Following a week where it seemed each of our picks struggled in one out of the 4 rounds causing most of them to finish out of contention we head to Pebble Beach, California. The PGA pros will be accompanied by amateurs and celebrities to put on a show for the fans at 3 separate venues. The amateurs and celebrities will be playing while the Pros will be teeing it up at Spyglass Hill Golf Club, Monterey Peninsula Country Club ( The Shores) and Pebble Beach Golf Links.
Spyglass Hill Golf Club
Spyglass Hill Golf Club will have the player’s full attention this week. Every year this course is ranked as one of the toughest on tour, especially if the wind picks up. The 6858 yard Par 72 course was home to the US Open last year and showed its ability to make players look foolish. Dustin Johnson had a 3 shot lead going into Sunday where he unfortunately shot 82. He should still have plenty of confidence this week though as he has won the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am the past two years.
The course record at Spyglass Hill is shared by Phil Mickelson and Luke Donald who both fired 62’s on this challenging track. To go low at Spyglass one will have to manage their way through holes 5, 8 and 16. These four holes will give the players fits all week.
Hole 5 is a 197 yard Par 3 that the players will need their best iron shot on to ensure they don’t end up with bogeys or worse. Nicknamed ‘Bird Rock’ the Par 3 is surrounded by 3 pot bunkers, one of which is the deepest and most challenging on the course.
Hole 8 is the number one handicap hole on the course and is a beast of a 399 yard Par 4. You might be thinking to yourself, 399 yards is not long at all for a Par 4, but this one is. Uphill all the way to the green, the players are faced with two difficult shots only to get to a green with a large crown near the centre. A four here is an excellent score.
Finally Hole 16 is a 476 Yard Par 4 that the players will want to get through and head as quick as they can away from it. This tree lined dog leg right nicknamed ‘Black Dog’ will challenge the players off the tee. A large tree protects the right side of the fairway forcing the players to shape a shot. A straight shot off the tee has potential of running through the fairway setting up a long and difficult approach. In 2010 there were only 12 birdies all week on this hole.
Monterey Peninsula Country Club (The Shores)
The 6838 Yard Par 70 Monterey Peninsula CC Course replaced Poppy Hills in the rotation of Pebble Beach courses last year. This challenging ocean front golf course has a gorgeous design thanks to Mike Strantz. With very little foot traffic on the course (its private) and the PGA players coming to play we can expect pristine conditions this week.
The course is filled with plenty of undulation, rocks, trees, grass and the ocean. When combining all three of these factors the players will have to take into account not only the land and the grass they are hitting off of, but the wind. Located right on the ocean the wind can cause havoc on the pros this week if conditions deteriorate even slightly.
The Par 3 11th is the courses signature hole and demands an excellent tee shot. It is 176 yard elevated tee block (on the natural rock) hitting towards a difficult green. This is a hole that really shows its muscle when the wind picks up. The players will have to rely on the help of their caddies and natural feel to hit this green and come away with a birdie opportunity.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
A classic golf course and one the players love coming to, Pebble Beach offers everything. Coastal lined fairways, massive undulating greens, ocean views and perfectly placed bunkers will be challenging the players this week at Pebble.
Pebble has held the honour as the Number 1 Public Golf course in The United States for the past two years (has an excellent chance of making it a three peat as well). Playing as a 6816 yard Par 72 course Pebble offers the players plenty of risk reward shots. Shot shaping and accurate club selection is key to players success while playing this California master piece.
Hole Number 18 is the one most of us think of when we hear Pebble Beach. A 543 Yard Par 5 that lines the Pacific Ocean, Hole 18 can win and lose tournaments. To hit this green in two you will have to bomb a drive and hit a very accurate iron shot. The green slops toward the ocean and has many subtle breaks. Hopefully we witness some drama unfold this week on the famous 18th.
Dustin Johnson will be looking to 3 peat, Phil Mickelson will be looking for his 4th victory at Pebble Beach and Mark Wilson will be looking for his 3rd victory of the year. As the west coast swing continues the players will look to build momentum in sunny California.
Mark Wilson picked up his second win of the year last week and looks to continue his hot play (He was also very happy about that Packers win). Another player who played well last week was Vijay Singh. Vijay picked up at win here at Pebble Beach in 2004 and hopes to get his golf game back on track this week.
The field will also include young guns such as J.B. Holmes, Chris Kirk, Nick Watney and Hunter Mahan. All these young guns will be vying to continue their solid starts to 2011. Their ability to hit the ball long and manage a solid short game will be needed at Pebble Beach this week.
Steves Six Pack Picks
This week we will be taking some players who are favoured but also a few long shots. With Pebble beach the players iron accuracy, bunker play and course management will be crucial. I will look to both experience at Pebble Beach as well as momentum from previous tournaments.
1. Dustin Johnson 7/1
We take Dustin for a 3rd straight week and this is more of a bet in case he wins. Because he is only 7/1 we will be making minimal units if he wins but you can’t overlook his two previous victories here, a great 54 holes in last year’s US Open and a general love for the course. He hits the ball a mile, has short irons into the greens, which results in a solid 76% of Greens hit in Regulation.
2. Nick Watney 14/1
Nick has two top 10’s in two starts this year. He has the ability to string together long birdie streaks by utilizing a solid putting stroke (ranked 32nd on Tour this year) and his excellent ability to scramble. Watney struggled at this course during the US Open last year but we are going to ride his momentum into this week.
3. Tim Clark 16/1
Tim Clark has all the intangibles needed to win this week’s tournament. He is 1st on Tour this year hitting a ridiculous 83% of Greens in Regulation. He is 3rd on Tour converting 80% of his sand saves. He is also 5th on tour at Greens in Regulation from (bunkers and rough). The best stat though, 5 top 12’s in his last 7 appearances at Pebble Beach.
4. Steve Marino 75/1
Steve Marino had a very good 2010 here at the Pebble Beach Pro Am finishing only 3 shots off the lead in a solo 4th. He is one of the best players on tour without a victory and it will come sooner rather than later. Steve plays Par 3’s very well (3rd on Tour at a 2.85avg) and I feel this will help him into contention at Pebble this week. Steve will hopefully have the putter working as that has been his kryptonite.
5. Gary Woodland 110/1
Gary hits the ball a mile. He also has two top 5’s in his previous 3 starts. He can make birdies with the best of them as he is 17th on Tour this year averaging 4.87 birdies a round. He is an aggressive player yet still manages to hit almost 75% of his Greens in Regulation. If he can get used to Spyglass quickly, I think he is a great long shot.
6. Alex Cejka 150/1
I could not believe Alex is listed at 150/1! He finished tied for 10th last year at the AT&T Pebble beach Pro Am and that was with a final round 75. Then he went out and had a tie for 8th at the US Open on this course (tied with Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and countryman Martin Kaymer). He has struggled in his last two events missing both cuts, but I look for him to work off some good memories at Pebble and contend this week.
Dustin Johnson -Tied for 55th
Nick Watney – Tied for 6th
Steve Marino – Tied for 4th
Gary Woodland -MC
Alex Cjeka -Tied for 21st
Good luck to all of our picks and once again feel free to leave your comments and input below.
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