AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Preview & a few intriguing plays
Last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was an entertainment disappointment. Due to Covid, the field was among the weakest since the tournament’s 1947 inaugural event. With a lack of star players and star celebrities, the tournament missed the mark on its annual objective of “look at all these famous people playing golf”.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Overview
As for the courses, Pebble Beach is an oceanside course rotation between Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Monterrey Peninsula’s Shore Course. Mistakes can be amplified, due to sudden drops in elevation. The hazards are plentiful on this treacherous course. The only other major concern is the wind. We shall plan accordingly this week, following tee-to-green stats.
Pebble Beach is such a classic, well-known course. Last year’s field was full of lesser-known players (due to Covid) and this year won’t be a lot better. Even with a scarce field, it should still be an entertaining event, as it always has been. For now, the pairings are up, the tee times are set, and we’re ready to hit stripes.
The American Express Recap & AT&T Preview
The American Express wasn’t the safe board we expected. After nailing the winner in our first article of the season, we came crashing back down to earth at the American Express Open. Brian Harman T-20 (+275) was our only winner of the even. On the season, we’re now +7.75 on units. It’s early, but we’re still off to a great start following the Hideki Matsuyama win.
Last season, with no history playing professionally at Pebble Beach, we cashed on Maverick McNealy to finish top 10. He finished 2nd and we cashed a nice winner. This year, McNealy is much higher on everyone’s radar. We will be weary of the wind and hazards this week before making our choices for our card.
Metrics to track this week
This week, we’re looking at the golfers who have done well here in the past, as well as those who excel in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green. The key is keeping the ball in play this week:
Past performance at Pebble Beach
Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green & Approach
Good luck this week!
Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook
Teeing Off – Two Players to finish in the top 40
Brandon Harkins +140
Are you ready for a real deep-dive pick this week? Brandon Harkins is a 35 year old currently playing on the Korn Ferry Tour. He’s led a relatively quiet life in golf until very recently. On November 21st of 2021, Harkins won his first professional/non-PGA sanctioned event at Pebble Beach in the TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invitational (shooting a -21). Just a week ago, Harkins won the Bahamas Great Abaco Classic for his first Korn Ferry Tour victory of his career.
Harkins currently doesn’t have any metrics listed to help us this week, as he’s unlisted on the PGA Tour website. Fortunately, he has shown us a lot over the last few months. It’s enough for me to put faith in him this week to crack a T-40.
Austin Smotherman +140
Austin Smotherman is a Korn Ferry Tour veteran (27 years old) making his first go at the PGA Tour. It’s not quite the same, but Austin finished 11th this season at Torrey Pines. It’s a similar location, oceanside layout, and comparable yet unpredictable wind. Smotherman has made the cut in half his events this season, but last week was easily his best finish on the young season.
We highlighted the keys to success at this course in the overview. Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee, Approach, and tee-to-green are all important. Austin ranks 23rd in SG: Off-the-tee, 37th in Approach, and 35th in SG: Tee-to-green. Where Austin has struggled has been on the Green itself (205th in SG: Putting). Hey, if he can play clean from tee-to-green, he should be good for a T-40 finish.
Middle of the Fairway – Two Players to finish in the top 20
Michael Thompson +300
We’re giving Michael Thompson another chance this time. We picked him for our card in the American Express Open and it seriously backfired (he failed to make the cut). Last year, he finished 34th at this event. He finished 10th here in 2019 and 19th here in 2014, so we know he’s relatively comfortable on this course. Adding to it, he finished 11th last week at Torrey Pines (similar course).
Thompson doesn’t have the friendliest metrics this season. This choice is more about his past performances here and his most recent tournament (The Farmers Insurance). He’s 56th in Strokes Gained: Around-the-green and 59th in Strokes Gained: Putting. At least he’s been solid with driving accuracy (44th). If he fails us again this week, we’ll be done with him going forward (I promise).
Mito Pereira +180
Mito Pereira is an emerging, young gun on the PGA Tour. He’s one of those talented young guys out of Peru, and he’s having a solid 2022 season thus far. Pereira is currently 30th in the FedEx Cup standings, finishing 3rd at the Fortinet in September and 25th last weekend at the Farmers. Mito is certainly on a good trajectory right now, as he was just 180th in the FedEx Cup standings a year ago.
Mito’s advanced metrics are very good this year and project well for this event. He’s 7th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 46th in SG: Off-the-tee, 21st in SG: Tee-to-green, and 17th in Strokes Gained: Total. Mito also sits 27th in Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIRP). Though he was cut at this course last time in the US Open, it was his first and only crack at it. His opening round 77 certainly didn’t help.
Edge of the Green – Two Players to finish in the top 10
Patrick Cantlay -110
Okay, we are done ignoring Patrick Cantlay this season. He’s the current favorite to win the tournament, but we don’t feel THAT crazy about him this week. Cantlay has made the cut here in each of the five AT&T Pebble Beach events. He also finished 21st here in 2019 at the US Open. Patrick has finished inside the Top 11 three of those five times (3rd, 9th, 11th).
So far, the new season hasn’t been a very busy one for Cantlay. He’s only played in three events so far, but he’s finished inside the top 10 of each one (1,4,9). On the metrics side, Cantlay is about as good as it realistically gets, given this field. He’s 1st in GIRP, 2nd in Birdie Avg, 6th in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee, 41st in Approach, 16th in Tee-to-Green, and 14th in Strokes Gained: Total. Cantlay as a T-10 this week seems about as good as a safe bet gets.
Cameron Tringale +250
Cameron Tringale is playing some prime golf at the moment. He’s currently 7th in the FedEx Cup after a hot start to this season. He has three T-10 finishes thus far (2nd at Zozo, 7th at HP Enterprise, and 3rd at Farmers). Overall, he has five T-25 finishes in nine events. At Pebble Beach, Tringale ( a SoCal native) finished 7th here a year ago and has made the cut in seven of his last eight events here.
Tringale’s finish here last season and his FedEx Cup ranking sure are nice, but the advanced metrics don’t necessarily support him to finish well this week. Cameron stands just 64th in GIRP, 81st in Strokes Gained: Approach, and 51st in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green. The positive here is his overall performance in Strokes Gained: Total. Tringale is 25th in that category, thanks to his solid putting and overall scoring average. Fingers crossed he can T-10 here again.
Short Putt – One Player to finish in the top 5
Justin Rose +400
Justin Rose is a name we haven’t heard mentioned much in the past few years. Sure, he pops-up every now and again, but he’s 41 now. We can’t expect the Justin Rose of old. Despite the age and slide from prominence, Rose is having a great season. He’s made all six cuts this season and finished T-12 in half his events. A 6th place finish last week at the Farmers highlights how solid he’s been. At Pebble Beach over his career, Rose has finished Top 6 two of the three times he’s played here (3rd at the 2019 US Open).
Rose is 23rd in Birdie Average, 35th in Strokes Gained: Approach, 34th in Strokes Gained: Total, but only 96th in GIRP. For someone as old as Rose, it’s a bit odd to see he’s only played here three times. However, two top 6 finishes in three events is something to feel especially confident about. Expect Rose to kill it on the Greens this week in San Diego.