This Pro-Am has been played on a variety of courses around Pebble Beach since 1947, though it has only been known under this name since 1986. It usually produces a world-class winner, with 17 of the 23 champions since that name change bagging a Major at some stage of their career. Experienced players tend to thrive, as illustrated by the fact that seven of the last ten players to make the top five were over the age of 40.
There are numerous course specialists and multiple winners, most notably tournament favourite and three-time Pebble Beach champion, Phil Mickelson. However, while the winners have tended to be fairly predictable, outsiders have also prospered, with over half of all those placed over the last five years starting at above 100/1.
Due to its unfortunate position on the calendar, it’s often played in bad weather and was actually abandoned before 36 holes could be played in 1996. Last year’s renewal was reduced to 54 holes.
Course and stats
We have a rare opportunity this week to get an advance viewing of the US Open venue, as Pebble Beach will host this year’s second Major for the first time since Tiger‘s runaway victory in 2000. Conditions will be much easier of course, so as not to penalise the amateurs, but unlike most Pro-Ams this tournament presents a genuine all-round test.
All three courses; Pebble Beach, Spyglass and Monterey; are difficult if the wind gets up. Apart from the weather, the key to Pebble Beach, which hosts two of the rounds, is small greens that place a great emphasis on tee to green accuracy plus a high-class short game. Not surprisingly, the key stats have been greens in regulation, putting average and scrambling.
3pts ew RETIEF GOOSEN @ 16/1 (GENERAL, 18/1 STAN JAMES)
If we’re looking for a world-class, Major champion with good course form, Goosen certainly fits the profile. Whatever the ongoing concerns about his sudden inability to close out tournaments, he has been very consistent of late. Goose hasn’t missed a top 25 for six months, and has registered top tens in seven of his last ten events.
Pebble Beach really is ideal for this links-loving, two-time US Open champion as seen in both previous efforts on this course. Goosen was third on his tournament debut last year, and 12th place in that US Open ten years ago was, at the time, his best ever effort in the US. As one of the best ‘bad weather players’, he must rate a strong contender both this week and in June.
2pts ew MATT KUCHAR @ 28/1 (BETFRED, SPORTINGBET, PADDY POWER)
Kuchar is playing so well right now that he must warrant consideration every week. He’s only missed one top 20 since last August, including a win and three near-misses. I’m not concerned about the three-putt that cost him a play-off chance when carrying our money at the Bob Hope Classic, as the rest of his final round effort was superb. The fact he’s often been thriving on courses where he’d previously struggled bodes well for Pebble Beach, as he’s registered two top 15s here in the last three years, when in nowhere near his current form.
2pts ew MIKE WEIR @ 25/1 (28/1 EXPEKT)
No Pebble Beach Pro-Am would be the same without an each-way bet on this course specialist supreme. Weir has a remarkably consistent record here, reaching the top four in five of the last seven renewals. Amazingly given the number of chances he’s had, he’s still looking for a first course win, though we know from his wider efforts that bottle isn’t a problem. Weir started the season well enough with sixth place at Bob Hope and, like Goosen, holds a cracking chance both this week and in June’s US Open.
1pt ew DAVIS LOVE @ 55/1 (BET365, STAN JAMES)
Despite failing to give us any sort of run for our money last week, I’m prepared to give Davis one more chance to build on an excellent seasonal debut in Hawaii. Love has won this event title twice before, in 2001 and 2003. Even over the last five years, when his game has generally been on a downward spiral, he’s registered a couple of top tens and has a worst finish of 33rd. Again, he fits the criteria in terms of experience and Major-champion status.
Only a handful of players in this line up have hit more greens in regulation than Trahan over the last three months, suggesting that he’s capable of landing a third PGA Tour title some time soon. Having registered a couple of recent top sevens, he at least looks overdue a place payout and as he was sixth in this event last year, there’s every reason to think this could be the week.