The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is going to look a lot different this year. There is no Amateur portion of this event so it’s essentially just the Pro, although for the sake of this article we’ll refer to it as the AT&T to keep things sounding cool. The event has been a mainstay on the PGA for some time and traces all the way back to 1937 when Sam Snead won the inaugural running. There’s been a few changes in the courses in the rotation but the modern version of this event has generally featured three courses which the players all get one round on before the 54-hole cut. The Sunday finale, where Pro’s play for the big money and PGA status, and the Ams have their own friendly competition going on, all takes place on Pebble Beach.
Things will be much simpler in 2021 though as no amateurs also means no 54-hole cut and just two courses in play. Gone is Monterey Peninsula, which often plays as the easiest of the three venues and left is Spyglass Hill–the more inland of the three venues–and the host Pebble Beach. After two rounds on Thursday and Friday–one on Pebble, one on Spyglass–the action will move over to Pebble for the remainder. Given that Pebble is situated right on a peninsula in California, wind and poor weather can be and often is a massive factor at this event and this year looks like no exception to that rule. Highs this year look like they may not even crack 60F and winds of 10-15 mph look set to creep in this weekend, along with some rain.
Conditions were also tough here last season when Nick Taylor put on a four-day clinic and won going away at 19-under par. His score didn’t represent how tough Pebble played though as it ranked as the eighth-toughest venue on Tour last season (out of 41) and we should probably expect more of the same in 2021. Joining Taylor back at this event will be former winners Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth, along with 11th ranked Patrick Cantlay, who is now the highest ranked golfer in the field after the withdraw of Dustin Johnson Monday night. DJ was coming off a competition in Saudi Arabia so perhaps the jetlag (and fact he won last week) factored into that decision.
Expect a wet, cold week here with peaks of sunshine that should still shine a light on how great a venue Pebble Beach truly is and how unlucky we all are for not being able to play there on a consistent basis every season.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am course details
- Pebble Beach, 7,051 yards
- Field Size: 154 players
- Purse and Winner’s Prize:
- 7,051 yards, Par 72
- Greens: Poa Annua
- Fairway: Poa Annua
- Rough: Ryegrass
- Architect: : Jack Neville and Douglas Grant (1919)
- 2020 – Nick Taylor (19-under)
- 2019 – Phil Mickelson
- 2018 – Ted Potter Jr.
As mentioned above, there are two venues in play this week, Pebble Beach (mentioned above) and Spyglass Hill. Spyglass plays to very similar yardage to Pebble and is also a short Par 72, with smaller Poa greens. However, Spyglass is also more inland and protected by trees in a lot of places, so at times it can be the better course to play when it’s windy out. It also typically plays as the tougher course and with no shot tracker, we don’t have much data to go, except to know that design-wise it shares at least some similarities with the host.
As for Pebble, the venue features some of the smallest greens on Tour and bumpy Poa greens which often give the players fits. The conditions are often left easier (ie slower greens) for the amateurs here but it is possible they will try and ramp things up a bit given the professionals are taking centre stage this season. Pebble features plenty of doglegs and tight driving chutes with steep cliff edges bordering several fairways so driver isn’t a popular choice here off the tee. Driving distance as a whole here for the week is typically well under the Tour average and a strong Off the Tee game isn’t needed to win–last year’s winner Nick taylor won despite losing strokes OTT for the week.
Great driving may not be needed but a solid approach game and a great around the green game is. Six of the seven top finishers here last season gained a stroke or more around the greens and approach stats were the biggest area of gain for the players who finished inside the top-10 (overall) last season.
In short, we shouldn’t be worrying about what your player is going to do off the tee here as most will be clubbing down a ton and just getting the ball in play. It’s what comes after that is important as ball-striking and smart savvy scrambling will be needed to compete this week.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am betting discussion and picks
From an odds perspective, here is where the last four winners of this event generally went off, from an outright perspective, pre-event for the year of their win:
- 2020 – Nick Taylor +16000
- 2019 – Phil Mickelson +2500
- 2018 – Ted Potter Jr. +30000
- 2017- Jordan Spieth +900
As you can see, we’ve had more than a couple longshot winners at Pebble over the past few years, and if you keep going back you would have found even more (DA Points, Vaughn Taylor etc). Even without the Pro-Am involved the double course rotation and crazy weather changes that happen here means different waves often get different conditions and it can lead to big advantages. Top players with solid course histories have also prospered here long term so if you’re betting the top of the board, make sure they have some Pebble experience already in their back pocket.
