Best bets for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

February 1, 2023 05:22 AM

Max Homa is always a contender in events held in his home state of California. Last weekend proved to be no different as Homa trailed by five shots heading into Saturday's final round but overcame the deficit to win the Farmers Insurance Open by two strokes over Keegan Bradley and Collin Morikawa. Homa, who opened at 28-1, shot a 66 on Saturday and ended up leading the field for Strokes Gained: Approach and Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green. Homa, at a career-high No. 13 in the OWGR, has four victories in his last 29 starts and now has to be considered a contender for majors going forward, most notably the U.S. Open later this summer in California at the Los Angeles Country Club.

Overnight leader Sam Ryder began with a two-shot lead and started his final round with a birdie, but bogeys on the seventh and eighth a double bogey at the 15th saw him finish with a 3-over 75 and a share of fourth alongside Sahith Theegala and Sungjae Im. Jon Rahm was the pre-tournament favorite at +450 but settled for a T-7 along with Jason Day. Tony Finau and Hideki Matsuyama rounded out the top 10 with T-9 finishes.

Like many top-end players, Homa will not be in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am field this week. With the Saudi International drawing some players (most of whom are now part of LIV Golf), being the event immediately held before the WM Phoenix Open and the Genesis Invitational "designated events," plus the pro-am format, Pebble Beach takes a big hit in terms of field quality and depth with just seven of the OWGR Top 50 here this week.

Jordan Spieth, the 2017 event winner and last year’s runner-up, heads up the field at 9-1. Matt Fitzpatrick (10-1) finished sixth here last year and returns after three weeks off. Victor Hovland (11-1) won the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach in 2018.

Maverick McNealy (20-1) grew up at Pebble Beach and finished runner-up two years ago. Tom Hoge (20-1) cashed a 60-1 ticket for us last year here and returns as defending champion. Seamus Power (22-1) set a 36-hole scoring record in this event last year with consecutive 64s and held a five-stroke lead heading into the weekend but could not hold up for four rounds and finished T-9.

Andrew Putnam (25-1) and Joel Dahmen (45-1) finished T-6 last year. Justin Rose (28-1), Keith Mitchell (35-1), Matt Kuchar (35-1) and Denny McCarthy (40-1) follow on the odds board.



The Event

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was founded in 1937 as the Bing Crosby National Pro-Am and was played near San Diego before being moved to the Monterey Peninsula in 1947 after World War II. It was a 54-hole event until 1958. The Crosby name remained on the event through 1985, eight years after Bing’s death, when AT&T took over as the title sponsor in 1986 and has stayed in that role ever since. The Monterey Peninsula Foundation, chaired by the iconic Clint Eastwood, is the longtime event organizer and philanthropic organization. Eastwood was a regular participant in this event until 2016 and still serves as the tournament’s host and regularly appears in the CBS Sports booth for commentary over the tournament weekend.

The starting field consists of 156 professionals and 156 amateurs with each professional is paired with an amateur. A 54-hole cut is made after Saturday's round and 60 pros plus the 25 low pro-am teams will play Sunday. The field plays a three-course rotation consisting of Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club.

Many golfing legends have won here, including Phil Mickelson (1998, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2019), who is tied for five Pebble Beach wins with Mark O'Meara (1985, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997). Other multiple time winners include Sam Snead (1937, 1938, 1941, 1950), Jack Nicklaus (1967, 1972, 1973), Johnny Miller (1974, 1987, 1994), and Tom Watson (1977, 1978). Four players have won both an AT&T and a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach - Nicklaus, Watson, Tom Kite and Tiger Woods.

The Field

The following OWGR Top 50 players are in this week's field:

10. Matt Fitzpatrick

11. Viktor Hovland

16. Jordan Spieth

28. Seamus Power

29. Tom Hoge

32. Kevin Kisner

43. Kurt Kitayama

The complete field of professionals and celebrities can be found here.

