This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM
Winner's Share: $1.368M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Pebble Beach, Calif.
Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill GC, Monterey Peninsula CC (Shore)
Yardage: 6,816 (Pebble)
2018 champion: Ted Potter Jr.
Pebble Beach turns 100 years old this year, and it still looks as pretty as ever. As a birthday present, the iconic golf course gets to play host to not one, but two PGA Tour events this season, as the U.S. Open will be back for a sixth time in June. The field then will be far better than this surprisingly weak collection of 156. We can appreciate what a grind the tournament can be, with three days of six-hour pro-am slogs, not to mention the potential for dicey weather. But you'd think that with a major just around the corner, more top golfers would want to get some face time. Just about all the pros have played Pebble at some point, but still.
The field is headed by annual contender Dustin Johnson, the lone representative of the OWGR top-10. Then come top-20s Tony Finau, Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood, Patrick Reed and Patrick Cantlay. The two biggest attractions, however, are former champions Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth. There is an interesting wild card this year – and we emphasize wild. – with Ho Sung Choi, the 45-year-old South Korean showman, bringing his swashbuckling swing to the PGA Tour. Tournament organizers who offered a sponsor's exemption can only hope the colorful and charismatic Choi sticks around through Sunday. He was ranked outside the top 400 in the world until a recent surge lifted him inside the top 200, thanks notably to a victory at the Casio World Open on the Japan Tour around Thanksgiving time.
The Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill (6,953/72) courses were similarly hard last year, far tougher than Monterey Peninsula (6,958/71). Pebble features two of the harder par-5s on the entire Tour, and last year they played over par, a real rarity. We're talking about the 573-yard 14th and the picturesque 543-yard 18th. Pebble features the smallest greens golfers will see all year. That calls for highly accurate iron play and, barring that, great scrambling. Further, word out of Pebble is that the course is taking shape for the U.S. Open early this year, unlike when it last hosted the major in 2010. A caddie there, Bob Yanoska – @caddiegiant on Twitter – has been tweeting that the fairways have already been narrowed and the rough has grown. There's been a lot of rain, and he Tweeted that it's "gonna play more difficult than past years, tho the greens will be soft due to the rain." With that assessment, we're adding driving accuracy into the key stats, something that normally doesn't matter at this short track. We'll delve deeper in the Champion's Profile below.
Golfers will play each of the three tracks over the first three days before the 54-hole cut sends the top 60 and ties to Pebble Beach on Sunday. That's good news for us gamers; even if we can't make it 6-for-6, the penalty isn't too severe.
Some of the celebrities on hand include Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Toby Keith, Jake Owen, Ray Romano and defending pro-am winner Larry Fitzgerald, who teamed with Kevin Streelman. (No word whether Romo knows what his score will be.)
Weather-wise, we're looking at some pretty chilly temperatures, with highs only in the mid-50s and morning lows in the mid-40s. Brrrr. It's been raining much of the week and, after an expected dry Thursday, rain is forecast to return on Friday and Sunday. The wind, traditionally one of the biggest variables, probably will be in the 15-25-mph range all week, according to Yanoska. With the weather so dicey, we recommend a late check on Wednesday before finalizing lineups.
Key Stats to Winning at Pebble Beach
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Driving accuracy/strokes gained: off the tee
2018 - Ted Potter Jr.
2017 - Jordan Spieth
2016 - Vaughn Taylor
2015 - Brandt Snedeker
2014 - Jimmy Walker
2013 - Brandt Snedeker
2012 - Phil Mickelson
2011 - D.A. Points
2010 - Dustin Johnson
2009 - Dustin Johnson
Even though Johnson is a two-time winner and a high finisher almost every year, driving distance has little bearing on who wins. Normally, driving accuracy doesn't either. But with the course being set up for the U.S. Open, as described above, it sounds as if missed fairways at Pebble Beach will be more penal this time around. Still, it's a second-shot golf course. Getting on the green is always harder when the greens are small, so superior wedge play is paramount – both from the fairway and around the greens (scrambling). And because the courses are all so short, many of those approach shots will be wedges. In the past five years, no winner has been top-20 in driving distance. Potter, in fact, was not in the top 65. Normally when greens are small, the best putters are neutralized. But that doesn't mean you don't have to putt well to win here. In fact, six of the past nine winners have been top-10 in putting average, with only one winner (Potter) worse than 16th. Lastly, and perhaps coincidence more than anything else, there have been only two non-U.S. winners of this tournament since 1965 (though Graeme McDowell did win the U.S. Open the last time it was played at Pebble in 2010). Potter's 17-under score a year ago falls at the low side of the past seven winners, all between 17- and 22-under. With such chilly and rainy conditions forecast, the winning score could be even closer to part this year.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Dustin Johnson - $11,400 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 5-1)
Virtually every single year, Johnson simply overpowers this course. It will be a bit harder this year, what with the U.S. Open coming. And this time around, Johnson has made his way back from halfway around the world in Saudi Arabia, where he won last week. But it's impossible to ignore two wins, two runners-up, a third, fourth and fifth over the past decade at Pebble. Plus, somehow, Johnson is $300 cheaper than last year, when he tied for second.
Jason Day - $10,900 (9-1)
Day's record here isn't quite as strong as Johnson's, but over the past six years they've been virtual equals. In fact, Day joined Johnson in the runner-up position last year. He has three other top-6s dating to 2013. Day's iron play is a bit of a concern with the tighter setup, but his putting is still elite.
Matt Kuchar - $10,000 (20-1)
Kuchar played well here earlier in his career, then for some reason stopped coming. He returned in 2017 and missed the cut, then tied for 62nd a year ago. With Kuchar's game, this is the type of course he should eat up, and he's been doing that with renewed vigor this season. Already a two-time winner this season, Kuchar tied for fourth last week in Phoenix. And with any sort of decent Sunday, he could've won again. Kuchar is ranked third in driving distance and ninth in both greens in regulation and scrambling.
