This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Betting Strategy
This year's edition of this event will look a little different than it usually does. COVID-19 protocols have eliminated the pro-am portion of the competition, and Monterey CC has been eliminated from the course rotation with fewer competitors in play. As such, golfers will split their first two rounds between Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, and those that make the cut will play Pebble Beach over the weekend.
Both changes will have an effect on the outcome, as certain golfers play better on one course than the others, and none of them will have to handle the extra duties that come when playing with the amateurs.
The field was not too stout to begin with, and it took a massive hit when Dustin Johnson withdrew. That opens the door for someone with longer odds to take home the title, and look no further than last year, when Nick Taylor (125-1 odds) cruised to a four-stroke victory over Kevin Streelman for his second career PGA Tour title.
Plotting the Right Course
The following five players averaged the most birdies per round at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill since 2016:
Over the last five years, no player has made more birdies per round on the two courses that will be used this week than Streelman. He won't miss Monterey much, as with a scoring average of 70.2, that was his worst course of the three. Someone who will miss Monterey is Mickelson, as his average of seven birdies per round since 2016 – with a scoring average of 65.8 – was the best in the field. Nonetheless, only Streelman made more birdies per round over that stretch at Pebble Beach than Mickelson did, and they should both benefit from playing the course an extra time around this year.
Iron Sharpens Iron
The following five players gained the most strokes on approach per round over their last 20 rounds:
With Pebble Beach playing as the shortest course on Tour, driving distance will be of less importance, and we'll want to focus on players that excel with their irons. Pebble Beach is also known for its small greens, making Strokes Gained: Around-the-Green an important secondary statistic to consider. Of the players in the field, NeSmith comes in with the best form, with his approach play giving him nearly a stroke per round on the field over his last 20 rounds. NeSmith held the co-lead after the first round in Phoenix before eventually finishing T7. Will Zalatoris would top this list, but the Tour rookie only has 17 rounds that have been tracked by ShotLink data thus far.
Jason Day (20-1)
With Dustin Johnson skipping this week's event, Cantlay has been priced down to a minuscule 7-1, and Paul Casey checks in at 14-1. However, he will have to deal with some jet lag after playing in Saudi Arabia last weekend. That leads me to turn to Day, who – much like last week's winner, Brooks Koepka – comes in searching for better golf, but has an attractive price tag in a below-average field. He's shown signs of his old form since last summer, and what better place for him to emerge than here, where he has finished top-5 in four straight appearances. His 64 in the second round last year was his lowest at Pebble Beach.
Cameron Tringale (45-1)
The veteran Tringale has three runner-up finishes on his resume but is still in search of his first win. He's quietly played some quality golf of late and just re-entered the top 100 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time since 2016. Tringale finished eighth in Strokes Gained: Approach last season, so he will fit right in on these tracks. His inaccuracy with the driver will be mitigated, with most tee balls being hit with woods or long irons.
Maverick McNealy (100-1)
McNealy is my favorite long shot this week, as he has a lot of familiarity with Pebble Beach, having grown up nearby and having played the course throughout his amateur career while golfing for Stanford. It showed last year, as he finished T5 while shooting 9-under-par over the final two rounds. As a position player off the tee with a strong short game, his game fits the mold for success here.
Peter Malnati (5-1)
Malnati has been a fixture near the top of leaderboards this season, with three top-10s in his last eight events. He also held the first-round lead at The Sony Open before faltering late to finish T14. Malnati isn't a long hitter but has been great with his irons this season. He entered the final round of last year's tournament in fifth place before settling for a T11 finish.
Patrick Rodgers (11-1)
It's easy to overlook Rodgers, who has missed three straight cuts and did not play the weekend last two times he participated in this tournament. However, he did finish T8 in 2018 and will benefit from Spyglass Hill being eliminated from the rotation, as he owns a scoring average of 74.7 on that track. Rodgers still has a high ceiling, and his above-average short game will come in handy this week. He is another guy with ties to the area, having also played collegiately at Stanford.
Peter Uihlein (20-1)
Uihlein has yet to tee it up in 2021 due to his low standing on the Priority Ranking, but he's in the field this week and will be well-rested and plenty motivated. His biggest weakness is being sporadic with his driver, which shouldn't be much of a factor this week. Uihlein has stepped up in some notable fields, notching top-5 results in tournaments like the Memorial, the WGC-HSBC event and the Wells Fargo Championship.
Brendan Steele (-110) over James Hahn: This will be Hahn's fifth straight week of competitive golf, and you have to wonder about his stamina, both physically and mentally, after blowing a three-shot lead in the final round at TPC Scottsdale. Steele often gets overlooked but doesn't have a weakness in his game, and he quietly ranked third in SG: Tee-to-Green last week.
Rickie Fowler (-125) over Alex Noren: At a quick glance, it appears Fowler hasn't been playing well, but his struggles have been on the greens, where he's lost over seven strokes over his last two tournaments and ranks 199th on the season in SG: Putting. He has a history of bouncing back from missed cuts with quality results, which bodes well for this wager. Noren's only result at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was a T32 last year, in which he had to rely on his short game to bail out his sub-par ball striking.
Charley Hoffman (-110) over Mark Hubbard: Hubbard only has two sub-par rounds in six times around Pebble Beach, and he has as many missed cuts as made ones this season. Although Hoffman withdrew a couple times in January due to a back injury, he took the course last week, which is a sign he is healthy. Hoffman has played much better golf since the restart last summer and is the better overall golfer among the two options in this pick'em.