The Courses

Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of the game’s most iconic courses. Designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant in 1919 and later renovated by Arnold Palmer and Thad Layton in 2016, it is a par-72, 6,972-yard coastal layout with nine holes played by the Pacific Ocean. Pebble Beach is the second-shortest annual course on the PGA Tour. It is also heavily bunkered (118 in all, most on tour). Wind can affect scoring here on this exposed track. However, the Poa/Ryegrass fairways are the fifth widest on the PGA Tour at an average of 40.9 feet. The Poa Annua greens are the smallest on tour (3,500 square feet) and slow (10.5 stimpmeter). Pebble Beach has been part of this event’s rotation since 1947 and typically plays as the hardest layout of the week.

Due to the angular hole layouts, Pebble Beach concedes the shortest average driving distance on tour, forcing layups on many holes off the tee, and almost completely removing any advantage for longer hitters. The emphasis on approach shots is even higher this week because of this course leading some of the lowest Greens In Regulation percentages on tour.

Comparable layouts to Pebble Beach include the other two courses in the rotation —Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula, as well as Port Royal, Sea Island, El Camaleon, and Waialae.

Spyglass Hill Golf Course is a par-72 of 7,041 yards that is a tree-lined links-style track. It was designed in 1966 by Robert Trent Jones Sr. and was lengthened a bit in a 2019 remodel. Even post-remodel, Spyglass is still the third shortest of the courses played annually on the PGA Tour. It has substantially more protection from the wind than does Pebble Beach but can play the most difficult of the three. Poa Annua greens also await the players as well, but they are larger (5,000 square feet) and slower (10 stimpmeter) than those at Pebble Beach. Spyglass Hill has been part of the event every year except one since 1967.

Monterey Peninsula Country Club is a par-71 of 6,957 yards that is a bit more of a coastal/links setup like Pebble Beach. It was designed in 1960 by Bob Baldock and Jack Neville and was redesigned in 2003 by Mike Strantz. Monterey typically plays the easiest of the three tracks. The fairways are a Bentgrass/Fescue mix and play into Poa Annua greens that average 6,000 square feet that roll a little faster at 12 on the stimpmeter.

Recent History/Winners

2022: Tom Hoge (-19/268); 60-1

2021: Daniel Berger (-18/270); 18-1

2020: Nick Taylor (-19/268); 160-1

2019: Phil Mickelson (-19/268); 25-1

2018: Ted Potter, Jr. (-17/270); 500-1

2017: Jordan Spieth (-19/268); 9-1

2016: Vaughn Taylor (-17/270); 300-1

2015: Brandt Snedeker (-22/265); 25-1

2014: Jimmy Walker (-11/276); 28-1

2013: Brandt Snedeker (-19/267); 14-1

2012: Phil Mickelson (-17/269); 25-1

2011: D.A. Points (-15/271); 80-1

2010: Dustin Johnson (-16/270); 22-1

Winning Trends

  • 15 of the last 16 winners had at least one previous PGA Tour win.
  • All of the last 13 winners had played in at least two previous AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Ams.
  • All of the last 14 winners had a finish of 16th or better in at least one of their previous 3 starts here.
  • 11 of the last 14 winners had at least one top-11 finish from earlier in the season.
  • 48 of the last 51 winners were Americans.

Statistical Analysis

Over the last seven Pebble Beach Pro-Ams, the winners averaged eighth in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach. Vaughn Taylor (2016) and Phil Mickelson (2019) led the field for SG: Approach during their winning weeks. Tom Hoge, last year's champion, ranked fourth in the category and Daniel Berger, the 2021 winner, ranked sixth.

