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Pebble Beach Preview: Dustin the Competition

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.

"Slow and steady wins the race." There aren't many sports in which being slow is actually a good thing, but golf is certainly one. I'm not talking Ben crane slow, I'm talking about the mental approach needed to win on the PGA TOUR. While Tommy "two gloves" Gainey was tearing up the TPC at Scottsdale over the first three rounds last week, Mark Wilson lay in the weeds for his opportunity to strike. And when it came time, he was ready. While Gainey began to crumble during the final round, Wilson remained calm and steady, and even a late charge by Jason Dufner could not throw Wilson off his game. Slow and steady, just keep playing your game and don't freak out, it will all work out in the end. Wilson's approach is paying off big time this season as he's already become the first two-time winner on the PGA TOUR in 2011, and who would have thought it? Wilson's not exactly must-see TV like some of his counterparts on the PGA TOUR, but with two wins under his belt already, I doubt he really cares.

What the Waste Management Phoenix Open means:

Mark Wilson: Although Wilson previously won on the PGA TOUR, he never pulled off two wins in such a short period. He's now at a new level, a level that will open doors to events from which he is normally excluded. He'll need to step up his game even further, though, if he's to make some noise during the big events this season.

Tommy Gainey: There likely wasn't a single person rooting against Gainey last week, yet the good vibes carried him only so far. He crashed in the final round, but he stills comes away with a nice chunk of change, which will go a long way toward retaining his card for next season.

Phil Mickelson: Mick never quite got his game into fourth gear last week. Every time he looked like he was about to take off, an errant tee shot or an inaccurate approach shot would squash the momentum. It's not all bad, though, he's close. Just a little more consistency off the tee and he'll be back in the winner's circle.

This week:
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am

Last Year:
Dustin Johnson shot a final-round 74 on his way to a one-stroke victory over David Duval and J.B. Holmes.

Players to Consider:

1. Dustin Johnson

The two-time defending champ has never finished outside the top-10 here. Johnson's game is a little off, but a week at Pebble is just what he needs.

2. Phil Mickelson

Mickelson is close and has won here three times. His track record here is all over the place, but considering his current form, expect one of his better showings this week.

3. Jim Furyk

Furyk's high-side at this event isn't as strong as some, but he's pretty reliable on this track. He's carded four top-10s in the last 13 years and hasn't missed the cut here since 1999.

4. D.J. Trahan

In a field with a lot of big names, Trahan is a solid sleeper this week. He's earned consecutive top-10s here the last two years, including a sixth-place finish in 2009.

5. J.B. Holmes

Holmes showed a pretty good game last week, and he's a very streaky player, so he's likely to bring his best this week. Holmes finished runner-up to Johnson last year at this event.

Players to Avoid:

1. Jamie Lovemark

I'll be the first to congratulate Lovemark when he finally finishes well - and trust me, it's only a matter of time - but his form is nowhere near what we are used to seeing from him.

2. John Daly

Daly put two good rounds together a couple weeks ago at the Farmers, but this track has never been kind to him. He's teed it up here eight times and made the cut only once.

3. J.J. Henry

Eight tries here for Henry and nothing better than a T41 in 2004. Henry has played the weekend only three times in those eight tries.

4. J.P. Hayes

Hayes caught lightning in a bottle last year when he finished in the top-5 here, but the odds of a similar run this year are slim to none.

5. Hunter Mahan

A dangerous selection here considering he showed some good form last week, but Mahan has really struggled on this track the last three years.

Yahoo! Fantasy Golf:

This week: AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am

Group A

1. Phil Mickelson
2. Dustin Johnson

A ton of talent in Group A this week, but this appears to be the proper combination. Johnson owns this track and Mickelson is playing well enough that a win is just around the corner.

Group B

1. Pat Perez
2. Sean O'Hair
3. Vijay Singh
4. Matt Jones

Well, this is quite the rag-tag bunch of golfers from Group B this week. Some weeks it comes really easy, and some weeks it seems as though you hate every pick. This is one of those weeks. Singh has a good track record here and played well last week, so I should be more enthused about the pick, but the other three leave a lot to be desired. O'Hair has the ability to win any week, so I've got that going for me. Perez almost won here in 2002, and Jones finished in the top-10 last year. OK, maybe it's not so bad.

Group C

1. Brandt Snedeker
2. J.B. Holmes

Unlike Group B, my initial reaction to the picks in Group C was extremely positive. I made the mistake of leaving Holmes off my roster last week, and I can only hope I'm not a week too late. Snedeker started to come around last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and finished T21 here last year.

Starters Round One

1. Dustin Johnson
2. Vijay Singh
3. Sean O'Hair
4. J.B. Holmes

It's sounds strange, but Johnson over Mickelson in round one was an easy decision. Johnson is the two-time defending champ and his form coming in is solid. Singh gets the nod in Group B off his solid performance last week in Scottsdale. The other starting spot in Group B goes to O'Hair, for no other reason than he's the best player of the group, and I'm not really high on the other two golfers. Holmes has a slight edge on Snedeker entering this week because of his track record at Pebble, but that decision was not easy.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Johnson will start the week as the top dog in Group A, but after round one it's all about form. Mickelson certainly has the ability to take over a starting spot, but he's going to have to play extremely well early to knock Johnson out of the line-up. Group B is a complete toss-up. I am assuming that Singh will be the top player from this bunch by week's end, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt each day. O'Hair is starting round one, but there will be no hesitation to pull him if he performs poorly or if Jones or Perez force my hand. I'll keep a close eye on Perez as he's had the magic here before, and if there are signs of that reappearing, I'll get him into a starting spot ASAP. Group C is also a toss-up after round one. Holmes has the better track record, but Snedeker showed from great form toward the end of the week in Scottsdale.

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