Betting favorites to win the 2021 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Johnson comes in as one of the biggest pre-event favorites we’ve seen in quite some time on the PGA Tour. The World Number one is coming off a win in Saudi Arabia last week against a mixed field of PGA stars and European Tour players, and has a fantastic record at Pebble Beach, a venue he’s won at twice and finished T5 or better at in seven of his 12 starts. He’s now finished 2nd or 1st in seven of his last nine starts. DJ is coming over from Saudi though and the last two seasons that same schedule and trip over hasn’t led to good results at Pebble as he’s finished T32 and T45 at this event the last two years. It goes without saying that there’s no juice left in the squeeze here and DJ is not an ideal outright target at this price. (Update: Dustin Withdrew Monday night so who cares)
Cantlay is also coming in off a strong performance as he closed with weekend rounds of 65 and 61 his last time out at the American Express. The three-time PGA Tour winner has now finished T17 or better in each of his last four starts. He’s made the cut in all six of his previous visits to Pebble and has a fantastic short game which should set up for success no matter the forecast this week. There’s likely better value in betting Cantlay in major futures at this point as I pointed out in my Masters preview but a fourth win does seem likely to come soon.
Berger missed his first cut on the PGA in 11-starts last week, losing multiple strokes on his approaches in the process. Considering how consistent Berger had been prior to that we should likely just be writing it off as one bad week. He did finish T5 here last year though and his odds haven’t dipped much this week as a result. It’s not a terrible price on offer here but there’s slightly better value out there for players who look closer to breaking through, at the moment.
Like DJ, Casey played over in Saudi Arabia last week so there could be a bit of a jet lag issue. There’s little doubt that the Englishman is playing some of the best golf right now though as he picked up a win two weeks ago in Dubai and finished T8 and T12 in his other two starts of 2021. He’s finished T8 and 2nd in two of his last three appearances at Pebble.
Spieth is going to be an interesting source of discussion this week. He flashed some of his old upside last week, gaining +7.1 strokes on his approaches in Phoenix, while getting himself into the final group on Sunday. The fact it didn’t result in a win is disappointing but he now comes to a venue where he’s looked awfully comfortable at times and one that sets up well for his strong iron play and elite short game. It’s hard to take a player at +2500 after he was +14000 last week but I’d put no one off chasing Spieth for at least one event here given the venue and weaker field we have here.
Favorite bets (each-ways and outrights)
For more info on types of golf bets available each week, be sure to check out more info here. Each way bets refer to bets that include a bet to win and a bet to place (usually to at least top-5 but sometimes are available up to top-8 or more).
Day may be coming off of two missed cuts but not every missed cut is created equally. His ejection from the WMPO was purely based off of a bad putting week which saw him lose -5.2 strokes on the greens over two rounds, something almost unheard of for as good a putter as Day is. Day looked fine, solid even, with his ball-striking, gaining +2.6 strokes on his approaches over two rounds and it was his irons which were firing in the summer/early Fall of 2020 when he was getting himself into contention again on the regular. The Aussie has never taken to TPC Scottsdale like Pebble Beach either as he now has two MC’s and T57 there in three starts.
Day’s Pebble record is beyond sterling though and the only thing missing from it is a win. Over the last six seasons his worst mark here is a T11 finish from 2016 and he’s now finished T5 or better in each of the past four years. It’s worth noting as well that Day’s success at Pebble is not all putting based as he’s only gained more than a stroke on the greens once over the last four years. The layout clearly suits his eye and his creative short game, like former winners Spieth and Mickelson, can carry him for stretches when wind causes misses into the small greens. Despite the terrible week in Phoenix on the greens, he still ranks 11th in SG: ATG and 26th in SG: PUTT stats over the last 50-round and sets up better for the test ahead this week. Considering how often he gets himself in contention here, we’re getting good enough odds here in this weaker field to take one more shot at him grabbing an early season win.
Molinari has shot himself back into being a weekly consideration for me after two strong starts that were marked by both strong approach play and great around the green work. The Italian went through a prolonged slump, made worse by the pandemic but he’s seemingly found some consistency both on the course and outside it now. He’s now based on the West coast of the USA and so you have to wonder if his hotstart to 2021 could even be buoyed by the first few events being so close to his new home.
The Italian gained +6.1 strokes ball-striking alone at the Farmers where he grinded his way to a T10 finish and closed with a round of 66. He comes into this week already ranked 6th in Around the Green stats and Tee to Green play, and seems to have stepped right back into being the high-end player we once knew, the one who grinded his way to an Open Championship trophy in 2018.
