We are delighted to announce we have top golf tipster Jamie Worsley writing our golf previews moving forward on the PGA, DP World and LPGA Tour’s. Jamie is coming fresh off a 20/1 winner with Max Homa at the weekend and he has six more tips and a full preview for Pebble Beach. Let’s dig in…
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tips
- 1pt David Lipsky – each way (1/5 8 places) – 55/1
- 1pt Scott Stallings – each way (1/5 6 places) – 55/1
- 1pt Will Gordon – each way (1/5 7 places) – 55/1
- 1pt Brendon Todd – each way (1/5 6 places) – 70/1
- 1pt Lanto Griffin – each way (1/5 7 places) – 80/1
- 1pt Kevin Tway – each way (1/5 7 places) -150/1
Max Homa has become one of the most prolific winners on the PGA Tour over recent years and his performance during Saturday’s final round of the Farmers Insurance Open showed exactly why. Starting in 4th place, five shots behind overnight leader, Sam Ryder, Homa produced the joint-best round of the day – a six-under 66 – to take home the title with a little left to spare.
The ease and calmness of this performance, that saw Homa gain strokes right across the board, has become a common calling-card of the likeable Californian over recent years, as he’s racked up title after title (now a six-time PGA Tour winner).
There’s a sense amongst many that this nerveless winner ought to have a better major record than he currently possesses – wins at Riviera, Quail Hollow and Torrey Pines as good a CV you’d hope to have for a potential major contender – and that is surely the big aim for him for the rest of the year.
Onto this week and the PGA Tour hits the middle point of its West Coast swing, heading to the iconic Pebble Beach for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am; our third multi-course event in as many weeks.
History of the Event
Much like the aforementioned AmEx, this event is played over three courses and sees pros rub shoulders with amateurs from across the celebrity spectrum.
The tournament goes back to the 1930s but it was in 1947 that the host and title course for which it is now synonymous first took up hosting duties, and Pebble Beach has been a mainstay since.
With the other two courses made up of Spyglass Hill – an ever-present since 1967, barring in 1977 – and Monterrey Peninsula’s Shore Course since 2010, excluding 2021.
The field – both pros and their celebrity amateur partners alike – will rotate around the three courses over the first three rounds before a 54-hole cut is made; with the cut-makers, as well as the top 25 pro-am teams, going back for a final spin around Pebble Beach.
Situated right on the Pacific Coast, this event can play tricky if the wind blows but without it, scoring is usually low, as the pro-am element of the event means they don’t like to trick the courses up too much; rough will be shorter and greens slower than how they’d typically set Pebble Beach up for a US Open. The last four renewals have been won in -18 or lower, with an average winning score of 18.75 over the last eight years.
Brandt Snedeker holds the tournament record, shooting -22 in 2015 – his second win in the event. There he joined a long list of multiple winners, which includes Jack Nicklaus, Dustin Johnson and Davis Love III but they are all trumped by Phil Mickelson and Mark O’Meara, with five wins apiece.
Tom Hoge is our reigning champion after he got the better of Jordan Spieth last year to pick up his first PGA Tour title. Spieth too returns this week in what is a pretty weak field and for an event that is not shy on big-priced winners, this year’s renewal looks particularly wide open.
Pebble Beach: 6972 yards, par 72 (10 par 4s, 4 par 5s, 4 par 3s)
World famous seaside links which has hosted six US Opens, the most recent in 2019 won by Gary Woodland. Fairways are pretty generous, though many dogleg and are countered by the poa annua greens – the putting surface of choice at each of the three courses – which are some of the smallest greens they’ll play all year.
Bunkers are in abundance, elevation changes ask questions of your ball-striking and water is in-play on around half of the holes.
Despite the lessened difficulty for this event, it’s still a challenging course, particularly on and around the greens, where it ranks high in difficulty in both scrambling and putting. Having said that, if the wind doesn’t blow you can score well if in control of your golf ball.
Spyglass Hill: 7041 yards, par 72 (10 par 4s, 4 par 5s, 4 par 3s)
Spyglass Hill would be the most demanding course of the three if conditions aren’t challenging. Starting off exposed, it develops into a more tree-lined, parkland style course; with tight, doglegging fairways putting more pressure on the driver than the other two courses.
The elevated greens are around average size and ask questions of your short-game should you miss.
Monterrey Peninsula Shore Course: 6957 yards, par 71 (9 par 4s, 5 par 3s, 4 par 5s)
Similarly to Pebble, the Shore Course at Monterrey Peninsula can be tricky if the wind blows due to its exposed nature, though with wide fairways and large greens, it’s the least challenging course tee-to-green and if you’re lucky enough to arrive here in less blowy conditions, you have to make sure to take advantage.
