Fantasy Golf Picks: 2017 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Sleepers, Starts & Preview
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Defending Champ: Vaughn Taylor
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AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Field
156 Players | Top 60 & Ties After 54 Holes Make the Cut
Last year, Pebble Beach’s 18th hole provided me with one of my favorite sports memories. No, I’m not the world biggest Vaughn Taylor mark. I just hate Phil Mickelson. Sitting in the middle of a moderately priced restaurant with my then-girlfriend, now fiancee, and very soon-to-be-wife, I was tracking the final round on a tiny television from across the room. Golf so rarely gets primo bar TV real estate. Still, while appearing to listen to her recap of this week’s Vanderpump Rules, in that same moment, I eyed Phil lining up a tap-in to force a playoff. After lipping-out the shortest of all short putts on the closing Par 5 to gag away the tournament, I fired off a GIANT fist pump. One that is routinely followed by awkward high-fives to Steve Williams. My gal seem miffed with my overt enthusiasm that Jax had been arrested in Hawaii after stealing sunglasses and getting caught on video in the act. Apparently my ability to look like I’m paying attention is unmatched. Unfortunately, I had to explain what I was really excited about. For people who cheer for people to fail, it’s an easy conversation. Parsing through the points of why you’re so ecstatic bad things have happened to someone, when that person is very pro good-things-happening-to-people, is more of a struggle. You just come off looking petty.
I love rooting against Phil. Seeing him lose is truly one of my favorite things in sports. The same pleasure people get from cheering vigorously against Duke, the Yankees, Patriots or Floyd Mayweather, I get from Hefty collapsing. And, it’s really nothing again Mickelson, either. By all accounts, his arrogant, rich-guy attitude is squarely in my wheelhouse. But, I’m a Tiger guy, and there’s no room to back both. Even with Tiger currently relearning how to hit a golf ball, there’s just something in me that needs to see Phil fail. Part of it is the amount of success Mickelson’s achieved. It’s kinda mean-spirited to actively bash Tyler Aldridge; that guy is out there trying to earn his TOUR card and make a living. Phil’s won 42 times, his grandchildren’s, grandchildren’s, nephew’s stand-in fluffer is already set for life. The only real reason you hate-watch anyone or anything in sports is because they’re too successful. It’s not like there are droves of people united in their hatred for the Washington Generals. That would be strange.
Phil missed a five-footer on 18 last year to lose to Vaughn Taylor. Who was coming in on short notice and using what amounts to a driving range golf bag. Please, never for get that. Some people have their Phil out-of-the-pine-straw-at-Augusta moment. I have this. Hope something similar can transpire this season, because HE’S BACK AGAIN!!!!! But he’s certainly not the headliner in Pebble Beach.
Phil is taking a backseat to some of the world’s best: Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, and Justin Rose. They’re followed up with a solid middle tier featuring former champ Brandt Snedeker, Jon Rahm, Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Daniel Berger, JB Holmes, Kevin Kisner, OLD MAN Steve Sticker, YOUNG MAN Beau Hossler, and a trio of former world number one’s - Luke Donald, Ernie Els and David Duval. Oh, Jim Fuyrk will finally be making his first start of 2017 too. And guess what? They’ll all have the joy of getting to play with a celebrity partner.
This is where things come off the rails.
Look, I’m not against Pro-Ams, in fact they can be fun from time-to-time. However, the celebrity aspect of Pebble Beach, and how it affects the CBS coverage, makes it borderline unwatchable. Integrating them into the coverage can be fun, but what I don’t need is a five-minute interview with Larry The Fucking Cable Guy while Jim Nantz ruins twelve pairs of pants. It’s insufferable. Golf coverage has a hard enough time showing golf shots to begin with; Jake Owen cracking out his trusty acoustic in the booth is the last thing this broadcast needs. If that’s something I wanted to see, I’d have already married my cousin. Seeing Bill Murray take a few hacks is great, because who doesn’t love Bill Murray? Showing shots from some huge fund manager, who’s paired with some dud like Ryan Armour because he told the producer he’d sacrifice a quarter-percent of his dividend commission in return for some screen time: Unnecessary.
