The PGA Tour heads for California this week and one of its most famous tournaments. Jimmy Walker defends the title at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Lowdown:
The PGA Tour heads for California this week and one of its most famous tournaments. Jimmy Walker defends the title at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

A great field has assembled for this event including last week’s winner Jason Day and the 2014 Pebble Beach Pro-Am champion Jimmy Walker. In that event Walker played a poor final round of 74 but narrowly held on to take the win by a single shot from Dustin Johnson.

Johnson starts again this week, it’s his second tournament back on the circuit since an extended break. DJ has a superb record at Pebble Beach. He won this event in 2009 and 2010 and was, as mentioned, runner-up last season.

The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is one of the most popular tournaments on the PGA Tour circuit. With stars of stage and screen competing, the event always attracts large crowds. The tournament began life in the 1930s when Bing Crosby decided to give some of his golfing friends the chance to play with the top professionals by creating a Pro-Am event. The Second World War intervened but, in 1946, the competition was revived and it moved to it’s present home at Pebble Beach. Since then there have been some notable winners: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods amongst them.

The event is contested over three courses – the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Spyglass Hill and the famous links at Pebble Beach. The Shore Course has a par of 71 compared to 72 at the other two venues, that means the 72-hole par for the tournament will be 287.

All 156 competitors will play each of the courses once before a 54-hole cut. The top 60 and ties will then contest the final round over Pebble Beach.

As ever, a great cast-list of celebrities will be teeing it up this week. Bill Murray is always good comic value at the event, and he’s joined by fellow actors Andy Garcia and Chris O’Donnell, amongst others. Sports stars like Kelly Slater (surfer) and Wayne Gretzky (ice hockey) tee it up, as do musicians Huey Lewis and Kenny G.

The weather forecast for the week is excellent. It should be sunny and warm with only light winds.

Venue: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California
Date: Feb 12-15
Course stats: Pebble Beach – par 72, 6,816 yards; The Shore Course – par 71, 6,867 yards; Spyglass Hill – par 72, 6,953 yards
Purse: $6,800,000 Winner: $1,224,000
Defending Champion: Jimmy Walker (-11)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 12 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Friday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Saturday 14 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 15 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm

Player Watch:
Jordan Spieth – He may have missed the cut at Torrey Pines, but don’t write Spieth off this week. He finished 2014 strongly, and recorded a top-10 in the Phoenix Open. He was tied fourth in this event last year.

Nick Watney – He might just be coming back into something like his best form. He was tied seventh last week at Torrey Pines, despite a poor weekend. He has also had some decent results in this event – two top-10s.

Spencer Levin – Something of an outsider, but there are indicators that Levin could enjoy a good week here. He’s had two top-10 finishes in this tournament and he comes into it on the back of a, confidence-boosting, tied 11th place finish at Torrey Pines.

Key hole: 7th at Pebble Beach. Only 106 yards, the key to negotiating this hole is managing the wind. Some days it can be a flick with a sand wedge, others it’ll require a knocked-down 7-iron.

Skills required: Versatility. Players will have to contend with the different challenges posed by three courses as well as playing with amateur golfers.