This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
AT&T PEBBLE BEACH PRO-AM
Winner's Share: $1.404M
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)
2019 champion: Phil Mickelson
Considering all the variables that annually come with the Pebble Beach Tour stop, the field can only be so good. Even last year, when the course also played host to the U.S. Open in honor of Pebble turning 100, the field was only so-so. You'd have thought the big names would have come out in droves to get a free, tournament-like tuneup for a major. Yes, there are worse things than spending at least three days alongside some of the most beautiful vistas in all of golf that hug the Monterey Peninsula. But those three days come with pro-am rounds that double as six-hour slogs. Safe to say, for all that Pebble has to offer, this this tournament is an acquired taste. Plus next week comes Riviera, and now that the Genesis has been elevated to invitational status, it can only take more from Pebble.
So with two top-10 golfers in the world rankings, three more in the top-25 and six more in the top-50, plus some other bold-faced names, it's not all that bad for the ol' Clambake. Two-time champion Dustin Johnson and Patrick Cantlay represent the top-10, but defending and five-time champion Phil Mickelson and 2017 winner Jordan Spieth certainly are co-headliners (and how much longer can we keep saying that about Spieth?). Throw in Matt Kuchar, Jason Day, Viktor Hovland, Brandt Snedeker, Paul Casey, Kevin Kisner and some arriving Euros in Matthew Fitzpatrick and Rafa Cabrera Bello and, as we said, it's not all that bad. The converse is the opposite end of the field. After having a manageable 132 last week at Phoenix, we are back to a maxed-out 156. It's like "Korn Ferry fields forever" (ugh, did somebody just write that?) with more than a quarter of the field filled with KFT grads. And when you add in all the medical extensions, major and minor, plus some 126-150s and even lower-standing golfers – hello, David Duval! – virtually half the field is a dart throw.
In looking at the three courses in play Thursday through Saturday, all played uncharacteristically hard last year, though harsh weather certainly was a big factor. But Pebble was also taking shape for the U.S. Open four months later. It was the 12th hardest track on Tour in 2019-20. All three are short, with Spyglass Hill at 6,953/72 and Monterey Peninsula at 6,958/71. Pebble features two of the harder par-5s on the entire Tour. We're talking about the 573-yard 14th and the picturesque 543-yard 18th. Pebble features the smallest greens golfers will see all year, averaging 3,500 square feet, almost half the size of the Tour average. That calls for highly accurate iron play and, barring that, great scrambling. Those tiny Pebble greens are also well protected by bunkers, more than 100 total on the course. We'll delve deeper into this in the key stats and 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 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 Eli and Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Aaron Rodgers, Larry Fitzgerald and Wayne Gretzky, plus Bill Murray, Ray Romano, Toby Keith and Jake Owen.
Weather-wise, it's been a much drier California winter than in past years, and there's no rain forecast for the tournament, so at least those six-hour rounds won't have further delays built into them. But it should be chilly, with temperatures no higher than the 50s any day, which means 40s in the morning. The wind should be light on Thursday and Friday before freshening on the weekend.
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
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
• Putting average/strokes gained: putting
• Driving accuracy/strokes gained: off the tee
2019 - Phil Mickelson
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
Looking at last year's numbers might not be representative of what we'll see this year, because the changes for the U.S. Open were starting to be implemented. Regardless, Pebble is 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). In the past six 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 10 winners have been top-10 in putting average, with Mickelson being the worst of the bunch, ranking 20th last year. The poa annua green surfaces are not for everyone. Lastly, and perhaps it's 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 at Pebble in 2010). Mickelson's 19-under score a year ago falls in the middle of the past eight winners, all between 17- and 22-under.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Dustin Johnson - $11,600 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 13-2)
Johnson has had some clunkers at Pebble, including last year's tie for 45th, but most of the time he's rock-solid. He is a two-time winner, albeit not since 2010, but has five other top-5s since then. Johnson finished runner-up last week in Saudi Arabia after tying for seventh at the Tournament of Champions, illustrating that he is fully healed from offseason knee surgery.
Patrick Cantlay - $10,900 (12-1)
Cantlay has not missed a cut since The PLAYERS. Of course, at this price, we need a lot more than just a Sunday tee time. In 17 tournaments since Ponte Vedra, Cantlay has a win, five other top-5s and seven more top-25s. And many of those fields were a lot tougher than this one. That's a roundabout way of saying we expect him to be on the first page of the leaderboard on Sunday.
Paul Casey - $10,500 (20-1)
Casey is almost as consistent as Cantlay. In 19 events since the Masters, he's missed only one cut. He has a win, four other top-5s and eight more top-25s. Casey also was runner-up to Phil Mickelson last year and tied for eighth the year before.
