th for sand-save and 6th for scrambling, which all in all show us how good a player this lad is around the greens. That’ll hold him in great stead for the future, but it could be even better in the short term because he has all the tools to be a surprise on these links tracks.
Shane Lowry (50/1 various)
Yes, our 2nd player out of the 5 who has never played here before, but in Shane Lowry we have a bonafide links specialist.
We can only assume that he’s making the trip over to Pebble Beach for the first time because he knows deep down he could really do well here. Out of 7 links events last year he found 4 top 10s, including a T9 at The Open and a T2 in Wales.
We undoubtedly had reservations about his pedigree on the PGA Tour, but when you look at his history, you see that he has made the trip over a few times and done well, on the whole.
Firstly, just last week he came over for the Farmers and kamikazeed up the leaderboard on Sunday to finish T7. No real surprise considering how comfortable (well comfortable in terms of his game, he would of been bloody freezing) in those ridiculous conditions.
Before that, you look at his major finishes and can see that he doesn’t mind being in illustrious company. 5 made cuts out of his 8 appearance is not bad going for someone so young and raw. In 2013 he finished T15 at the Valero Texas Open and T9 at the WGC Matchplay.
His iron game and ability to move the ball will be a great help on these courses and he will be absolutely buzzing after a heroic final day effort at the Farmers. He could really be a surprise package.
Every week we’re running a weekly betting competition on both Tours with esteemed magazine Golf Monthly. It is a bit of fun between us and them to see who has the better tipsters! We have £10 to put on each tournament and will write up a weekly post for their site detailing the horrors we are sure to endure throughout the year – so keep an eye out.
It will also (for the first time from us at DownThe18th) show some sort of staking plan we have for out bets. Obviously, this isn’t the exact stakes we will put on our players, some weeks we won’t even enter a couple of our picks, but at least it can be shown roughly where our thoughts are money wise.
Our £10 against Golf Monthly will be as follows –
£1.50 e/w on Nick Watney at 30/1
£1.50 e/w on Chris Kirk at 30/1
£1.00 e/w on Zac Blair at 100/1
£1.00 e/w on Shane Lowry at 40/1
Each way bets ¼ odds for top 6 finish. Prices sourced from Paddy Power
Find the Golf Monthly Preview will be published here when available –
Current Standings after 4 weeks
DownThe18th Golf Monthly
European Tour: £-29.20 European Tour: £-30
PGA Tour: £-15.38 PGA Tour: £57
Total: £-45.08 Total: £27
Golf Monthly leads by: £72.08