2020 Pebble Beach Picks, PredictionsPat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2020 Pebble Beach Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks, provide their one and done strategy for the event from Pebble Beach GL.
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2020 Pebble Beach Picks: Show Index
2020 Pebble Beach FieldField: 156 Players
Cut: Top 60 & Ties after 54 Holes
First Tee: 11 a.m. ET; Thursday, Feb. 6
Defending Champion: Phil Mickelson
Dustin Johnson returns stateside for the first time in 2020 to headline the field of 156, fresh off a silver medal mere days ago in the Middle East. He’s joined at Pebble by Patrick Cantlay, Jason Day, Kevin Kisner, Paul Casey, Brandt Snedeker, Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth, Branden Grace, J.B. Holmes, Adam Hadwin, along with three European Tour regulars making their 2020 US Debuts: Matthew Fitzpatrick, Kurt Kitayama and Rafa Cabrera Bello.
The man who beat DJ and 2010 US Open winner at Pebble Beach, Graeme McDowell, will also be in competitive play just days after an 11-hour time shift. As will defending, and five-time, winner Phil Mickelson. Phil’s T3 in Saudi Arabia over the weekend was his first top 20 result since last year’s Masters.
It’s also important to remember, this is a Pro-Am event. Meaning, each of the pros will be paired with an amateur partner. There are no data to support if certain players are affected positively or negatively by this, but it will lead to much longer rounds than the pros are accustomed. While Holmes, Cantlay and Kevin Na think this is great, most players — and the viewing audience — are going to be pulling their hair out. There are only so many Jim Nantz, “I live on the course” stories we can handle.
Additionally, every player in the field is guaranteed 54 holes, as everyone will rotate between the three-course for the beginning three rounds, then a cut will happen, and the remaining players will finish with 18 holes at Pebble Beach GL.
2020 Pebble Beach: Key StatsStrokes Gained: Approach
Par 5s: Gained
Proximity Gained: 100-150 Yards
Par 4 Gained: 350-400 Yards
Strokes Gained: Around The Green
Mayo’s Custom Stat POWER RANKINGS from FantasyNational.com
2020 Pebble Beach: CoursesCourse: Pebble Beach GL
Par 5 Eagles Last Year: 16
2019 Difficulty: 12/49
Shot Tracker: Yes
Course: Spyglass Hill GC
Par 5 Eagles Last Year: 9
2019 Difficulty: 20/49
Shot Tracker: No
Course: Monterey Peninsula CC
Par 5 Eagles Last Year: 19
2019 Difficulty: 22/49
Shot Tracker: No
2020 Pebble Beach: Past Winners2019: Phil Mickelson -19
2018: Ted Potter Jr. -17
2017: Jordan Spieth -19
2016: Vaughn Taylor -17
2015: Brandt Snedeker -22
2014: Jimmy Walker -11
2013: Brandt Snedeker -19
2012: Phil Mickelson -17
2011: DA Points -15
2010: Dustin Johnson -16
2020 Pebble Beach: NotesAll three courses are incredibly short and limit the advantage of driving distance. Pebble Beach is annually the course with the shortest average drive on TOUR (264 yards vs. 283 yards); and the one with the fewest amount of drives over 300 yards (8.96 percent).
Historically, the field has an easier time hitting fairways at Monterey Peninsula than any other course (75 percent), and don’t expect that to change in 2020.
Shot Link data is only available for Pebble Beach GL. When you’re researching the statistics, keep this in mind as half the rounds golfers have played historically at this event are not weighted.
Short iron specialists, regardless of distance, consistently perform the best on an annual basis. However, PB GL sports much shorter par 4s than its two counterparts. There are six par 4s shorter than 400 yards; at Monterey and Spyglass, there are a combined seven holes from that distance. Those courses have more par 4s from 400-450 yards. Per FantasyNational.com, the players gaining the most strokes on Par 4s less than 400 yards over the past 36 rounds are: Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Cameron Tringale, Kevin Na, Lanto Griffin, Patrick Cantlay, Nick Taylor, Kevin Streelman, Roberto Castro and Steve Stricker.
This is the first tournament of the year with a full complement of Poa Annua greens. Torrey Pines is spilt between Poa and Bentgrass between the courses. For players with at least 10 measured rounds on Poa, Chase Seiffert, Jason Day, Nick Taylor, Graeme McDowell, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar and Josh Teater have gained against the field putting over their last 24 rounds of data.
The putting surfaces at Pebble GL are around 3,500 square feet; almost half the size of an average green on TOUR. That puts a heavy emphasis on the short game since every player will miss plenty of greens, regardless of how well they’re hitting their irons.