The oddsmakers here haven’t been fooled by him as we’re not getting a huge number, but at the same time if Molinari is truly back there’s few more perfect venues than Pebble Beach, with its small greens and emphasis on sharp iron play and around the green play, for him to excel at. He finished T16 at this venue at the 2019 US Open while gaining +5.2 strokes ATG for the week, and almost every winner here over the last five years has needed that kind of elite around the green play to win here. The price and setup this week are enough for me not to leave him off the card.
If we’re targeting players with decent approach games and good short game/putting stats, who could excel in poor weather, Harman looks like a steal here in the mid to long ranges. The two-time PGA winner has now grinded his way to 15 made cuts in his last 16 starts, and while that stretch is somewhat devoid of big finishes that kind of consistency is worth noting, especially when we get solid odds in a weaker field like this. Harman ranks out third in SG: Putting stats and fourth in SG: Short Game stats over the last 50-rounds and isn’t going to be as hampered here by his lack of distance off the tee as he normally is.
A T8 two starts ago at the Amex is a great sign that his ball-striking isn’t that far off from really clicking either, as he gained +4-strokes on his approaches at that event alone. The setup this week with the smaller greens at Pebble definitely will be somewhat similar to what the players saw at TPC stadium that week too. Harman missed the cut here in each of his last two starts but found a T11 at this event back in 2012 and may find the event more enticing with no amateurs around. He’s good value this week for an each-way regardless.
This event is likely going to be marred by some poor weather and the week could see scoring kept low and a decided emphasis put on short games. With that in mind, I have to give Alex Noren one more shot here before we get off the West coast. Noren opened with a 64 at the Farmers Insurance event a couple weeks ago and is still available here at long odds at what should be a very suitable venue for the Swede.
Ranked 12th in SG: ATG and PUTT over the last 50-rounds he’s the exact type of grinder who should be able to excel in windy conditions at a short, linksy course where the best ball-strikers don’t always prevail on Sunday and guile can sometimes overcome talent. A former Scottish Open champ, Noren’s now had two middling starts in a row to begin the season but has always been a player who seems to get better with more competition and reps, and did find a lot of success here on and around the greens last year, gaining +4.2 strokes putting alone through two rounds, on his way to a T32 finish. He makes the card as a good each-way hedge in case the weather gets really rough.
This is a range I really like targeting this week as we have multiple players whose short games and putting could really lift them. Like nearly all the players I’ve put up this week, Malnati will never be mistaken for an off the tee hero. The Sanderson Farms winner from 2015 ranks just 131st in this field in SG: OTT stats over the last 50-rounds but comes in at a steady eighth in SG: Putting and 11th in SG: Short Game play. He was trending very well over the Fall swing, landing two top-5 finishes, which included a runner-up at the Sanderson Farms again, and grabbed a T10 at the long tough Torrey Pines in his last start of 2021, gaining +3.4 strokes on approach there.
Malnati’s much better suited for Pebble though, given his off the limitations. His T11 finish here last year, despite losing strokes off the tee for the week, is a perfect indication of that. His odds even look a little inflated given the solid course history and fit so I’m happy to have him round out the main each-way targets this week at big odds.
Longshots and top-20’s
Look, Noh is a complete YOLO play. But when you consider that Vaughn Taylor, Nick Taylor and The Wizard, Ted Potter, have won here in three of the past five iterations of this event Noh doesn’t look as crazy as he probably sounds. Three top-20 finishes at Pebble in six starts, a T8 here in 2017 and a short game that’s trending well. Skip the latte’s this week and broaden your Noh-ledge instead.
Stanley’s trending well in the ball-striking department, and when he’s trending well there the rest of his game generally follows. He’s gained over +4.0 strokes in each of his last two starts and has also showcased a sharper short-game, gaining a stroke or more ATG in his last three starts. Stanley’s best finish at this event over seven starts here is a T22 from 2012 but he’s coming in with a refreshed game this year and no amateurs to slow him down. The odds here look juicy enough to take a chance on a trending player who sets up well for this venue.
Ghim’s playing well and both of these players set up nicely for a shorter venue where iron play will come into focus over power. However, Malnati has a pretty solid edge from an experience viewpoint and is the better long-term putter of the two (for now). It’s enough to have me fade Ghim here.
Like Ghim, Tringale is also a player I considered here but ultimately left off. His record at Pebble quite frankly stinks, as he’s only cracked the top-30 once here over his last eight appearances. Harman’s also been the better long-term player here over his career with far more top-end finishes (two wins to Tringale’s zero) so considering both are in solid form, I’m not sure how Harman is the underdog here.
Check out our other AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am content:
- Matchups and outrights from Matt Ramos