In a West Coast Swing that has taken us from the jaw-dropping beauty of Kapalua, to majestic Torrey Pines, and will soon close out at historic Riviera Country Club, it is none other than golf royalty known the world round in Pebble Beach this week.
Celebrating its 100th year next season, Pebble Beach Golf Links will host the 2019 U.S. Open. The course has hosted five of them before as well as one PGA Championship but this week remains as the standard Tour stop along Carmel Bay for The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am. Different from its hosting of major championships, three courses are used for this week’s event, and they are icons of The Monterey Peninsula as well in Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The three courses are each played once Thursday through Saturday with Sunday’s final round coming back to Pebble Beach for the top 60-players and ties.
Like we witnessed at Torrey Pines three weeks ago, all three seaside courses this week feature Poa Annua greens. The golf courses are not long and the fairways are wide but the greens are some of the smallest on the entire Tour schedule. Spyglass is the hardest course of the three and winds through the forest with tree-lined fairways.
The field this year has a few new twists that ought to make for an outstanding competition. Adam Scott is back for the first time since 2010 and only his second appearance ever. Branden Grace is playing the tournament for the first time and so is world number eight, Rory McIlroy. They will be introduced to playing with celebrities who play to the crowds and provide for quite a bit of light-hearted golf. It is welcomed by many players and at the same time, an arduous task or distraction for others.
The Kicker: We’ve had four straight tournaments on Tour decided by a playoff. A 5th straight this week would be a record. An exciting start to the season indeed – and Tiger returns next week.
Dustin Johnson (+6.45 Pinnacle) World number one is back stateside for the first time since he hammered his way to victory at Kapalua and he’s the favorite here with good reason. Johnson is a two-time winner at The AT&T with five additional Top 10 finishes. He took 3rd last year.
Jason Day (+11.31 Pinnacle) After withdrawing from the Pro Am in San Diego and nursing a sore back through round one of The Farmers, your eventual Torrey Pines winner has four Top 10 finishes here up north on the California coast including a 5th last year.
Rory McIlroy (+11.31 Pinnacle) This is McIlroy’s first appearance on The PGA Tour this season but he is coming off of two fine finishes in January on The European Tour, a 2nd in Dubai and a 3rd at Abu Dhabi. While this is his first ever appearance at Pebble, he won in 2015 up the street in San Francisco at Harding Park.
Phil Mickelson (+2800 5Dimes) Off of an impressive 5th place finish in Phoenix, Phil comes to a place at which he’s won four times in what will be his 21st appearance in the event. Mickelson took 2nd here in 2016.
Gary Woodland (+29.82 Pinnacle) Woodland was runner up to Rory back in 2015 at Harding Park and is off of a win in Phoenix. He took 5th here last year and hasn’t finished worse than 12th to begin 2018.
Brandt Snedeker (+3500 5Dimes) Like Jason Day and Mickelson, Snedeker is another player with a great deal of success at both Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines. He has two wins at The AT&T and finished 4th last year.
The Long Shots
Branden Grace (+4000 5Dimes) It will be interesting to see what the South African makes of his debut at this venue but he arrives in fine form as he spent his January on The European Tour going 2-15-37.
Brandon Harkins (+10000 5Dimes) A Bay Area kid, Harkins is plenty familiar with this track. He took 9th in Napa back in October, 8th in La Quinta four weeks ago, and followed that up with a 12th place finish at Torrey Pines.
Matt Jones (+15000 5Dimes) It will be his 11th straight trip to The Monterey Peninsula and he’s only missed one cut. His last three years here have gone 23-11-7. He missed the cut at both La Quinta and Torrey but took 2nd back in November at The Australian Open.
Kevin Streelman (+10000 Bookmaker) There are many excellent horses for courses in the field this week and if Dustin Johnson plays like he did at Kapalua, he could also dominate here but I really like what Streelman is doing this season and how it fits with what will be needed this week. He is 22nd on Tour in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, 4th in Greens in Regulation, and 5th in Scrambling. He hasn’t missed a cut this season and has gone 14-17 here the last two years. The leaderboard will likely have a great deal of star power on it come Sunday but I’m betting this guy is in the mix.
Get all of Brady Kannon’s plays this week RIGHT HERE