Be it because of the weather or driving distance being rendered inert, we’ve gotten a slew of long shot winners in this event over the past 10 years: Ted Potter, Vaughn Taylor, DA Points. And, this field is usually quite good, as evidenced by the other names etched on the trophy: Phil, Spieth, Snedeker, DJ. Almost no player emerges victorious from the middle range of players in the betting odds.
Strokes Gained: Approach has been almost four times as impactful as SG: OTT at Pebble Beach GL among top 10 finishers.
The par 3, seventh hole is the shortest on TOUR at just 106 yards. Since 2003, Nick Watney has made the most birdies on No. 7, followed by Pat Perez and Brandt Snedeker.
Jason Day, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, and Scott Stallings have gained the most strokes at this event over the past five seasons.
Including that quintet, Jim Furyk, Brian Gay, Scott Piercy, Rob Oppenheim, Jonathan Byrd and Johnson Wagner, have all made the cut in each of their starts (minimum three) over the past five years.
Since 2000, the leader or co-leader after 54 holes has gone on to win 11 times including six of the past seven winners. Mickelson was three back of Paul Casey entering the final round in 2019.
Mickelson, Casey, Stallings, Day, Streelman, Glover, Gay and DJ have at least two top 10 finishes in their past three starts at the Pro-Am.
As evidence of past results, with all three courses being located directly on the Monterey Peninsula, massive swings in weather can enhance the difficulty of the courses. Under optimal conditions, all three of these courses are super simple, with plenty of low rounds available. If the coastal gusts begin to emerge, there will be big numbers abound.
Year | Scoring Average | Season Rank in Difficulty in Parentheses
Pebble Beach GL (Host Course; Two Rounds)
2019: +0.130 (10/49)
2018: +0.022 (16/51)
2017: -0.100 (26/50)
2016: +0.028 (16/50)
2015: -1.760 (45/52)
2014 +1.385 (7/48)
2013: -0.588 (29/43)
2012: -0.143 (24/49)
2011: +0.381 (17/51)
Spyglass Hill GC (One Round)
2019: -0.277 (20/49)
2018: -0.221 (22/51)
2017: +0.203 (20/50)
2016: +0.028 (15/52)
2015: -0.801 (32/52)
2014: +0.755 (11/48)
2013: +0.641 (17/43)
2012: +0.581 (18/49)
2011: +0.462 (15/51)
Monterey Peninsula CC (One Round)
2019: -0.348 (22/49) Par 71
2018: -0.942 (38/51) Par 71
2017: +0.260 (19/50) Par 71
2016: -0.301 (25/50) Par 71
2015: -2.064 (50/52) Par 71
2014: +0.252 (22/48) Par 71
2013: +0.244 (21/43) Par 70
2012: -0.117 (23/49) Par 70
2011: -0.160 (25/51) Par 70
2020 Pebble Beach — Targets From Each Range
A T16 in his return from injury, while once again losing strokes on approach for the fifth consecutive event, is good enough to get back the player with immaculate course form. Day’s played this event each of the past six years and has no finish worse than T11. Course history isn’t normally something I weight too heavily, however, this event, and its wonky format have produced the same names on the leaderboard consistently.
Per usual, Casey’s ball striking has been at an elite level to start 2020, even if the results haven’t followed. The Brit has now gained in both SG: OTT and SG: APP in every measured event dating back to last year’s PLAYERS Championship. Casey clearly has an affinity for Pebble Beach too. In two starts the past two years he’s finished second/T8; and put up a T21 result at last year’s U.S. Open.
Jimmy WalkerMuch like last year’s winner Phil Mickelson, getting to tackle a course that highlights approaches and putting and de-emphasizes the drivers is a perfect combination for the 2014 champion. Walker’s now lost strokes off the tee in 10 of his past 11 starts, but he has recaptured the fire with his irons, gaining in five of his past six. Now, you get him back on poa greens, at a discounted price, at a course where he’s made the cut nine of the past 10 years (with a win and four top 10 finishes), and you have the makings of an unsexy sleeper.
Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland, Doc Redman, Xinjun Zhang, Harold Varner III, Aaron Wise, Brandt Snedeker
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Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Daily Fantasy and Traditions Season Long). Beyond sports, Mayo covers everything from entertainment to pop culture to politics. If you have a fantasy question, general inquiry or snarky comment, ship it to Mayo at ThePatMayoExperience@gmail.com and the best will be addressed on the show.
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