Having seen his world number two status snatched away by Steve Stricker over the weekend, Pebble Beach offers Mickelson an immediate opportunity to set the record straight. He must rate as the man to beat as a three-time former champion, but will need to significantly improve on last week’s putting performance. 8/1 doesn’t interest me.
Twentieth at Riviera was a respectable seasonal debut for Furyk on a course where he rarely prospers, so he looks well primed for a return to an event where he’s made the top six on four occasions. As usual, Jim is easy to fancy for a place but rather less so for the win market as he approaches three seasons without a title.
The defending champion has clearly taken an instant liking to this course, and Johnson is a better all-round player than he was 12 months ago. His chance is obvious having finished third at Riviera, but the bookies aren’t giving anything away at 22/1.
Another leading candidate, having finished eighth or better on four of his last six starts. O’Hair made the top ten last year in what was by far his best effort to date in this event.
Watney was again on this week’s shortlist as he’s already shown good form at Pebble Beach when seventh in 2006. He’s a vastly superior player nowadays and must rate a big contender.
Others to consider
Harrington was fifth in the 2000 US Open here, and must rate a big contender in June. However, a best of 14th from three tries in this event, plus a poor show at Riviera, probably makes him one to oppose this week.
Donald has three top 20s from five tries in this event, and looks likely to be there or thereabouts after returning to form at the weekend. His conversion ratio remains poor though.
Scott makes his Pebble Beach debut, no doubt with one eye on the US Open. While he showed nothing last week to recommend a bet now, Scott is too dangerous to write off.
The consistent South African has made four top 25s from six visits. He’s just the type to challenge in this event, but remains one to avoid after bottling too many chances to break his PGA Tour duck.
Three visits around the turn of the century produced surprisingly poor efforts from a player who one might think would be ideally suited by Pebble Beach. Garcia is hard to fancy this week because of a severe lack of confidence, but couldn’t be ruled out of the US Open here in June.
Sunday’s top 20 was his third in a row, and Snedeker remains a player to follow in the big forthcoming events. He’s shown very little here previously, though.
Top tens on his last couple of starts suggest Na could improve further on last season’s consistent figures, but he’s played poorly on all three previous visits here.
It seems incredible that a man with one title, three runners-up spots and seven top tens at Pebble Beach this century could be an 80/1 chance, but sadly Vijay has completely lost the plot with the putter right now.
Only the very best youngsters tend to thrive on these difficult courses, (Tiger and Mickelson, for example), so this is a big test for the brilliant Fowler.
Like Fowler, Ishikawa could achieve anything in the game. He’s already dominating the Japanese Tour at the age of 18, so it’s not impossible that he could breakthrough at a big price at this higher level soon.
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