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

Last year, Snedeker closed with a superb 65 to finish two clear of Chris Kirk. “Sneds” will be back to try and win again, but he’ll face stern competition from a field that includes popular four-time winner Phil Mickelson, two-time champion Dustin Johnson and a number of European stars – Rafael Cabrera-Bello, Graeme McDowell, Freddie Jacobson and Padraig Harrington to name a few.

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 70 compared to 72 at the other two venues, that means the 72-hole par for the tournament will be 286.

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. From the world of sport, Andy Roddick, Wayne Gretzky, Kelly Slater and Aaron Rodgers will start, so too actors like Kurt Russell, Don Cheadle and Andy Garcia.

It looks like being pretty chilly in Monterey this week with a slight chance of rain.

Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula CC and Spyglass Hill, California
Date: Feb 6-9
Course stats: Pebble Beach – par 72, 6,816 yards; The Shore Course – par 70, 6,838 yards; Spyglass Hill – par 72, 6,858 yards
Purse: $6,600,000 Winner: $1,188,000
Defending Champion: Brandt Snedeker (-19)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Friday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Saturday 8 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 9 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm

Player Watch:
Jimmy Walker – He’s currently leading the FedEx Cup points list and was tied third in last year’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Graeme McDowell – He has great memories of Pebble Beach having won the U.S. Open here in 2010. He has four consecutive top-20 finishes coming into this event.

Chris Kirk – Runner-up here last year and currently third on the FedEx Cup points list. He’ll be looking for another good week.

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.

Where next?
European Tour –
Joburg Open preview