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 24 rounds)

  1. Tom Hoge 33.6
  2. Russell Knox 24.5
  3. James Hahn 19.2
  4. Mark Hubbard 16.9
  5. Erik Van Rooyen 16.1
  6. David Lipsky 16
  7. Ben Griffin 15.2
  8. Nick Hardy 15.1
  9. Robby Shelton 14.9
  10. Ben Martin 14.8
  11. Chesson Hadley 13.1
  12. Alex Smalley 12.5
  13. Matthew NeSmith 11.7
  14. Lanto Griffin 11.4
  15. Trey Mullinax 10.9

These courses are all around 7,000 yards, so you do not have to bomb it off the tee to win here, nor do you have to hit every fairway as the rough is not all that penal. These are second-shot golf courses and Good Drives Gained is a category that also incorporates approach play.

Good Drives Gained (Last 24 rounds)

  1. Justin Suh 30.7
  2. Cameron Percy 23.5
  3. Kevin Yu 22.4
  4. Matthew NeSmith 21.9
  5. Joel Dahmen 21.8
  6. Matt Kuchar 18.3
  7. David Lipsky 18
  8. Ryan Armour 16.8
  9. Russell Knox 16.5
  10. Nate Lashley 15
  11. Justin Rose 14.9
  12. Satoshi Kodaira 14.8
  13. Henrik Norlander 12.8
  14. Ben Taylor 12.8
  15. Matt Fitzpatrick 12.7
  16. Will Gordon 12.7

Pebble Beach has the smallest greens on the PGA Tour at 3,500 square feet on average. Spyglass Hill has the sixth smallest and Monterey Peninsula, while much larger, is still smaller than tour average. So, with the greens tougher to hit, Strokes Gained: Around the Green carries extra importance.

Strokes Gained: Around The Green (Last 24 rounds)

  1. Scott Piercy 13.3
  2. Arjun Atwal 13.2
  3. Robby Shelton 10.7
  4. Byeong Hun An 10.6
  5. Kurt Kitayama 9.3
  6. D.A. Points 9.1
  7. Seamus Power 8.8
  8. Bill Haas 8.6
  9. Brendon Todd 8.3
  10. David Lipsky 8
  11. Andrew Putnam 8
  12. Ben Silverman 7.9
  13. Tyson Alexander 7.7
  14. Erik Barnes 7.7
  15. Luke Donald 7.4
  16. Sean O'Hair 7.4

Each of the three courses have three par-4s that measure 350-400 yards. Players will have to club down off the tee and can leave driver in the bag, so many approach shots will be wedges from 100-125 yards.

Strokes Gained Par 4s 350-400 Yards (Last 24 rounds)

  1. Alex Smalley 15.2
  2. Seung-yul Noh 13.5
  3. Thomas Detry 12.5
  4. Nick Hardy 11.1
  5. Justin Lower 10.6
  6. Brandon Wu 10.3
  7. Brian Stuard 9.8
  8. Will Gordon 8.3
  9. Denny McCarthy 8.2
  10. Austin Cook 7.8
  11. Matt Fitzpatrick 7.7
  12. Davis Riley 7.1
  13. Scott Piercy 7.1
  14. Joel Dahmen 6.8
  15. David Lipsky 6.7
  16. Seamus Power 6.7

Proximity Gained 100-125 Yards (Last 24 rounds)

  1. Russell Knox 12.8
  2. Seung-yul Noh 11.1
  3. Joseph Bramlett 10.9
  4. Robert Garrigus 9.8
  5. Tom Hoge 9.5
  6. David Lipsky 8
  7. Brendon Todd 7.3
  8. Nick Watney 7
  9. Brian Stuard 6.9
  10. Camilo Villegas 6.5

This marks the first event of the season in which players will be putting on Poa Annua throughout the tournament.

