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ATT Pebble Beach Pro-Am Preview
by Matt Fargo - 02/04/2014
Make it four straight weeks that we were the bridesmaid as Graham DeLaet was our fourth straight runner up to open the season. The PGA Tour goes back to California this week to the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Pebble Beach Golf Links is one of three host courses for the event along with Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course. A traditional playing cut of the top 60 and ties will be made after 54 holes on Saturday giving players one extra day to make a move.
Although the Shore Course will play as a par 70 for the tournament, it will likely again replicate Poppy Hills in being the course where competitors feel they should post their best score of the week as it is the second shortest course on tour. Three years ago the field was cut from 180 to 156 players to help alleviate snails pace of some of the rounds. Some foursomes took over six hours to complete their rounds and the lesser field has helped alleviate some of that the last three years.
Pebble Beach is one of the players favorite stops on tour and for good reason. But it comes with a price. Hitting greens is essential to provide birdie opportunities and scoring on the par fives is also crucial. Experience has played a big role in this event for a good track record will take precedence over those who have not played much or played well here in the past. Last year was just the third time in eight years at Pebble Beach that the average score was under par and was the most under par in 16 years.
The defending champion is Brandt Snedeker (+2,500) who won by two shots over Chris Kirk thanks to a final round 65. Defending his title will not be easy as he has been playing below average to start the season as his best finish is a T58 over his last three starts. He missed the cut here in 2011 after a T21 in 2010, a T70 in 2009, a T58 in 2008 and a T36 in 2007.
There are some big names at the top of the odds list and one of those is Hunter Mahan (+1,500). After a T47 at the Farmers, his first event of the season, he followed that up with a T4 last week in Phoenix. His last three finishes at the AT&T were a T16, T15 and a solo second so he definitely likes it around here now after a slow start to his career in this event. Expect a big year as he aims to get back to the Ryder Cup.
Jimmy Walker (+2,500) took last week off after missing the cut at the Farmers so he should be refreshed and ready to continue his breakout season. He has won twice, once in the fall at the Frys.com and once in 2014 at the Sony. He missed the cut twice in his first three starts here but he has finished in the top ten in each of the last three years including a T3 in 2013.
Chris Kirk (+3,000) has been as solid as they come to open the season as he is ranked third in the FedEx Cup Standings. He won the McGladrey Classic back in November and then posted a solo second at the Sony. He is coming off a 76th place finish last week after an opening round 65 but finished solo second here last year. He is fourth on tour in birdies or better on par fives and that is a big asset to have here.
Graeme McDowell (+3,000) will be making his first official start since November when he finished third in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. While a layoff like that can be tough on some, I don't think it will be much of a factor here. He won the U.S. Open here in 2010 and this year, he will be playing along side his father and he says he is "buzzed" to get the season under way here.
For this week's long shot, we go with Aaron Baddeley (+8,000). He clearly is not off to a great start this year as his T48 last week was his best finish in three 2014 starts. But slow starts have been the norm for him in the past, until he gets here. He finished T6 in 2011, solo fourth in 2012 and T12 last year and those were all after average finishes at the WM. He could be in line for his first win since 2011 at the Northern Trust.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - All for 1 Unit
Hunter Mahan (+1,500)
Jimmy Walker (+2,500)
Chris Kirk (+3,000)
Graeme McDowell (+3,000)
Aaron Baddeley (+8,000)
2014 Record to date after 4 events: -20 Units
Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units
Humana Challenge -5 Units
Farmers Insurance Open -5 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units