The AT&T Pebble Beach 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The event is contested over three courses, though there will be a change to the schedule this year as Poppy Hills has been replaced by the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The other two tracks are Spyglass Hill and the famous links at Pebble Beach. The latter will be the venue for the final round and for the US Open this June.
It should be a good chance for the top players to test themselves around the layout that will host the year’s second Major. It seems strange then that only seven of the world’s top-30 players are on the start list.
Dustin Johnson won last year’s rain-shortened event and there’s a threat of rain again this Friday. But tournament organisers are confident they’ll get 72 holes completed this time round.
Venue: Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula CC and Spyglass Hill, California
Date: Feb 11-14
Course stats: Pebble Beach – par 72, 6,816 yards; Spyglass Hill – par 72, 6,833 yards; Shore – par 71, 6,361 yards
Purse: $6,100,000 Winner: $1,080,000
Defending Champion: Dustin Johnson (-15)
Thursday 11 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Friday 12 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 8pm
Saturday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6pm
Sunday 14 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 6.30pm
Luke Donald – Played some great stuff last week at the Northern Trust Open and has finished in the top-20 three times here.
Retief Goosen – Has finished in the top-10 in eight of his last nine competitive starts. He’s overdue a victory and it could well come this week.
Phil Mickelson – He’s not on great form but it’s hard to ignore him in a field that includes only two other players in the World’s top-10. (Jim Furyk and Padraig Harrington).
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.