AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am ⏤ Expert's Picks & Analysis

Fantasy Golf

Blog Pebble Beach Hero

The PGA TOUR returns to perhaps its most beautiful venue this week for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links. The course, built by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant during the golden age of golf course architecture in 1919, weaves its way in and out of the Del Monte Forest and out to the cliffs of the Monterey Peninsula overlooking the majestic Pacific Ocean. Contestants this week will play there twice while completing one round each at nearby Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula CC (Shore). All professional players will be paired with an amateur—a group of enthusiastic golfers that includes actors, sports stars and some of the world’s most successful businesspeople.

Phil Mickelson will defend his title from last year—having defeated Paul Casey by three shots to earn his fifth title in this event and his 44th career PGA TOUR title at the age of 48. He began the final round three shots behind Casey but played a solid front side to pull within just one shot as they came to the back nine. Birdies at the tenth, thirteenth and fourteenth holes for Phil combined with bogies at eleven and twelve for Casey left Mickelson three clear of the field coming to the home holes. Darkness descended upon Pebble Beach before the final round could be completed, but upon returning in the morning Phil closed out the last two holes easily and collected that record-tying fifth AT&T title.

Group A 

This is the most star-studded group of the six this week and features a number of past tournament champions in Mickelson, Snedeker and Johnson.

Compelling cases can be made for most of the players in this group. The small greens and tight fairways at Pebble Beach may lend themselves well to a steadier player like and the relatively benign hole locations (for the sake of the amateur players) tend to require a relatively low score across the three days. This would seem to fit the game of Patrick Cantlay—who ranked 4th in birdie average and 5th in strokes-gained tee-to-green during his 2019 campaign. Matt Kuchar is another player who fits this bill, but he hasn’t shown a ton of form early in this season and is a player we think you can fade this week.

Phil Mickelson has taken over the crown of “Mr. Pebble Beach” from Mark O’Meara (the only other 5-time tournament champion) and cannot be overlooked after his strong finish overseas last week. He fired rounds of 66-70-68-67 to finish in third at the European Tour’s Saudi International and came off the golf course as excited as he’s been about his game since this time last year.

That having been said—our pick this week is Dustin Johnson. There was a time years ago when DJ seemed unbeatable at this golf course—taking two AT&T titles (back-to-back in 2009 and 2010) and leading the U.S. Open here through three rounds back in 2010. In fourteen tries at this event those two wins are among nine top-ten finishes and he’s a safe bet to perform strongly here again. He finished second last week at the Saudi International and between his course experience and recent form we think he’s the right choice.

Group B 

We’re going to go with a “recent form” choice here and select Brandon Grace to emerge from Group B.

Grace has played very well early this season—he bagged a win at his hometown South African Open to open his European Tour schedule and carried his form over to the following two weeks at the Abu Dhabu HSBC Championship and the PGA TOUR’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. He fired rounds of 67-67-70-69 to sneak into the top-ten with a ninth-place finish last week.

Max Homa is another viable candidate in this group—he’s posted back-to-back top ten finishes at both the Farmers Insurance Open (9th) and the Waste Management Phoenix Open (6th).  Five of his last eight rounds in those events broke 70—including a sizzling 64 in the third round last week at the WMPO.

Group C 

This is a tough group to figure out as most of the players have compelling pros and cons behind them.

Steve Stricker seems to have the kind of wedge game that would make him a candidate to do something special at Pebble Beach, but it does seem his best years are behind him and he hasn’t yet made a cut on the PGA TOUR this season. J.B. Holmes showed some signs of form last week with opening rounds of 64-65 but limped to the finish with rounds of 70-75 and left Phoenix looking more like the player that missed five cuts in a row last season than he looked like the player who won the Genesis Open earlier in the year.

Scott Piercy played well last week (67-65-68-71) in Phoenix, but it’s tough to believe that form will hold as it represented his first top-ten finish since a runner-up performance at the Byron Nelson in Dallas back in May of last season. Kevin Chappell is still looking to make his first cut in 2020 and isn’t worth the risk until he shows some reason to believe his game is on the rebound.

Like Chappell, most of these players carry a fair amount of risk associated with them as none are too far removed from poor form exhibited either last season or early into this season. Russell Knox is our choice in this group as he seems like the steadiest hand. He’s only posted one over-par round so far this year and managed top-25 finishes in his last two PGA TOUR outings at the Farmers Insurance Open and the WMPO last week. Rounds of 67-67-69 followed up an opening 71 to yield a 16th place finish. He’s only missed one cut of ten since the start of the 2019-2020 PGA TOUR season and (unlike some of the other players in this group) seems to be a lock to play four rounds.

Group D 

Most of the players in this group are playing extremely poorly at the moment. Jordan Spieth continues to struggle to find that elite form we know he has in him—missing the cut last week on the heels of a back-of-the-pack 55th place finish down in San Diego. He is by far the most accomplished player in the group here and might be worth a pick on reputation alone, but recent comments about needing time for grip changes to settle in make it unlikely he plays well this week.

Only one of these six players has posted a top-ten finish on the mainland so far in 2020 and so we’re going to pick Daniel Berger for that reason. They say the one-eyed man is king in the land of blind men and he just may be that guy among these options. Lanto Griffin played well in Hawaii but missed the cut at both last week’s WMPO as well as the Farmers Insurance Open. Conversely, Berger fired round of 69-71-66-67 in Phoenix and rolls into Pebble Beach with some cause for optimism.

Group E 

This group is filled with mostly European Ryder Cup stars and there are two names that jump out instantly among the crowd. The first name is Paul Casey as his steady tee-to-green game seems to suit the tight confines of Pebble Beach quite well. His play through most of last year’s event demonstrate that this place suits him and he’s played well enough (top 25 finishes) in both of his starts in 2020 to merit some consideration. Bettors around the world seem to agree as Casey enters this event as the fourth betting favorite.

However, our pick here is 2010 U.S. Open Champion Graeme McDowell. McDowell returned to the winner’s circle on the European Tour last week in the Saudi International—holding off big names like Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson en route to a final-round 70 that gave him a two-shot cushion over Johnson and three over Mickelson and others. He loves Pebble Beach (winning that U.S. Open title here) and should be on cloud-nine in the wake of his victory.

Group F 

There is a little bit of danger in our pick in our pick here—but we’re going to go with Viktor Hovland.

Most of the players in this group are relatively young rising stars on the PGA TOUR, but Hovland’s star shined the brightest last season with an impressive run of results in the wake of his strong finish at the 2019 U.S. Open. That major championship was contested right here at Pebble Beach and we suspect these friendly confines will make for a comfortable week between the ropes for Hovland.

The risk in this pick is that he has not showed much of the form in the 2019-2020 season that he exhibited at the end of last season. He is yet to record a top-ten finish in 2020 and has only managed to crack the top-25 just once overseas at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

Winning Score Prediction: -17