Strokes Gained Putting Poa Annua (Last 24 rounds)

  1. Matt Kuchar 28.1
  2. Kevin Kisner 22.5
  3. Denny McCarthy 21.7
  4. Webb Simpson 21
  5. Mark Hubbard 18.6
  6. Zac Blair 18
  7. Jimmy Walker 16.5
  8. Ted Potter Jr. 16.5
  9. Troy Merritt 15.1
  10. Maverick McNealy 15.1
  11. Brice Garnett 13.1
  12. Justin Rose 12.1
  13. Jordan Spieth 11.4
  14. JB Holmes 9.5


Seamus Power (22-1, DraftKings)

Power was all out of sorts in Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks ago but still managed to finish top 20 thanks to being seventh for Strokes Gained: Approach and second for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green.

Now he is back at courses off the coast where he thrives as evidenced by his win in Bermuda, third in Mayakoba and fifth at Sea Island in his last three starts in 2022. Furthermore, he was third (2022) at Waialae, fifth (2018) at Corales, sixth (2019) at Harbour Town, plus fourth (2021) and fifth (2022) at Sea Island, eight of Power’s 15 PGA Tour top-10 finishes have been on coastal courses.

Power has some scar tissue here from last year having led by five shots after 36 holes before finishing ninth. In addition, Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald is in the field this week, so this is a chance for the Irishman to impress without much European competition.

Justin Rose (35-1, Caesars Sportsbook)

Speaking of wanting to impress for the Ryder Cup, Rose knows this year is likely his last chance to be a player for the European team.

He is also working to get into the OWGR Top 50 (currently 71) to play in all four majors.

Rose started 2023 with a T-26 at the AMEX and a T-18 last weekend at the Farmers, where he ranked top 15 on approach.

David Lipsky (70-1, DraftKings)

Lipsky is never going to win on longer courses, but this rotation is in his wheelhouse.

He finished 24th on debut here last year but ranked tops in the field for Strokes Gained: Putting.

Lipsky was fourth three weeks ago in the Sony Open at Waialae and finished top 10 last winner at Mayakoba, so he has a good recent history on coastal courses.

Beau Hossler (80-1, BetMGM)

You may remember that Hossler was right in contention here last year with Jordan Spieth and eventual winner Tom Hoge before settling for third.

Hossler missed the cut last week at Torrey Pines, but closer examination shows how solid he was on the measured round on the South Course from tee to green, particularly off the tee, for which he ranked seventh. However, he really struggled on the greens ranking 133rd on the day. That is atypical for Hossler considering he is ranked eighth in this field for Strokes Gained: Putting and Strokes Gained: Short Game over the last 36 rounds.

Erik Van Rooyen (90-1, DraftKings)

Van Rooyen was excellent in his most recent start at the American Express. He gained 8.2 strokes from tee to green in his two rounds on the Stadium Course and shot an impressive Sunday round of 62, which was tied for the low round of the day, which led him to a sixth-place finish.

The best defense at Pebble Beach is wind, and Van Rooyen excels in windy conditions. EVR gains almost a stroke on the field per round in extremely windy conditions.

Nate Lashley (100-1, DraftKings)

Before missing the cut two weeks ago at the AMEX, Lashley finished seventh in the Sony Open at Waialae where he was fourth for Greens in Regulation, seventh for Scrambling, 14th for Ball Striking, eighth for Around the Green and fourth for Tee to Green.

Lashley was fifth here in 2021.

He has always been a quality player on coastal courses as evidenced by winning the 2017 Corales Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour, finishing eighth (2018) and seventh (2022) in Puerto Rico and fourth (2020) at Corales.

Troy Merritt (135-1, Circa Sports)

While Merritt missed the cut on his first five appearances here, he has been a consistent performer at Pebble Beach ever since — eighth in 2018, 25th in 2020, 16th in 2021 and fourth last year.

Merritt also tends to show up on coastal courses with a third last November at Mayakoba, third (2015), 10th (2019), 12th (2022) at the RBC Heritage.

Matchups (7-2 YTD; 3-0 last week)

Thomas Detry +115 over Andrew Putnam

Seamus Power -113 over Tom Hoge

Beau Hossler -125 over Kurt Kitayama

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