2019 Pebble Beach Picks, Rankings, Sleepers, Preview

Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2019 Pebble Beach Picks. The guys give their fantasy golf picks and provide their one and done strategy for the event from Pebble Beach.

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2019 Pebble Beach Picks: Show Index

0:22 Giveaways
6:35 Waste Management Recap
29:52 PGA NEWS
38:31 Pebble Course/Stats
42:28 Favorites
54:25 Middle Tier
1:06:48 Longshots
1:15:58 Quick Picks
1:18:07 One and Done

2019 Pebble Beach Field

156 Players | Top 60 & Ties Make The Cut after 54 Holes
First Tee: 11 a.m. ET; Thursday, Feb. 7
Defending Champion: Ted Potter Jr.

Golf won’t allow us to have Waste Management levels of fun for very long. That’s why the tour follows it up with the most enraging sporting broadcast of the year with Pebble Beach. Nothing beats seven-hour rounds, limited TV coverage on two of the three courses, no shot tracker, and extended swing breakdowns and interviews with noted celebrities such as Larry The Cable Guy, No Doubt’s drummer and Transformers’ ninth male lead, Josh Duhamel. Oh, you can always count on some random country star having his acoustic handy and just itching to serenade Jim Nantz with a slow-paced ballad.

The field itself? Pretty strong, per usual. With Pebble hosting the US Open this year, an atypical amount of talent, for this event, has ventured across the pond to get acclimated with the course. Although, Pebble Beach for this tournament will in no way mirror the set up the USGA will set up in June.

Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay (WD), Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar and Adam Scott headline the field. Along with Patrick Reed, fresh off the sub optimal California-Saudi Arabia-California in consecutive weeks trip. Maybe his trip was quick enough that the jet leg negates itself?

Playing host to the year’s second major, coupled with the PLAYERS being moved to March and two WGCs squeezed in before The Masters, the influx of international talent has started to show up much earlier this year. This cavalcade is headlined by world No. 13 Tommy Fleetwood, who went T42/T16 in the United Arab Emirates. But he’s not alone, he’s got a bunch of his EURO pals with him: Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Matthew Fitzpatrick, 2010 Pebble US Open champ Graeme McDowell and Abu Dhabi winner Shane Lowry all will be making their first PGA start in 2019.

Oh, tournament organizers gave a special invitation to Korean Internet sensation Ho-Sung Choi. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Choi’s work, you will be after this week. There’s a chance Matthew Wolff and his crazy swing was invited to play in Phoenix last week just to acclimate viewers with the antics Ho-Sung has in store for Pebble. Frankly, I can’t believe the 45-year-old has never wiped out while mimicking a turnstile.

The field is rounded out with the regular collection of PGA regulars like two-time Pebble champ and tournament record holder Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Kisner, Andrew Putnam, Adam Hadwin, Si WOOOOO Kim, Pat Perez, Chesson Hadley, Jimmy Walker, Chez Reavie and Stewart Cink. They’re joined by the 23-and-under wave of Cameron Champ, Sungjae Im and Cameron Davis. To counterbalance that youth, there are six players over 50 in the field as well: Steve Stricker, Davis Love III, Vijay Singh, Kenny Perry, Jerry Kelly and 64-year-old Peter Jacobson.

Oh no, I just realized what could be worse than one of the celebrities belting out a tune in the booth. If CBS wanted to troll the viewers, it’d purchase the right to Jacobson’s tribute song to Johnny Miller that NBC aired during Saturday’s round at Scottsdale. If there was a TV equivalent of the Razzie Awards, this would sweep. So, so bad.

One final thing to watch: Ernie Els is making his first PGA start of the year. Yes, he’s a legend, and now injury free, he’s playing some really good golf lately. The President’s Cup captain, maybe he’s trying to play well enough to make himself a captain’s selection to set up a captain-vs-captain showdown with Tiger at Royal Melbourne. Since last year’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October, Els has vaulted over 200 spots in the world rankings and reeled off nine consecutive cuts made, before catching an early flight out of Saudi Arabia this weekend.

Still, in advance of that, the South African was T15/T26/T12 in his previous three starts.