Also, since the event is split across three courses, the coverage of anything happening away from Pebble Beach, which is the host course, may as well not even happen. We almost didn’t see a single shot from Adam Hadwin’s 59 a couple weeks ago because he wasn’t playing at the main course. Between Golf Channel and CBS, you’d think they could just mount a few GoPros to a tree near the green, or make the caddies wear a web-cam on their jaunty chapeaus. NOPE. Apparently that’s impossible. They don’t even have shot tracker at Monterey Peninsula or Spyglass Hill. If you play DraftKings, and are invested in seeing how your players are doing on a stroke-by-stroke basis. DON’T!!!!! It will drive you mad. Just check in at the end of the day and save yourself the frustration.
That said, I’ll be glued to the tube every second. Some people love being OUTRAGED with political commentary on Facebook as a hobby, I just like to stew, and get pissed about golf coverage. We all have our outlets. And, there’s no scenario where I’d miss Phil holding a two-stroke lead on the 72nd hole and witnessing him plop one into the Pacific. I don’t know what I’d do with myself.
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Key Stats
Scrambling > 20 Yards
Strokes Gained: Approach
Proximity 50-125 Yards (Fairway)
Par 5 Scoring
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Course
Pebble Beach Golf Links (Host Venue) | Par 72 | 6,816 Yards
Spyglass Hill Golf Club | Par 72 | 6,953 Yards
Monterey Peninsula Country Club, Shore Course | Par 71 | 6,914 Yards
As has become the custom, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am will not be held exclusively at Pebble Beach GL. The players will rotate between the troika of layouts for the first three rounds with the cut coming after round three, before the entire field returns to Pebble Beach for the final 18 holes. DraftKings players should make note of this, as they’ll get a free round from each of their players. This lends itself perfectly to Stars & Scrubs roster construction. Especially targeting cheap players who can pile up birdies on Par 5s. While they may make too many bogeys to make it to Sunday, DFS GOLF puts a very strong weight on those who score: Birdies and Eagle are where the points rest, and if a few of these cheapos can allow you squeeze some superstars into your roster, it’s well worth it.
For the courses themselves, while all different, they do share some common elements. They’re all incredibly short - Pebble and Monterey are two of the four shortest tracks on TOUR - to the point where most players won’t be hitting driver off the tee. Taking the big stick out of play improves accuracy across the board. So, players who normally don’t have great accuracy will see a significant improvement since sacrificing length isn’t an issue. The field finds the short grass over 70% of the time across the three courses.
They also all sport tiny putting surfaces. Greens in Regulation come at a premium. Fortunately, since there are mini-putt courses that are longer, a lot of approach shots on the Par 4s are going to come from 125 Yards and in, off the fairway. Now, it’s unreasonable to think any player is going to stick their wedges every time, especially with the greens being so small, but a shrunken proximity from that range is going to lead to a lot of scoring. Conversely, since pobody's nerfect, expect an overwhelming amount of short scrambling situations. When Snedeker won in 2015, he made par or better on 12 of the 13 greens he missed (92%). Ideally, you’re looking for a deadly wedge players with exceptional short games. That’s the type of player who routinely wins.
A hot putter will always be the great equalizer. However, Poa Annau greens can normalize the skill level with the flat stick. When you putt at Augusta or TPC Sawgrass, it’s like watching a ball skate across glass. Poa Annau grass is bumpy, slow, and doesn’t necessarily run true. Especially when you take the coastal factors into play. Hell, wind itself can be bad enough… When it starts blowing sand and rocks in the middle of your putting line, you’ve got real issues. Despite a relative lack of undulations and extreme breaks, Pebble Beach has historically been one of the toughest courses to make putts from 10-20 feet over the years. Again, this is why an elite short game will save strokes of the scorecard.
In ideal conditions, these can be three of the easiest courses on TOUR. Ideal conditions are the key though. There are off-shoot rounds or even entire years where weather has dictated tougher scoring conditions.
Year | Scoring Average | Season Rank in Difficulty in Parentheses
Spyglass Hill GC
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)
Pebble Beach GL
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)
Monterey Peninsula CC
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*
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Picks (Yahoo! Game)
*I’m on vacation. There are no write ups for the picks. Deal with it*
A-List: Patrick Reed & Jason Day
B-List: Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Adam Hadwin, & Jim Furyk
C-List: JB Holmes & Sean O'Hair
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