I have to re-emphasise that though these courses all have their challenges, they will not be setup in a way that heightens that difficulty. Ultimately, the only thing that should stand in the way of someone scoring well across all courses is if wind arrives from across the Pacific.
Any strokes-gained data for this event come solely from the two rounds played at Pebble Beach, so doesn’t necessarily give us a true indication of what is needed across all three courses. That being said, a few things still stand out, chief amongst them is that precision iron-play key.
Tom Hoge shot -13 across his two rounds at Pebble Beach last year. His opening 63 was down to quality play across the board; however, during the final round – where he played well whilst scoring was a lot tougher – he excelled in approach, ranking 1st for GIR and 2nd in approach; the 5th best approach player across the two Pebble rounds combined.
Runner-up last year, Jordan Spieth, also shot -9 at Pebble Beach in his 3rd round and in doing so produced the best approach performance of the week, gaining over 5 strokes.
Whilst 4th place finisher, Troy Merritt ranked 4th overall in approach and Matthew Fitzpatrick, who shot one of the best rounds in round 4 to finish 6th, ranked 1st in approach. Of those at the top of the leaderboard, most produced at least one quality round in approach.
This is something repeated throughout previous renewals; Daniel Berger ranked 3rd in GIR and 6th in approach when winning in 2021, with three of the top four that year also making sure to hit plenty of those small Pebble Beach greens, ranking no worse than 7th for GIR.
Go back to 2019 and we find the 1st and 2nd best ranked iron players, Phil Mickelson and Scott Stallings, finishing 1st and 3rd in the tournament respectively.
If you’re not dialled in with your irons, particularly wedges from 100-125 yards (the most common approach range in the event) you better bring a hot putter. Tom Hoge putted excellently last year to compliment his quality iron play, ranking 3rd on the greens, whilst Beau Hossler’s 3rd place finish was very much reliant on the putter, where he ranked 6th.
Nick Taylor won in 2020 with a mediocre game T2G but enjoyed a good week on the greens, ranking 2nd; runner-up in 2018, Jason Day leading the field on the Pebble greens with the rest of his game looking a struggle.
There’s nothing to be taken from driving stats for me, the courses are short and many holes force some bigger hitters to club down whilst playing at ideal distances for the shorter hitters. Whatever the driver “type” you are, you can get it around in a good score.
Meanwhile the ever changing forecast has predicted potentially strong winds at some point this week, particularly during Sunday’s final round. Due to the difficulties faced around-the-greens, I’m inclined to weight the short-game in some way.
Key Stats: SG: Approach, Greens-in-Regulation, SG: Putting (poa), Proximity 100-125 yards
Secondary Stats: SG: Around-the-Greens
Correlating Events (Courses)
Travelers Championship (TPC River Highlands)
The Travelers Championship matches up to this event in most aspects. It asks similar questions with the driver, ranking closely in percentage of fairways found, the same with GIR and whilst it’s a little easier on the greens, scrambling percentages are also closely matched.
Kevin Streelman and Chez Reavie are both past champions of the Travelers and have finished runner-up here. Whilst other past Travelers champions, Russell Knox and Freddie Jacobsen, also have good records here. Scott Stallings strengthens the ties, with multiple top 10s at both events.
Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey Pines)
The Farmers Insurance Open is a much more challenging ball-striking test but has developed strong form-ties with Pebble Beach. A large part of that is down to the challenging poa greens and difficulty around them but it too ranks close to this week’s event in GIR.
Brandt Snedeker is a two-time winner of both events, with Scott Stallings – also a past champion of the Farmers – making another appearance.
Last week’s winner, Max Homa, has finished 10th, 14th and 9th on his last three visits to Pebble Beach. Another two-time winner at Torrey Pines, Jason Day, has an excellent record at Pebble Beach, with a 2nd and 3rd amongst other top 10s; Pat Perez and Jimmy Walker adding to this link, with multiple top 10s across both events.
RSM Classic (Sea Island Resort)
On the opposite coast of the states but the Sea Island Resort’s linksy multi-course setup should tie in nicely with Pebble Beach. It’s a similar ball-striking test, with fairways and greens easy to find, it challenges the short-game and wind can play a huge part.
Mackenzie Hughes is a past champion there and has 10th and 16th place finishes here, typically at home on these coastal setups. Last year’s winner, Tom Hoge, has multiple top 10s there, as does Kevin Chappell, one of them a 2nd place finish; Freddie Jacobsen and Brian Gay adding to the form-ties.
Wyndham Championship (Sedgefield Country Club)
Sedgefield Country Club is another short course where strong iron play and putting are typically key, ranking particularly close to Pebble Beach in terms of short-game difficulty.
Brandt Snedeker again ties the events together, as a two-time winner of both. Freddie Jacobsen has a 2nd there; whilst Jimmy Walker, Matt Jones and Brian Gay have all backed up good records here with top 6s in the Wyndham.