Tier 2 Values
Jordan Spieth - $9,400 (20-1)
It's a really hard call when to jump back on the Spieth bandwagon. And he certainly hasn't given us any reason to. This surely is not a full-fledged jump. Let's just say we're backing him this week at a track where he has excelled, and usually against fields not quite this weak. Spieth won here two years ago, giving him three top-7s in six career visits. He was T20 last year and never worse than T22. Spieth is a whopping $1,000 cheaper than last year and is now the No. 8 guy on the DK board.
Chez Reavie - $9,000 (30-1)
Reavie has already carved out two top-5s in 2019, including last week's T4, which finished in rainy, chilly conditions, much like we could see this week. Last year here, Reavie shared runner-up honors with Johnson, Day and Phil Mickelson. Reavie is ranked 10th on Tour in strokes gained: approach and 26th in strokes gained: around the green.
Shane Lowry - $8,800 (40-1)
Lowry played here the past four years and made all four cuts with a best of T14 two years ago. This year, however, Lowry arrives as the leader in the Race to Dubai, having won in Abu Dhabi last month. He has increased his driving accuracy by five percent over last year – while also increasing distance. And his greens-in-regulation numbers are up, too. Chilly and rainy weather should be no obstacle to this Irishman.
Rafa Cabrera Bello - $8,300 (50-1)
When you Tweet a video of yourself putting in the pouring rain on a Monday at Pebble, your self-described "favorite course," you're ready to go this week. Cabrera Bello did just that. The Spaniard missed the cut his last time out in Dubai, but he had strung together five straight top-20s before that. Cabrera Bello tied for 26th at Pebble a year ago.
Brandt Snedeker - $8,200 (50-1)
Snedeker didn't have great weeks at Torrey Pines or TPC Scottsdale, but he did improve to a perfect 8-for-8 in cuts so far this season. Snedeker is a two-time Pebble winner who also was fourth two years ago and T20 last year. He's been wayward tee to green this season, but he's been saving himself with top-20 rankings in both strokes gained: around the green and strokes gained: putting.
Tier 3 Values
Scott Piercy - $7,800 (60-1)
Turning 40 has not slowed Piercy. It appears to have done the opposite, in fact. He rang up a fifth top-25 already this season by moving up the leaderboard on Sunday at Phoenix to share 20th place. He did it the conditions forecast for this week. Piercy is ranked 25th in driving accuracy, 18th in greens in regulation and 37th in scrambling. He tied for 20th at Pebble last February, in only his fifth visit through the years.
Lucas Glover - $7,700 (80-1)
If you're like us, it's hard to pull the trigger on a guy a week after getting burned by that guy. We got burned by Glover last week. He had ripped off five top-20s to start the season, so we shouldn't break up with him over one MC, right? Besides, Glover sets up nicely here – he is ranked 13th in greens in regulation, 18th in strokes gained: tee to green and eighth in scrambling. That should be more than enough to offset mediocre putting. Glover has played here only once in the past four years, but it was a tie for 11th.
Russell Henley - $7,600 (80-1)
It feels as if Henley has been around forever, or at least longer than someone who's still only 29. He certainly played like an old guy to start the season, missing 4-of-6 cuts. Last week was his best effort by far, tying for 15th in Scottsdale. And Henley was also T15 here a year ago in only his fourth ever visit. A lot of Henley's troubles this season can be found on the greens, where he's historically been far above average. He's ranked outside the top 150, but showed promised by ranking 40th in the field last week.
Kevin Streelman - $7,300 (100-1)
Streelman finished sixth here a year ago – and won the pro-am alongside Larry Fitzgerald – after notching top-20s the two previous years. And he's still the same price as a year ago. Streelman is very accurate tee-to-green (19th in driving accuracy, 62nd in greens in regulation) and, like many guys, his lack of distance won't kill him this week.
Chesson Hadley - $7,100 (100-1)
Hadley broke a string of three straight missed cuts in fine fashion, tying for 20th last week at the Phoenix Open. He has made the cut in three of four trips to Pebble, including a pair of top-10s. There's no reason he can't do it again. Hadley is ranked 11th in strokes gained: approach and 42nd in tee to green, plus he's a better-than-average 70th in strokes gained: putting.
Nate Lashley - $7,000 (150-1)
The 36-year-old Nebraskan is an interesting sort. He made his PGA Tour debut with one tournament in 2006 and didn't make it back for 12 years. That was last season, when Lashley missed more than half his cuts. This season, however, playing via a minor medical exemption, Lashley has three top-25s in four starts. He's made almost as much money as all last season. Lashley is ranked top-25 in both greens in regulation and strokes gained: putting. Last year here, he missed the cut by a stroke.
Roberto Castro - $6,900 (Field, 8-1)
Castro has been bouncing around the PGA and Web.com Tours for a few years, and now he's back with the big boys. Castro ran off five straight made cuts to open the season before missing last time out at Torrey Pines. In six visits to Pebble, Castro has a top-10 and a top-20, but also three missed cuts. He's ranked 25th in strokes gained: approach, 45th in scrambling and 47th in strokes gained: total, so he kind of seems underpriced here.
Davis Love III - $6,700 (200-1)
Love has been coming to the Monterey Peninsula forever, most recently two years ago, when he tied for 10th. He's already teed it up four times on the PGA Tour this season, and he hasn't missed a cut, topping out with a tie for seventh at the Sony Open last month. The next week, in a bid to qualify for the Open Championship, Love traveled to Singapore, where he tied for ninth (though didn't qualify). Love is ranked seventh – seventh! – on Tour in strokes gained: approach. The man turns 55 in two months.