AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Pebble Beach Golf Links (Host Course)
Spyglass Hill Golf Club
Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Shore Course)
Pebble Beach, Calif.,
Pebble Beach Golf Links (Host Course)
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Poa annua; 3,500 square feet on average (very small)
Rough: Perennial ryegrass at 2”
Water Hazards: The Pacific Ocean would qualify
Course Architect: Jack Neville and Douglas Grant (1919); Ed Conner and Jack Nicklaus (1991)
Winner’s Share: $1,188,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Brandt Snedeker coasted to a two-shot victory over Chris Kirk as he fired 19-under par to raise the trophy.
Dates: February 6-9
Format: The professionals will play all three courses before cutting the field down to the top 60 players and ties. The professionals will play with the amateurs on Sunday at Pebble Beach.
Notes: Back to Poa annua greens and pro-am format this week.
Spyglass Hill Golf Club
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Poa annua; 5,000 square feet on average
Rough: Perennial ryegrass and Poa annua at 2”
Water Hazards: 4
Course Architect: Robert Trent Jones (1966)
Notes: Spyglass was the 17th most difficult course used on TOUR last year. Stay away in Yahoo! There were only 21 rounds in the 60s last year.
Monterey Peninsula Country Club
Par: 71 (34-37)
Greens: Bentgrass and Poa annua; 7,000 square feet on average
Rough: Perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass at 2”
Water Hazards: 1
Course Architect: Robert Baldock and Jack Neville (1960); Mike Stranz
Notes: Gamers, two things: Each year MPCC has increased in difficulty and it has five par threes with three par fives. Got that?
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the first 11 events of the new wraparound 2013-14 season. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (2), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed, Scott Stallings and Kevin Stadler have lifted the winner’s trophy. Only Chris Kirk, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Reed and Kevin Stadler can join Jimmy Walker on two victories unless Walker himself takes home the title for win No. 3!
After racking up 12 first-time winners in 2013, the new season has added only two more in the first 11 events. Jimmy Walker won the Frys.com and Kevin Stadler won the WMPO last week to join the list of invitees to Augusta in April.
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and was joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia and Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua and now Kevin Stadler, 33, at WMPO. Scott Stallings, 28, Patrick Reed (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29) and Harris English, (24) are the twenty-somethings on the board. The Young Guns now have six of 11 wins to start the season. The Old Guys were led last week by Greg Chalmers, 40, and his T15. Not a good week for the Old Guys!
Pay Attention: It’s FREE
Since 1994, there has been ONE, foreign-born winner, Vijay Singh, in 2004. Baseball, apple pie and winners at Pebble Beach, right?
In the last 20 years, only Matt Gogle (2002), Aaron Oberholser (2006) and D.A. Points (2011) have made this their maiden victory on TOUR. It also gets you a job on The Golf Channel when you quit playing so congrats D.A. whenever you decide to hang it up! Who knew?
Rookies don’t win here. I gave up after 30 years of looking for the last one. Brett Ogle (1993) is the last player to win in their maiden voyage.
Mark O’Meara has won this tournament five times. Phil Mickelson has won it four times. They both shared the tournament record of 268 until Brandt Snedeker beat it by a shot last year.
The last player to defend their title was Dustin Johnson in 2009 and 2010. Before that, it was Mark O’Meara in 1989-90.
The OWGR sends 13 of the top 50 this week to the most beautiful place on Earth, in my opinion.
Graeme McDowell did win the 2010 U.S. Open here.
Charlie Wi won the California State Amateur here as well in 1990.
Scott Langley won the Pro-Junior First Tee with Dana Quigley here in 2006.
Kevin Kisner won the Pebble Beach Callaway Invitational last March. Tommy Gainey was victorious in 2012 and John Mallinger in 2010. #anglescovered
Past Champions in the Field
2013 Brandt Snedeker
2012 Phil Mickelson
2011 D.A. Points
2010 Dustin Johnson
2009 Dustin Johnson
2007 Phil Mickelson
2005 Phil Mickelson
2004 Vijay Singh
2003 DL III
2001 DL III
Inside the Ropes
Thankfully for gamers this is the final week of the season with multiple courses in use. No more questions about rotation, par fives or scoring averages but rather the old fashion early or late debate. Ah, refreshing! The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is played over three courses the tournament’s first three days. The final day, which does include the LIVE Pro-Am, will be played on Pebble Beach.
Before we get started, let’s remember that is NOT a major championship. Just because the U.S. Open was held here in 2010 does not make this weeks’ tournament in that class. There is NO CHANCE that the course set up will be difficult because amateurs are playing and they don’t want rounds that take 12 hours. This goes the same for Spyglass and MPCC. The greens on all three courses will be running at a manageable 10’ on the Stimpmeter, which is the slowest rating on TOUR. Each course has its own defense mechanism but the tournament will be won, essentially, on Pebble Beach.