A small mention for Club de Golf Chapultepec, host of the Mexico Championship from 2017-2020. There is a lack of crossover form from that event and many in this field; however, with its tough poa annua greens, ATG difficulty and similar numbers in GIR – which has enabled the likes of Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to complete the double across both events – if you fancy someone who has form there, it should be seen as a positive.
The forecast has changed multiple times over the last couple of days. It initially had some rather severe winds on the Sunday but that seems to have dissipated for now. However, things can change quickly, particularly by the coast and it makes sense to expect there to be some wind.
Temperatures are once again set to be low and there are also a few spots of rain predicted over the week.
This week’s field is weak, with Matt Fitzpatrick the highest ranked player in the field at #10, but he may well be overshadowed by his pro-am partner – ex-footballer Gareth Bale – if Jon Rahm’s recent comments are anything to go by: saying of Bale, that he “Has no business being this good at golf.”
World #11 Viktor Hovland and #16 Jordan Spieth make up just a trio of players from inside the world’s top 20, whilst Seamus Power returns to PGA Tour action after playing in Abu Dhabi a couple of weeks ago, joined by European Ryder Cup captain Luke Donald.
Jordan Spieth and Matt Fitzpatrick head the market at 10/1, followed by Viktor Hovland at 11/1. The three clear class acts in the field but in an event such as this I’m not interested in the favourites.
In a market where Maverick McNealy – a talented player with a good record here but ultimately not yet a proven winner – and last year’s winner Tom Hoge are sub 20/1, it’s a week to go hunting further down the betting.
1pt David Lipsky each way – (1/5 8 places)
David Lipsky is the first player to catch the eye. The Californian should be right at home this week and produced an encouraging performance here last year, finishing 24th and leading the field on the greens.
His first year on the PGA Tour – which he earned after graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021 – was a successful one for the two-time DP World Tour winner.
He put up multiple top 10s, the best coming with a 6th in the Mexico Open and signed off 2022 in good form; finishing 10th at Mayakoba and 22nd in the Houston Open on his last two completed starts of the year.
A strong ball-striking game, where Lipsky ranked 30th in driving accuracy, 40th in approach and 44th in GIR last season, was the driving force behind that solid first year and was well on show again when he returned to action for his first start of the year, in the Sony Open a month ago.
He finished 4th there thanks largely to an excellent iron display, ranking 4th in the field in approach. Lipsky then missed the cut on his latest start in The American Express but once again hit the ball well; a poor week on the greens his downfall.
I fancy him to bounce back from that here, at a place where he was a promising 24th last year. A 10th at Chapultepec in 2019 offers further promise and if able to combine the quality of his ball-striking with what he did on these greens last year, Lipsky would have every chance of conquering this weak field.
1pt Scott Stallings each way – (1/5 6 places)
Scott Stallings’ form has tailed off a little following his fine run at the end of last season but with a strong record here, as well as a book of correlating form to match anyone, he has plenty in his favour to find his feet again at Pebble Beach.
That finish to last season saw Stallings hit the top 10 five times in his final ten starts, his best effort coming when 2nd in the BMW Championship (the second of the FedEx Cup playoff events). This culminating in a first visit to East Lake for the Tour Championship.
He looked good when 13th in the Sanderson Farms Championship on his first start of this season back in October last year, though has underwhelmed since; starting the new year finishing 25th of the 38 players in the Tournament of Champions and then narrowly missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open last week.
The biggest concern has been the decline of his approach game since his 2nd in the BMW, it was the driving force behind that excellent run at the end of last season and much of the last 5+ years of his career; something he’ll need to rediscover this week.
After initially missing his first two cuts in this event, he returned for the first time in six years in 2017, which brought about a massive upturn in his form at Pebble Beach. He finished 14th there and followed with 7th and 3rd place finishes the following two years; encouragingly showing good ability on these putting surfaces.
He’s missed two of his next three cuts at Pebble Beach but this is offset by some excellent correlating form. Stallings is a past winner at Torrey Pines and has a runner-up finish there in 2015; also possessing multiple top 10s in the Travelers Championship; whilst strong efforts can too be found at the Wyndham and RSM Classic.
For all his approach play has gone off the boil, the rest of his game looks in good condition and with the record he has here, as well at those venues mentioned above, Stallings can get up and running for 2023 this week.
1pt Will Gordon each way – (1/5 7 places)
Will Gordon comes here off the back of two missed cuts in succession but he’s continuing to hit the ball well and can get back to form at a course he finished 21st at on debut last year.
Gordon is still very much at the beginning of his career but this is already his second stint on the PGA Tour, as he spent much of 2020 and all of 2021 as a member.
He dropped down to the Korn Ferry Tour last year but stamped his swift return thanks to a strong finish to the season there, finishing inside the top five on five occasions and earning his first professional title in the Albertson Boise Open.