2019 Pebble Beach Key Stats

Strokes 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

2019 Pebble Beach Course(s)

Pebble Beach GL

Par: 72
Yardage: 6,816
Greens: Poa (Poa Putting Leaders)
Par 5 Eagles Last Year: 27
Shot Tracker: Yes

Spyglass Hill GC

Par: 72
Yardage: 6,953
Greens: Poa (Poa Putting Leaders)
Par 5 Eagles Last Year: 7
Shot Tracker: No

Monterey Peninsula CC

Par: 71
Yardage: 6,958
Greens: Poa (Poa Putting Leaders)
Par 5 Eagles Last Year: 19
Shot Tracker: No

2019 Pebble Beach Notes

There are three courses in play at the 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Pebble Beach GL, Spyglass Hill GC, Monterey Peninsula CC. All players are guaranteed three rounds, and the cut will take place after 54-holes on Saturday evening. The top 60 and ties will make the cut, and the field will play Pebble Beach GL for the final round. Like the Desert Classic, which also rotates between three courses, DraftKings lineups should be built on the more volatile and risky side this week with every player guaranteed 54 holes of action. A winning lineup still will require all six players to get through to Sunday with a slew of top finishers, but it’s conceivable, based on birdie and eagle points, that a player who misses the cut could outscore a player who tanks Sunday. Depending on which course the field starts on, they’ll play a MP/SH/PB; PB/MP/SH; or SH/PB/MP rotation.

Outright wagering, DraftKings Showdown contests, and in-play 3-balls/H2Hs are extreme difficult this week, because………… Shot Link data and Shot Tracker only exist at Pebble Beach GL. We’ll be lucky to have a stationary camera at Spyglass and Monterey. Granted, coverage was better for the Desert Classic than every year before, maybe CBS and Golf Channel finally have got their act together. The lack of Shot Link data is a real killer, though. Both for this year and historical number. It’s tough to draw many conclusions on what has happened at MP or SH without concrete data, or we get into a situation where we try to extrapolate the numbers from PB on to the other courses, which just doesn’t work. For 3-Balls and H2Hs this week, either avoid them completely, or target the players who have played PB the day before, so at least you can see who’s gaining strokes through ball striking and who’s merely riding a hot putter. If you’re ever wondering the best way to play these matchups (or pinpoint players for Showdown contest), I used an example with Carlos Ortiz during Round 3 in Phoenix to highlight backing poor putters in-play against those who are running pure. Obviously, this isn’t going to work every time, but the variance in putting from Cameron Champ can drive it 330 yards whenever he wants; Wes Bryan isn’t always going to the lead the field in putting, and he’s never driving it 330 yards. Back the consistent skills. As seen in that Ortiz example, Fantasy National makes this super easy to track and research as the tournament unfolds. And, this is the last event that uses multiple courses, so we’re almost out of the woods on the shot link data.

All three courses are pretty similar, as in, they’re incredible short and mitigate 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 this season; Spyglass will resemble what it has in previous years, too. What likely will change, however, is the high driving accuracy percentage and difficulty at Pebble Beach.

With the USGA rigging up Pebble for the US Open in June, the course already has started to undergo some modification. The USGA didn’t begin growing the rough out until after the conclusion of the AT&T in 2010. This year, the rough already has been thickened, made even more dense after the rainfall on the weekend and during the early week, not to US Open level yet, but far more problematic than normal, and, there’s a lot more of it. Fairways at Pebble Beach are no longer wide enough to land the Spruce Moose. Driving accuracy and around-the-green work will be critical at PB, more so than previous seasons, at least.

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.

Despite so many short wedge shots coming from the fairway, the GIR rate, at all three courses, are some of the lowest on TOUR. The greens are just wee. 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 short game since every player will miss plenty of greens, regardless of how well they’re hitting their irons. Scoring should be well into the double digits below par, playing damage control to avoid big numbers is essential to maintaining a spot on the leaderboard. Also, stay out of the ocean. That helps.

There’s one thing that can blow this all up, too. THE WIND!!! Scanning 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 Nigel Tufnel controls the gusts, there will be big numbers abound. Predicting a forecast is basically impossible, but utilizing  the closest wind tower will generate the most accuracy.

Year | Scoring Average | Season Rank in Difficulty in Parentheses

Pebble Beach GL (Host Course; Two Rounds)

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)

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)

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

Whether it’s because of the weather or driving distance being rendered inert, we’ve gotten some absolute scrub winners of this event over the past 10 years: Ted Potter, Vaughn Taylor, DA Point. And, this field is usually quite good.

Strokes Gained: Approach has been almost four times as impactful as SG: OTT at Pebble Beach GL among top-10 finishers. That gap should decrease in for 2019, and lean accuracy over distance when factoring off-the-tee work.

