You know how Hall of Famer John Elway ended his NFL career in style by going out on top after winning a second straight Super Bowl with the Denver Broncos? Or how Peyton Manning is likely going to follow the lead of his boss and do the same after winning Super Bowl 50 on Sunday?
I'm half-tempted to retire from golf predictions before even finishing this story because for the first time, I have hit on back-to-back winners on the PGA Tour. I had come close to consecutive wins but not quite. Two weeks ago, my guy was Brandt Snedeker at Torrey Pines. And then on Sunday, Hideki Matsuyama, my pick, won the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Should he have won? No. Rickie Fowler should have. But Fowler gagged away a two-shot lead late on Sunday by hitting into the water on No. 17, a drivable 358-yard par-4. Why even risk driving the green there with a two-shot cushion? On No. 18, Matsuyama sank a 15-foot birdie putt for a brief lead, but Fowler answered with about a 10-footer of his own. And then on the fourth playoff hole against Matsuyama, Fowler plunked one into the drink on No. 17 again. This time he hooked it left using a 3-wood instead of driver again.
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It was great theater, better than the bland Super Bowl frankly. It was Matsuyama's second Tour win along with the 2014 Memorial -- he also won that in a playoff. Matsuyama had tied for second last year in Scottsdale, a stroke behind winner Brooks Koepka. Matsuyama was +2000 at Bovada to win and I also got him for a Top 10 at +225 and at -125 head-to-head over Kevin Kisner. Also hit on Kevin Na (-110) over Jason Dufner (-120), and J.B. Holmes (-120) over Phil Mickelson (-110).
This week the PGA Tour heads to a rare famous course that even an average Joe can play if you have the $500 or whatever it costs these days. And that's the public Pebble Beach Golf Links, the main course used in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Some pros hate this tournament because rounds can take forever playing with those celebrity hackers. But the field this week is very good with 12 of the world's Top 25 playing. That includes No. 1 Jordan Spieth and No. 3 Jason Day. No. 2 Rory McIlroy will arrive in the USA next week. Mickelson also is playing again this week.
There's no cut after 36 holes this week but 54 as each player will play one round on Pebble Beach, one on Spyglass Hill and one on Monterey Peninsula's Shore course. Then the final round is solely on Pebble, which has hosted a handful of U.S. Opens and one PGA Championship. The Monterey course is considered the easiest of the three. None of the three even reach 7,000 yards, but all have small greens and the potential for plenty of wind (especially Pebble).
The defending champion is Snedeker. He shot a 5-under 67 on Sunday last year to win by three shots over Nick Watney. Snedeker had just one bogey all week and finished at 22-under 265, breaking by two shots the tournament record he set in winning in 2013 at Pebble Beach. Jim Furyk, the 54-hole leader, struggled mightily on Sunday. He remains out due to wrist surgery.
Golf Odds: Pebble Beach Pro-Am Favorites
Spieth, who took last week off after a couple of grueling travel events overseas, is the +500 favorite at Bovada. Spieth opened the PGA Tour calendar year at the Hyundai in Hawaii and lapped the field. He was seventh here last year and fourth in 2014.
Dustin Johnson and Day are +900. DJ has played this course nine times (officially) since 2008 and has been T8 or better seven times. He was leading the 2010 U.S. Open there but collapsed. But he won this event in 2009 & '10. Johnson was fourth last year and runner-up the year before. Day surprisingly missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago. He has never missed a cut in six tries at Pebble with a best finish of T4 last year.
Snedeker (+1200), Bubba Watson, Jimmy Walker and Mickelson (all +1600) round out the favorites. You know all about Snedeker. Watson was 14th last week and is playing here for the first time since 2007. Walker won it in 2014. He was 21st last year. Lefty has won here four times, last in 2012. The record is five by Mark O'Meara. Mickelson was a solid 11th last week. He didn't play here in 2015.
PGA Tour Picks: Pebble Beach Pro-Am Expert Betting Predictions
For a Top 10, I like Spieth (-275), Johnson (-130) and Walker (+135). For top American, I'm going Walker at +1200. Take Day at -110 as top "rest of the world" and Shane Lowry (+450) as top European. Head-to-head, I like Spieth (-140) over Day (+110), Lowry (-120) over Dufner (-110), J.B. Holmes (-125) over Koepka (-105), Patrick Reed (-115) over Na (-115), Mickelson (-125) over Justin Rose (-105), and Walker (-115) over Watson (-115).
An American has won this every year since 1994 but one, and I see no reason why that changes. Walker's my guy. Prior to his win two years ago, he had three straight previous Top-10 finishes. Walker also took last week off following a T4 at the Farmers Insurance Open.
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