Before getting to this week’s PGA Tour stop at the nation’s top public course, let’s review the recommendations from last week’s Waste Management Open outside of Phoenix.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of faith in Phil Mickelson despite his previous success at the tournament. Lefty hadn’t been playing all that well for a while, but he was utterly dominant at TPC Scottsdale. Mickelson opened with a 60 that could have been a 58 and went wire-to-wire for the third time in his pro career by finishing at a tournament-record 28-under and four shots ahead of the field. How good was Lefty? He played two holes out of 72 over par, made 29 birdies and an eagle and led the field in greens in regulation in his 41st career Tour win.
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Mickelson paid off at a sweet 22/1 at Bovada, but I didn’t bite on that or a Top-10 finish. I did hit on Brandt Snedeker with a Top 10 (he was runner-up again) but missed on Rickie Fowler and Charles Howell III. My overall value pick to win at 33/1 was Hunter Mahan. It’s not too often a player will shoot a worst round of 69 and finish T16, but that’s what Mahan did.
In a perfect segue, Mickelson’s victory was his first since winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am last February. That was one of the most memorable non-majors of the year as Mickelson began the final round six shots behind leader Charlie Wi, but Lefty shot a final round 8-under 64 with no bogeys to win by two. Mickelson and Tiger Woods were been paired in the final round, but Woods was 11 shots worse than Phil on Sunday. It was Mickelson’s fourth career win at Pebble Beach.
This golf season is setting up as potentially terrific with Mickelson and Woods both having dominating wins so far. Unfortunately, Tiger isn’t in the field this week. In my opinion, there’s no better public course in the nation than Pebble Beach, and it’s also the most picturesque in the USA. But some pros don’t like playing this event because the rounds take forever in dealing with the amateurs. We are starting to see a few top Europeans cross the pond – Lee Westwood, for example, is in the field. But the majority of Euros wait until the end of February for the Match Play.
The tournament is spread over three courses: the par-72 Pebble Beach Golf Links (the shortest course on the PGA Tour at 6,816 yards even though it’s a par 72), par-72 Spyglass Hill and par-70 Monterey Peninsula Country Club Shore Course (the second-shortest course on Tour at 6,838 yards). The cut is after 54 holes when every player in the field has played each course once. Then, the low 60 and ties will advance to the final round at Pebble Beach. By the way, the U.S. Open returns to Pebble in 2019 for the first time since 2010. That’s too long a gap.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Favorites
Mickelson is the 7/1 favorite at Bovada to repeat, but do you know how hard it is to win a tournament at a course like this twice in a row, much less win back-to-back weeks on Tour? Lefty has eight Top-10 finishes overall in 17 trips to this tournament. He hasn’t finished outside it since 2010.
Dustin Johnson is next at 8/1. Johnson, you may remember, led the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble through 54 holes but imploded in the final round. He did win this tournament in ’10 and the following year and was T5 a year ago. DJ won the season-opening Hyundai in Hawaii, but it seemed to take a lot out of him. He withdrew the next week with an illness and then was T51 last time out at the Farmers Insurance Open. He should be recharged now.
Snedeker is 12/1, and he’s done everything but win so far with two runner-up finishes and a third at the Hyundai to lead the early FedEx Cup points standings. Snedeker hasn’t played all that well in this event with zero Top 10s in five tries.
Westwood, making his PGA Tour 2013 debut, is 18/1. He was T9 a week ago in Dubai, but making that type of long trip almost never works out well the following week. For example, last week both Martin Kaymer and Jason Dufner traveled from Qatar (where both played well) to compete in Scottsdale and both missed the cut. This is only the second time Westwood has played the AT&T.
Nick Watney (20/1) rounds out the favorites. He struggled to a T43 last week but was T4 the week before at Torrey Pines. Watney has played this event twice with a best finish of T6 two years ago.
PGA Tour Picks: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Predictions
On the Top-10 props, I have to go “yes” on Mickelson (-130), Johnson (-110) and Robert Garrigus (+250) but “no” on Snedeker (-140), Westwood (-230) and Watney (-230).
Why Garrigus? He hasn’t finished worse than T11 the past two weeks and was a solid T20 at Pebble last year. He’s 25/1 to win. I am very intrigued by Aaron Baddeley at 40/1 to win. The Aussie was fourth last year and T6 in 2011. I love him at 11/4 to be the top Australian finisher.
For the winner, almost every expert likes Johnson this week, and it’s hard to argue with his track record. But on a longer shot, consider Padraig Harrington at 25/1 to win his first PGA Tour event since 2008. He usually plays well at Pebble and was T7 a year ago. Paddy had a solid T9 last week in his 2013 debut. Also take Harrington at 3/2 as the top finisher from Great Britain and Ireland.
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