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AT&T National Pro-Am Preview and Picks

   by Matt Fargo - 02/09/2011

The PGA Tour moves 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 replaces Poppy Hills for a second straight year as one of the three courses that had been part of this rotation. 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. It ranked as the fourth easiest of the 14 par 70 layouts last year. Last year 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 helped alleviate some of that last year.

The last time we saw Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell brought home the U.S. Open Championship with even par 284. The course is set up much differently for the National Pro-Am as double-digits under par is what it takes to win. 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.

Dustin Johnson (+700) is the two-time defending champion but it was 54-hole win two years ago as the final round was canceled twice because of torrential rain and dangerously high winds. He also finished T7 here in 2008, his only other start at Pebble and he was right in the thick of the U.S. Open last year before his Sunday debacle took him out of contention. A three=peat is not going to be easy.

Phil Mickelson (+800) is the second favorite this week as he followed a solo second at the Farmers with a T29 in Phoenix last week. He has had great success in this event as Mickelson won here in 1998, 2005 and 2007, in addition to finishing third in 2001 and 2004. Last year he finished T8 after a below average Sunday and also finished T4 in the U.S. Open and while the layout was different, the familiarity helps.

We will use Nick Watney (+1500) again this week after another strong effort. He shot a 63 on Sunday at the Farmers which was the lowest round on Sunday by three shots and it vaulted Watney into a T6 finish following three rounds in the 70’s. At the Waste Management, he finished T5 and although he has not had a lot of success in this even, his recent play will take precedence over that.

J.B. Holmes (+3000) opened last week with a 65 and closed the weekend with back-to-back 67’s to finish three shots back and a T5. He won that event in 2008 so the high finish was no surprise but the momentum will help this week. Also helping is the confidence of finishing just one shot back at Pebble last year, tied with David Duval for a T2. A high finish last week and a high finish here last year is a great combo.

Steve Marino (+5000) will not be on many radars but he has a good résumé coming into this event. He had last week off after missing the cut at the Farmers but he opened 2011 with a T2 at the Sony, finishing just two shots behind Mark Wilson. Last year at the AT&T, he finished solo fourth, three shots back, which was just his second start in the event. He has never won on the PGA Tour but this is certainly a good place to start.

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Matchup Bets (All from sportsbook.com) – All for 2 Units

Tournament Win Bets

Phil Mickelson (+800) 1 Unit

Nick Watney (+1500) 1 Unit

J.B. Holmes (+3000) 1 Unit

Steve Marino (+5000) 1 Unit

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