He’s been rock solid since the start of the new PGA Tour season, indeed those two latest missed cuts are his first of the season, making his first eight in a row and recording a best of 3rd at Mayakoba, before signing off 2022 with a 15th in the RSM Classic.
He started the year with a solid 28th in the Sony Open, following with those missed cuts in The AmEx and Farmers Insurance Open; however, on both occasions gained strokes off-the-tee and in approach.
The driver is the best club in the bag, where he’s straight and long, whilst he also ranks top 30 this season so far in GIR. The putter is on/off, though he does have some good numbers on poa surfaces, gaining strokes on his last two appearances at the Farmers Insurance Open and at the Fortinet Championship at the start of this season.
He was also solid enough with the putter in that 21st place finish here last year. Though that was not his debut at Pebble Beach, as in 2018 he finished 5th in the US Amateur Championship here (Viktor Hovland the winner) and was 4th after the stroke-play stage of the event.
A 3rd place finish in the Travelers Championship in 2020 increases my hopes in his chances, as does a strong record in the RSM Classic, at which he’s recorded finishes of 10th and 15th.
1pt Brendon Todd each way – (1/5 6 places)
Brendon Todd came out close to the top of a couple of models I ran for this week’s event and looks set for another strong effort at Pebble Beach.
He enjoyed a good start to the 2022/23 season at the end of last year, picking up two top 10s in his first five events: a 9th place finish in the Fortinet Championship and 7th in the CJ Cup.
He returned to action at the Sony Open with a solid 21st place finish, where his short-game carried him; though this was reversed in his missed cut in The American Express, as Todd missed the cut thanks to an unusually poor week with his short-game.
I say unusually because Todd has one of the best short-games around, ranking 3rd in putting, 14th in scrambling and 60th around-the-greens on the PGA Tour last season.
This remains a huge strength this season but it’s actually his irons that have offered the most encouragement. Both of those top 10s at the end of 2022 were engineered by quality approach play, ranking 2nd in the CJ Cup and 4th in the Fortinet Championship.
It was once again on show in his missed cut at The AmEx and sees Todd rank top 50 in approach this season, particularly impressive in that important 100-125 yard range, where he ranks 4th on tour.
This with that quality short-game should see him go well this week, at a place where he’s twice finished in the top 10 and was 16th on his most recent visit last year; a 4th in the RSM Classic and strong performances in the Wyndham Championship and Travelers Championship adding confidence.
1pt Lanto Griffin each way– (1/5 7 places)
Lanto Griffin returned to PGA Tour action last week following six months out following back surgery. I wouldn’t normally be keen to jump back in on someone coming off such a long absence – though he did play the Korn Ferry Tour a couple of weeks back – however his performance last week, coupled with his record here and ability to putt poa proved too tempting.
Griffin was understandably a little rusty when heading to the Bahamas on the Korn Ferry Tour, finishing 66th. He came on plenty from that last week at Torrey Pines, finishing 37th and was sitting inside the top 20 entering the final round.
He has a solid all-round game, though excels with the putter and irons, ranking top 40 in both twice over the course of the last three years on the PGA Tour. The irons were lacking a little last week but nothing too alarming, whilst he drove it well and putted well until the final round.
After missing the cut here in 2018, Griffin has gone on to finish 9th and 16th on his next two visits, putting well both times. This is something he does on the similarly tricky poa greens at the Farmers, where he’s recorded encouraging finishes of 7th and 12th in the past.
Despite being just his third start following such major surgery, Griffin has plenty in his favour around this setup to put up a good showing.
1pt Kevin Tway each way – (1/5 7 places)
After a 2022 to forget, Kevin Tway has looked bright in the early part of this year and if continuing in the same form here, can improve on his poor record in the event.
The less said about last year the better, he missed half of his cuts and failed to record a single top 20. Though Tway has already put that right this year.
Following consecutive 54th place finishes in the Sony Open and AmEx to kick off the year, he stepped up markedly last week at Torrey Pines, finishing 18th; doing so with a top 10 performance tee-to-green.
This strong tee-to-green performance wasn’t a bolt from the blue as he was very good at The AmEx, though struggled on the greens, whilst in the Sony he drove and putted well. Meaning every area of his game has shown positive signs in this early part of the year.
Tway has only played here four times, missing three cuts and finishing 48th on his only Sunday stay in 2017. However he has a strong record in the Travelers, with finishes of 5th and 6th to his name and has also got a solid book of form in the Wyndham Championship; a best of 11th in 2018.
Though his record at Pebble is poor, he does putt the greens well; his ability on poa also on show in his solo PGA Tour win in 2018’s Fortinet Championship, as well as various solid efforts in the Farmers outside of this year.
If able to bring the level of tee-to-green performance of those last two starts and combine with this level of poa putting, Tway could be a lively outsider this week.
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