At just over 6,800 yards, this American gem has proven again that great courses don’t have to be 7,800 to provide a challenge. A combination of winds, rain and small greens can put up a decent fight even if it is the shortest course on TOUR. Bombers have had their way in this event over time but Snedeker reminded us that players who have excellent short games can also make their presence felt. Charlie Wi was second in 2012 and nobody mistakes him for Dustin Johnson off the tee. He fired 61 on MPCC in 2012. Graeme McDowell won a U.S. Open at Pebble as well so length is not THE determining factor.
Players who are West Coast or North Coast in California have the most experience putting Poa annua greens and that’s a factor this week. Experience in general around these parts doesn’t hurt either so I’ll be looking at some course horses as well. Finally, it doesn’t hurt to look at players who have been on form lately.
The players that should be on your fantasy rosters and should be making the most noise come the weekend. Yahoo! gamers, each player’s Yahoo! group is in ( ).
Jason Day (B): Every time he’s included in the column I shudder when I see he’s only won once on TOUR. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE? He’s only 26 and he’s ready to pop. He opened 2014 with T2 at FIO and plays well just about everywhere. Pebble is no different as he’s finished sixth twice in four starts and also has a T14. He was 14th in the all-around last season and 11th in scoring average. A massive season is on the cards and he’s already off to a great start.
Hunter Mahan (B): His last three trips around the Monterey Peninsula have resulted in second, T15 and T16 last year. He opened up the season at Torrey with no rounds under par but followed that with four rounds of par or better at WMPO. He’s trending in the perfect direction to a course he’s had recent successes. BANG.
Dustin Johnson (B): Last year he played with his girlfriend’s dad and missed the cut. This year, he’ll be playing with his soon-to-be father-in-law so THAT pressure is long gone. Johnson and Paulina Gretzky are engaged and the 2009 and 2010 champ also has a T7 and T5 to brag about in six starts here. Did I mention that he’s already won in the wraparound season and finished sixth in his other start? Oh, that too. #Someguyshavealltheluckandgame
Jimmy Walker (C): Gamers opined the reason that DYNOMITE MC at FIO was the presence of playing with Tiger Woods Thursday and Friday. The theory was valid until @TourWifeTravels, Erin Walker, his wife, let us all know on the Twitter that he was sick as a dog that week. Information is power people and the one percent hesitation I had for him this week is long gone now that he’s healthy. Not many guys have three consecutive top nine finishes at this event. No player besides Walker has won twice this season.
Phil Mickelson (A): Another week, another question on Mickelson and what to expect. For gamers who hedged last week in the Yahoo! game with Moore, I’m thinking that you didn’t burn a start on him. He looked like he didn’t have any problems throwing the ball, er, I mean swinging the club in the desert so that’s positive. One round of four under par was the negative. In his last 10 starts here he’s won three times and has added three other top 10s. The other four outings were T60, T55, T38 and MC. Gamers who believe he is physically fit will have a hard time leaving him out of most formats this week. The skeptics will pray that their skepticism pays off and they can save a start. There is no other golfer that moves the meter like Mickelson does in the fantasy world, period. He’s ranked here under the assumption he’s fit and will play four rounds. I’m benching him this week.
Jordan Spieth (B): If gamers are still wondering when he’s going to “wake up” maybe they are the ones trapped in a bad dream. He fired 10-under total Thursday and Friday playing along Tiger Woods at the FIO before a bum ankle slowed him down to 75-75 on the weekend. His ankle, by all reports, is healed and he should be back to his ball-striking best as he returns to the site of his first-ever made cut as a pro last year. His worst round in his T22 maiden was 70. #HookEm
Chris Kirk (B): His 66-64 weekend in 2013 should have him full of confidence as he tries to rebound from a disappointing WMPO. After opening with 65 last week in Scottsdale, the wheels wobbled as he failed to break par the final three days. Kirk has already won and finished second in this young season and has added two other top 25s. I’m ready to hop back on!
Graeme McDowell (C): After a bizarre 2013 that essentially saw him win or MC, McDowell, according to his new blog at bbc.com, has refocused after 10 weeks and is raring to kick off his season. He should be quite familiar with most of the surroundings as he hoisted his first and only major at Pebble Beach in 2010. He’ll be playing with his old man this week and if he hits his usual amount of fairways and putts, he should start 2014 off on a positive note. I’m always nervy starting guys after long layoffs.
Pat Perez (C): In four starts in calendar 2014 Perez’s new life, thoughts and coach have made a profound difference. His T8 at Sony has been backed up T2 at FIO and 11th last week at WMPO. He knows his way around Poa annua and his solid short game should help him continue his hot streak this week.