Best Bets – Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach Pro-Am – Best BetsIt was nice to see Webb Simpson play some clutch golf late last week, as his comeback victory in the playoff at the Phoenix Open was the 2nd winner of 2020 for these pieces. There is no way that pace of picking two winners every month or so will keep up throughout the year, but that doesn't mean I can't try.
This week the Tour is at Pebble Beach for the annual Pro-Am there. It's an event that's filled with extremely long rounds for the players and one that can be tough to dissect. Understanding how guys will perform while having a celebrity playing partner to concern themselves with is always a tough ask, and just like we had for a few weeks before last, it's another tournament where multiple courses are involved.
Venue: Pebble BeachNot going to spend much time talking about the other two courses involved in Monterey Shore and Spyglass Hill, as everyone in the field will get a crack at both and they are both very easy for guys on Tour. Monterey Shore is by far the easiest of the three so you'd better hope your players make some hay during their round there, but with the nature of this being a Pro-Am event, all three courses are generally set up fairly easy to keep the amateurs involved. Generally speaking, Tour players better have the goal of at least sniffing -20 if they want to claim this title, as the winning score here has been -17 or better for seven of the past eight winners.
Par-Yardage: 72, 6820 yards
However, even with a relatively easy set-up, should the weather kick up as it can do at Pebble Beach, guys will have some issues to deal with. That basically means dealing with windy conditions, and while it will affect scores somewhat, it's not anything that should drastically change your opinion on a guy if everything else checks out for you. With the course setup being what it is, guys and just go bombs away off the tee without any real fear of severe repercussions and from there it becomes who is on their game in terms of pin-seeking approach shots and making a few putts.
Betting OddsDue to the nature of this event being one that can be very grinding on guys through the first three days, it's nowhere near the deepest field we will see on Tour. There are still some solid names at the top with Dustin Johnson (13/2) leading the way, but only he and Patrick Cantlay (12/1) are currently listed below a 20/1 price.
After that you've got a slew of guys in the 20/1 to 30/1 range as names like Jason Day, Paul Casey, two-time winner Brandt Snedeker, Matthew Fitzpatrick and the man who loves to “hit bombs” Phil Mickelson among that group. It makes for a convoluted range in terms of the usual breakdown of this piece, so you won't see your typical favorite through longshot prices this week.
So without further ado, let's get to this week's breakdown and see if we can't have another solid week out on Tour.
Top 10 Betting Choices
Golfers to Watch
- Dustin Johnson 13/2
- Patrick Cantlay 12/1
- Jason Day 20/1
- Paul Casey 20/1
- Matt Kuchar 25/1
- Brandt Snedeker 25/1
- Matthew Fitzpatrick 25/1
- Phil Mickelson 30/1
- Viktor Hovland 30/1
- Branden Grace 30/1
Favorite: Branden Grace (30/1)Grace is a guy that's been trending upwards recently, as his last four professional starts feature three Top 10 finishes – including one win – and a 17th place finish as well. If he can find a hot putter this week, he's got all the rest of the skills needed to succeed here, ranking 22nd in Strokes Gained: Approach and 31st in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green this year. Albeit those numbers come from a limited sample size, but he has hit nearly 75% of his greens this year, and when you consistently do that, eventually the low scores will come.
Furthermore, he's got finishes of 28th and 20th at this event the past two years, so dealing with all the extra curriculars that come with this tournament shouldn't bother him too much. Given that seven of the last 11 winners of this tournament all finished in the Top 30 here the year prior to winning – three of the other four did not play the year prior to winning – that's a bit of a good omen for Grace and his potential this week. With the way his game has been rounding into form lately, it might not be long before we see him in the winner's circle.
Mid-Range: Kevin Kisner (40/1)Kisner is a guy with a similar skill set to Grace in that he struggles with accuracy off the tee (not really an issue here) and can be plagued by cold spells with the putter. Yet, he's consistently solid in everything else, and if he can get the flatstick rolling this week, the 40/1 price on him will feel rather high.
Kisner did miss the cut in his last start three weeks ago, but prior to that he had three straight Top 15 finishes, so it's not like his current form is a hindrance. Putting it all together this week isn't a huge ask out of Kisner this week, and while he hasn't always loved his trips to Pebble Beach this time of year throughout the course of his career (four missed cuts in last six appearances), he does own finishes of 28th and 10th here in two of the past three years. He's a guy that can get streaky hot when he gets going as we've seen in his three career PGA Tour wins, as well as some near misses, and I would not be surprised at all to see that Kisner show up this week.
Long-Shot: Rafa Cabrera Bello (60/1)Not your typical long-shot price by any means, but I couldn't bypass him at these odds in this type of field. The fact that he's never won on American soil is always going to be a deterrent for some, but he's got a similar statistical profile to the other two guys already mentioned, all be it a little worse in every category, but much more consistent.
Cabrera Bello just has to up that level of consistency to have a shot at victory here, and with two Top 30 finishes at this event the last two years, it's a course he's got some level of comfort with. He's the better putter of the three guys listed here, albeit not as streaky as the other two, but he's also the guy who's probably going to benefit a lot from this being an amateur-like setup. Cabrera Bello can have a wayward swing or two each round that usually pulls him out of contention when he's there, but those penalties aren't going to be nearly as severe this week and that's a plus.
Whether or not he can maintain the high level of play for all four rounds is a bit of a concern, but guys priced in this range will always have some concerns to overcome. All you can do is accept that as the case and hope that they do indeed find a way to push through.
72 Hole Matchup to Take: Branden Grace (-135) over Graeme McDowellAlready mentioned a few reasons for getting behind Grace this week in general, and in a matchup against a guy in McDowell who is coming off a win overseas last week, some may be concerned about the current form edge siding with McDowell.
But it's so hard to win on Tour as it is, let alone doing it in consecutive weeks in your 40's, and mixed in with the long travel for McDowell, if there ever was a 'letdown' spot in golf, this would have to qualify (as would young guys coming off first career win). It's hard to figure McDowell will be as sharp as he was a week ago in Saudi Arabia, and with Grace getting that first state-side event out of the way last week, he's a rather easy selection here.
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