The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. You tell me what two words you take out of that tournament name? Pebble Beach. Of course. As beautiful as Torrey Pines was last weekend, you can picture the curves of some of the iconic holes players will face down this weekend the way you can picture Amen Corner. Here are a few things to keep in mind about the place, and the tournament, as you fill out your rosters for your PGA lineups this weekend.
Like last weekend, this is a tournament that actually plays out on different courses – in this case, three in total. Spyglass Hill GC and the Monterrey Peninsula CC’s Shore Course are both used during the Pro-Am days Thursday-Saturday, before the tournament finishes up at Pebble Beach on Sunday.
The Pro-Am aspect of the tournament is an interesting one for the players. These guys are professionals, and the first couple of days – while entertaining as all get out for the fans – often comes off looking like a charity tournament you might get invited to, except for the whole “it’s being played at the nicest course you’ve ever seen” thing. Dustin Johnson is playing the first couple of rounds with his future father-in-law! (Of course, his future father-in-law is Wayne Gretzky). No matter who he is, we all know how that can impact your game – I hope they’re close. (You assume they must be if they’re still playing together in what will be DJ’s second tourney back after about a six-month hiatus). But in all seriousness, some players do seem to thrive in this environment more than others, so looking at past winners here and at tourneys like the Humana Challenge would make sense – especially if you see any overlap (Mickelson, perhaps?).
The fact that this course has a bit of everything – a par-3 just over 100 yards, and another at 208. A par-5 under 500, and another at 580. It’s got glorious backdrops, and well-placed bunkers, and a stiff ocean breeze at times. This lends itself to one thing: the guy playing best this weekend is going to win. For the top guys, it’s challenging enough to ruin them if they bring their B game, but it’s got just enough strokes out there to be gained for the lower-ranked pros to take a run at the top of the leaderboard if they are hitting it well for four straight.
For that reason, you really want to look at who is trending in the right direction, who is playing well right now, perhaps even more than who has played well here in the past. And when those two things happen to converge in the same place, that’s how you end up with a $17,400 player (Jimmy Walker, four straight top-15s AND defending champ).
But however you make your decisions, enjoy watching this weekend – the #1 rated golf course in the country, hosting a dozen or so of the top golfers in the world, is enough to make you dream of summer no matter where in the country you are right now.