Jason Day - $10,300 (20-1)
This week's event couldn't come at a better time for Day, who is dangerously close to falling out of the top 50 in the world. He's 46th and needs to stay inside the threshold to qualify for the WGC-Mexico in two weeks. In the past seven years at Pebble, Day finished top-6 five times. Really, really perfect timing for him.
Tier 2 Values
Branden Grace - $9,300 (25-1)
Grace won a tournament in South Africa last month. What may be more impressive to us is what followed. The field in the South African Open was on the weak side, but Grace then tied for 17th in Abu Dhabi and for ninth at Phoenix. He's played Pebble only twice, finishing tied for 20th two years ago and then T28 last year.
Cameron Champ - $8,800 (50-1)
Champ has played three times in 2020 and his worst showing was a tie for 21st. He's won a tournament in the past two fall seasons, but with two major differences: 1) This year's win was a regular event, so it got him into the Masters. 2) He kept playing well afterward this time. In eight events since winning the Safeway, Champ has five top-25s and only one missed cut. His massive length isn't a requirement this week, but he manages to make it an advantage in just about every event. Champ tied for 28th in his Pebble debut last year.
Russell Knox - $8,600 (40-1)
The Scotsman has finished top-15 at Pebble the past two years with a couple of other top-30s a few years earlier. The former top-20 golfer is now battling to get back inside the top-100. Knox has made his past 11 worldwide cuts, including top-25s the past two weeks at Torrey Pines and TPC Scottsdale. His big weakness is off the tee, something that will be mitigated this week. Knox is ranked 15th on Tour in strokes gained: approach and 21st in greens in regulation.
Rafa Cabrera Bello - $8,300 (60-1)
Cabrera Bello has called Pebble Beach his "favorite course." The Spaniard has fallen to 45th in the world, so he could use a good week to stay inside the top-50 and qualify for the WGC-Mexico. Cabrera Bellow tied for 22nd last year and 26th the year before.
Tier 3 Values
Kurt Kitayama - $8,000 (60-1)
Kitayama is an interesting play. He's a European Tour player in the field on a sponsor invite. But he's a Californian who attended UNLV, well versed in the nuances of West Coast golf courses. More importantly, he's No. 68 in the world coming off a tie for sixth in Dubai.
Tom Hoge - $7,900 (60-1)
Why not? Hoge's dream ride is going to end at some point, but he kept it going last week with a tie for 25th at TPC Scottsdale, his fourth straight top-25 to christen 2020 (after missing four straight cuts to conclude 2019). Hoge is ranked 14th on Tour in strokes gained: approach and 25th in SG tee to green. He's missed the Pebble cut three of the past five years, but this obviously is a different golfer.
Scott Piercy - $7,800 (60-1)
Here's the deal with Piercy: He'll probably make the cut, but the chances of a high finish are not great. Yes, he tied for 10th at Pebble a year ago and 20th the year before. Piercy has missed only three cuts since last year's tournament, though he's had only six top-25s in that span, one of them last week's outstanding T6 at Phoenix.
Sung Kang - $7,300 (100-1)
You may recall that Kang holds the course record at Monterey Peninsula after shooting a sizzling 60 in the first round in 2016 (he wound up tied for 17th that year). He also tied for 14th in last year's tournament. Kang has had a pretty good start to 2019-20, making 6-of-8 cuts with four finishes inside the top-30. His short game is not the best, but he is top-60 on Tour in strokes gained: tee to green.
Matthew NeSmith - $7,100 (150-1)
The Korn Ferry grad got off to a rocky beginning with three missed cuts to open his season. But he's reversed course to cash in 6-of-7 starts since then, with three top-20s at a tie for 30th in his most recent start at Torrey Pines. NeSmith is very short off the tee – that won't be an issue this week - but still ranks 34th on Tour in greens in regulation.
Brandon Wu - $6,900 (150-1)
The sponsor invite is well acquainted with Northern California. He was a Stanford all-American who last year tied for 35th at the U.S. Open at Pebble after going through qualifying. He's coming off a tie for 55th at Torrey Pines thanks to another sponsor invitation. We know there's not a lot of data to support this pick, but there's a reason he's priced higher with shorter odds than about half the field.
Doc Redman - $6,700 (200-1)
Redman has already teed it up 12 times this season, and he's made nine cuts, including the past two weeks at Torrey Pines and TPC Scottsdale. He's ranked top-30 on Tour in strokes gained: off the tee, approach and tee to green. After that, his numbers fall off the shelf. So a high finish might be in the cards, though chances are Redman will make it to Sunday.
Bo Hoag - $6,500 (250-1)
Hoag had a streak of eight straight made cuts culminate with a top-10 at the Sony. He then withdrew from the Amex with the flu and missed the cut at Torrey Pines, which we could chalk up to still being under the weather or to being a very short hitter on a monster track. Regardless, Hoag should find things more to his liking at his Pebble debut. The former Ohio State Buckeye is ranked 37th on Tour in greens in regulation.