Since this is a Pro-Am, every pro has an amateur with them and play as groups of four, making the rounds incredibly slow. They could take upwards of 7-8 hours at PB if the rough is actually far more penal than usual. While Kevin Na and Patrick Cantlay think this is great, most players, and the viewing audience, are going to be pulling their hair out.

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.

Jordan Spieth (50.7), Dustin Johnson (49.7), Jason Day (43.9), Jimmy Walker (42.9) and Pat Perez (35.4) have gained the most strokes at this event over the past five seasons.

In addition to that quintet, Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk, Brian Gay, Derek Fathauer, Sean O’Hair, Alex Cejka, Aaron Baddeley and Jonathan Byrd 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 in eluding five of the past six winners.

2019 Pebble Beach Picks — Targets From Each Range

Jordan Spieth

Zero. Again, Zero top-10 finishes for Golden Boy since last year’s British Open (T9). Not great, Jordo. This time last year, we still were backing Spieth because his tee-to-green numbers were off the charts, he just couldn’t putt. Now, while the putting has normalized, not to his peak, but back to TOUR average, so has his ball striking. Through these recent struggles, the one thing he keeps doing well is smacking his short irons close, gaining strokes vessels the field in from 100-175 yards over his past 10 starts. And, striking it close with wedges at Pebble Beach is what gets you paid. The winner of this event in 2017, Spieth has played his tournament in each of the past six season and never finished worse than T22. He surprised most at Torrey Pines two weeks ago with a modest T35 (that course just doesn’t fit his game), and that was with massive accuracy issues. Driving the ball, not so big of a deal this week.

Phil Mickelson

The 2019 Pebble Beach Pro-Am will be the four-time champion’s 23rd start at this event. Normally, I’m not a Phil backer; however, he fits a similar mold to Spieth. They’re god awful with a driver in their hands, so decrease the impact of that club, and all of a sudden Phil’s skills rate just as good as anyone in the field. Plus, it’s a great buy-low spot on the heels of a truly horrendous second round at TPC Scottsdale. After Round 1, Mickelson was among the leaders in all three facets of Tee-To-Green, and really dominating in approach (+2.28). It seemed like he had carried all the momentum over from his runner-up performance in La Quinta two weeks before. Then, the second round happened. Complete disaster. He lost almost two strokes with his irons, and the strangest part, lost almost three strokes around the green. Phil Mickelson being the worst player in the field from just off the putting surface, that’s got to be an aberration. If it’s not, Phil’s cooked for the rest of his career. Anticipate a rebound week for last year’s silver medalist. Oh, on top of the four wins, Mickleson is finishing inside the top 10 of this event at almost a 50 percent clip (10/22).

Sungjae Im

With the Korean more than double his age garnering the attention this week, 20-year-old Im gets a chance to fly under the radar and surprise people on the leaderboard come Sunday. The reigning Web.com Tour player of the year, Sungjae just continues to impress in the ball striking department since joining the big tour. This will be his fifth straight start to open his season, and he’s gained more than two strokes ball striking in each, made the cut in every event, with three finishes T16 or better, including a T7 last week in Phoenix.

Chez Reavie

Rode a hot flat stick until the irons started clicking on the weekend in Phoenix, last year’s second place has played so well for over a year now, that it feels like he can sneak out a win somewhere, and Pebble is one of his best shots. The lack of length can be overcome here. Over the past 12 rounds, Chez sits top 10 in the field in SG APP (second), Fairways Gained (third), SG ATG (eighth), and is tops in proximity gained from both 125-150 yards and 150-175 yards. Stretching the sample back to 24 rounds, Reavie remains top 10 in all the aforementioned categories but also leaps inside the top 20 in Proximity gained from 100-125 yards as well. I worry about his lack of consistency on the short Par 4s, especially based on his skill profile, but it was of no hinderance last year, as he finished tops in the field in Par 4s gained with a 3.77 scoring average. After his T7 at the Waste Management Open, Chez is now inside the top 50 of the world rankings. One more quality result and he’ll guarantee himself invites to both upcoming WGCs, and, likely, a Masters Invitation.

Other notable names appearing near the top of stat models and the win simulator at FantasyNational.com: Dustin Johnson, Tony Finau, Adam Svensson, Ryan Palmer, Patrick Cantlay, Jason Day, Brandt Snedeker, Tommy Fleetwood, Corey Conners

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 2019 Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award, and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2019 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year). His 17 Fantasy Sports Writing Association 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.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.