No male golfer from Japan has won one of golf's four Grand Slam tournaments, but I'm thinking about going to one of Doc's promoted sportsbooks right now and dropping down some money on Hideki Matsuyama to win a major in 2017 as that guy is in the midst of a tremendous stretch of golf.
Matsuyama repeated at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday at TPC Scottsdale, winning on the fourth hole of a playoff for the second year in a row - this time over American Webb Simpson. The 24-year-old took the tournament with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-4 17th, the same place he beat Rickie Fowler in 2016. Matsuyama shot a final-round 5-under 66 to finish 72 holes at 17-under 267. Simpson birdied three of the last four for a 64, the best round of the day. He was just short on a birdie putt on the third playoff hole that would have won it.
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Dating to October, Matsuyama now has three worldwide wins, including the WGC in China and two runners-up. He has five victories in his past nine worldwide starts. He improved to 3-0 in playoffs in his career and won a fourth PGA Tour event, already a record from his country - which is surprising. Jumbo Ozaki had 94 Japan Golf Tour wins and three Top 10s in majors but never won on the PGA Tour.
Matsuyama was the first player to win consecutive years in a playoff in the same event since Ernie Els at 2003-04 Sony Open in Hawaii. At 24, Matsuyama is the third-youngest international four-time PGA Tour winner in last 30 years. He takes over the FedEx Cup lead and is up to No. 5 in the world. Seven of the last eight winners at TPC Scottsdale have come from behind in the final round, a trend that continued Sunday as Byeong Hun An coughed up his 54-hole lead halfway through his final round. He finished 14-under and sixth.
I had my first winning choice of 2017 as I took the Bovada prop of Jordan Spieth and Matsuyama at +400 vs. the field (-650). Also hit on Matsuyama for a Top 10 at -120, head-to-head over Bubba Watson, and Spieth at -170 for a Top 10 (T9). I was glad to see Simpson play well as his career took a nosedive when the PGA Tour banned anchored putting.
Frankly, the biggest news in golf last week was Tiger Woods withdrawing from the European Tour event in Dubai with back spasms, a potential major issue considering all his surgeries, but he wasn't planning on playing this week so I'll deal with him when he's set to return.
The Tour closes out the West Coast Swing with a stop at picturesque Pebble Beach, one of the rare historic courses an average Joe can play in the USA if you have deep pockets to pony up for greens fees, etc., at the super-expensive public course. The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has 54-hole cut as players take a round a Pebble, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula's Shore Course and then comes the cut. The final round is just Pebble. None of the three courses reach 7,000 yards, but the winds serve to shorten the courses - much like a British Open in Scotland.
The defending champion is American Vaughn Taylor, who was a Monday alternate. He shot a final-round 65 to finish at 17-under 270 for a one-shot win over Phil Mickelson. Lefty had a two-shot lead to start the final round by lost that quickly and shot 72. He missed a short birdie putt on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. Taylor became just the 10th man to capture both individual and pro-am titles in the same year. There will be a lot of celebs playing in the pro-am. Bill Murray always does.
Golf Odds: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Favorites
Dustin Johnson is the +800 favorite at Bovada. DJ comes off a surprising missed cut two weeks ago at Torrey Pines - he hadn't been worse than sixth in three previous worldwide events. He won this tournament back-to-back in 2009-10 and has three Top 5s here since, last a fourth in 2015. Johnson was 41st last year.
Spieth is +900. He has four straight Top-10 finishes worldwide. Spieth was 21st at Pebble last year but had Top 10s the previous two. World No. 1 Jason Day is +1200 along with Justin Rose. Rose has started 2017 with two Top 6s on the PGA Tour. He made his debut here last year and was sixth. Day also missed the cut two weeks ago at Torrey Pines. He has three Top 10s at Pebble in seven appearances.
Mickelson (+1600) and Brandt Snedeker (+1800) round out the favorites. Lefty is a four-time winner here and only Mark O'Meara has won the tournament five times. Snedeker won this event in 2015 & '13.
Golf Odds: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Picks
For a Top-10 finish, go with Johnson (-125), even though he's a bit all-or-nothing, Snedeker (+175), Mickelson (+175) and Jimmy Walker (+325). He won here in 2014 and has four Top 10s overall in the past six editions. Go with the favored Rose at +175 as top European.
Head-to-head, I like Shane Lowry (-125) over Martin Laird (-105), Simpson (-135) over Pat Perez (+105), Patrick Reed (-125) over Matt Kuchar (-105), Snedeker (-120) over Jon Rahm (-110), Rose (even) over Day (-130), and Johnson (-125) over Spieth (-105).
As of this writing, Bovada doesn't offer any props of a few top players vs. the field. If I can find one that includes DJ and Snedeker, I would take it. I'll go with Snedeker to continue his odd-year success here. He also played well last week until a final-round 73.
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