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Weekly Preview: AT&T Pebble Beach Preview

Greg Vara

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Momentum in any sport can be the difference between winning and losing. Most times, though, momentum is encapsulated within a single day. In baseball the old adage goes, "momentum is only as good as tomorrow's starting pitcher." In golf, momentum rarely survives the turn, let alone nightfall. So why is there this universally regarded theory that a golfer can somehow carry momentum from one week to the next? Don't get me wrong, I'm one of the believers, but I must admit I've never really thought about it too much. On the surface, golfers seem to get hot for weeks at a time, but maybe it just seems that way. Maybe it's what we want to see so that this game makes more sense. If positive momentum is truly that hard to carry over from week to week, what about negative momentum? I would argue that negative momentum carries over more often than its opposite only because golf lends itself to bad habits more than any other sport. A driver is hot - until the next wayward drive. A putter is on fire - until you miss a 3-footer. But if negative momentum is so hard to break, then what do we make of the two most recent winners on the PGA TOUR? Tiger Woods missed the cut the week before his victory at the Farmers, and last week's winner, Phil Mickelson, was less than inspiring the week prior, yet neither showed any ill effects of their previous performance in their recent victories. I guess this lends credence to putting more value on how a player has fared at a given location vs. how they are playing in the weeks leading up to an event. That, or Tiger and Phil are just freaks of nature and the rules simply don't apply to them.

This week:
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

Last Year:
Phil Mickelson shot a final-round 64 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Charlie Wi.

Players to Consider:

1. Phil Mickelson

Perfect storm this week with Mickelson. He's coming off a great performance last week, and his track record here is outstanding. Mickelson has a history of flipping negative momentum, but how will he respond to positive momentum? I think he'll do just fine.

2. Dustin Johnson

If Mickelson is Pick 1 this week, D.J. is 1a. Johnson is already a two-time winner of this event and is playing well. At least he was a few weeks ago when he won the Hyundai.

3. Steve Marino

Marino started the season slowly, but it looks like he got back on track at the Farmers two weeks ago when he posted a top-15 finish. That's not why he's here, though. His history, while limited, is solid. Marino has posted top-5s in his two most recent starts here.

4. Aaron Baddeley

Baddeley's has mixed results this season, but this looks like a spot where he can post another strong finish like he did at the Farmers two weeks back. Baddeley has finished in the top 6 the last two years here, and another top-10 looks likely this year.

5. Jimmy Walker

Walker has yet to miss a cut this season in four starts, and three of those resulted in finishes in the top 26. Walker has a good track record here as well with consecutive top-10s heading into this year's event.

Players to Avoid:

1. Nick Watney

A dangerous selection to be sure, but Watney's track record at the AT&T leaves a lot to be desired. Watney has only missed the cut here once in nine starts, but more often than not he's finished outside the top 20.

2. John Daly

Just in case you are thinking about getting creative this week with Daly, I'm here to stop you. There are certain spots each season where Daly can succeed, but this isn't one. He's made the cut here just once in nine starts.

3. Geoff Ogilvy

Is Ogilvy ever going to get his game straightened out? If his early results this season are any indication, his expected return might take yet some more time. Ogilvy has missed the cut in two of his three starts this season.

4. Mike Weir

Weir has a solid track record here and is starting to show signs that his game is coming back, but it's simply too soon to use him. Perhaps a decent performance this week will really get him going on the right track.

5. Ricky Barnes

Barnes finished in the top 3 here last year, but that result came out of nowhere as his previous record at the AT&T was less than stellar. His game in not in the best shape now, either, as he's coming off a missed cut last week.

YAHOO! FANTASY GOLF

Group A

1. Phil Mickelson
2. Brandt Snedeker

Would have been nice to have this combination last week. And with that said, I am a little weary of taking two players who finished so high last week, but the only other option was Harrington, and I couldn't take him over these top-tier players.

Group B

1. Jimmy Walker
2. Aaron Baddeley
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Steve Marino

Four of my top-5 are in Group B this week, which could make the starting lineup selection difficult, but it's a good problem to have. D.J. is at the top of this group heading into the week, but the other three players have solid track records here, so any one of them could take control of this group as the week goes on.

Group C

1. Robert Garrigus
2. Jason Day

With so much talent in Groups A and B this week, there's not much left over for Group C. To be honest, I struggled to find even one pick that I really liked, but I think this pair could be effective this week. Garrigus is off to a good start this season, and Day posted a top-10 two weeks back, so maybe his game is finally coming around.

Starters Round One

1. Phil Mickelson
2. Jimmy Walker
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Robert Garrigus

Three courses in play this week - Pebble, Spyglass and Monterey Peninsula. There is a difference in scoring average as well, so you'll need to pay attention to that this week. Of the three, Spyglass plays the most difficult while MP is the easiest to maneuver. More on that later. As for the first-round starts, I'll have to pick the players I would start regardless of the course they play. Mickelson gets the nod in Group A this week. D.J. and Jimmy Walker in Group B. I've got a good feeling about Walker this week. Group C will be in the hands of Garrigus to start.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Back to the course rotation. It's not as clear cut as it was at Torrey Pines, if nothing else because there are three courses this week, so I'll set up the scenarios. If you have two equal players and one is at Spyglass and the other at MP, then obviously start the player at MP. However, the difference between those two courses and Pebble is probably not enough to warrant a switch on its own. With that in mind, I'll have to wait on my post-first-round strategy until I see the tee times on Wednesday. I'll post daily updates on Twitter this week.

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