Wednesday, February 11, 2015

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Fantasy Picks

Brandt Snedeker, the 2013 champion, is in pretty good form as he travels to the Monterey Peninsula. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

The AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is the last of the three tournaments this season that utilizes multiple courses. All feature 156-man fields and are contested in a four-week window at this time of year when daylight hours are minimal. The next event to host 156 golfers is the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in late April, so the guys in the Web.com Tour reshuffle category, especially those in the bottom half, are pressed to perform if they want to play regularly on the PGA TOUR in the next two-and-a-half months.

With a lot riding this week, what better site is there on which to succeed than at iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links. At just 6,816 yards, the par 72 is the shortest course on the schedule. The second-shortest is Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course [MPCC], which tips at 6,867 and also co-hosts this week. MPCC is a par 71 with three par 5s on the inward half. Its respective nines are 34 and 37.

Spyglass Hill is the third venue. The 6,953-yard par 72 is also the hardest, at least in the long-term. Comparing the first three rounds of this tournament since 2010 when this three-course rota debuted, Spyglass Hill ranked hardest in relation to par in 10 of the 15 rounds played. (Conversely, MPCC ranked easiest eight times, including twice last year. From 2010-2013, MPCC played as a par 70 and was still the easiest overall.) Spyglass Hill averaged +0.755 strokes to par last year, but Pebble Beach checked in at 1.385 strokes over par thanks in part to a blustery third round when it averaged more than three strokes above par. That average also includes the final round (+0.857) that Pebble Beach hosts singularly.

All 156 golfers will play one round on each course before the 54-hole cut falls. Then, the low 60 and ties will tee it up in the finale. Those sitting 61st-70th (plus ties) after three rounds will not compete, but they will be rewarded with FedExCup points and official earnings. The exception is that all pro-am teams inside the top 25 after 54 holes will play on, including any pros that missed the cut.

It's hard to imagine a nicer weather forecast for the entirety of the tournament. Sunshine with high temperatures near 70 degrees will be accompanied by light winds at worst. Any cooling come Sunday may not even be noticeable.
  1. Jimmy Walker - The defending champ sat first in FedExCup points prior to last year's edition. He's No. 1 now. Shared seventh place at the Farmers.
  2. Jason Day - Was just a matter of time before he won again. Should threaten to go back-to-back now. He's 5-for-5 at the AT&T with a pair of solo sixths.
  3. Patrick Reed - Took last week off following a T40 at the WM Phoenix Open. Won a month ago at Kapalua. T7 in debut here in 2013; tied for 13th last year.
  4. Brandt Snedeker - The 2013 champ was still grinding back from a knee injury and missed last year's cut. Followed a T10 at the WMPO with a T19 at the Farmers.
  5. Jordan Spieth - Surprisingly missed the cut at Torrey Pines, but tied for seventh at the WMPO. Concluded 2014 with two wins. T4 at Pebble Beach last year.
  6. Hunter Mahan - His second child was born last week, so he's a green light to resume competition. No worse than T16 (2013) in last four editions of the AT&T.
  7. Kevin Na - Uninspiring recent form is irrelevant for this horse. Finished inside the top five in two of the last three editions; also T22 in 2013.
  8. Nick Watney - Northern California native hung on for a T7 at Torrey Pines despite scoring 1-over on the weekend. Solo 14th at Humana. Two top 10s at AT&T.
  9. Jason Kokrak - Coming this close to putting four rounds together. Ranks T8 on TOUR in red numbers (20). T9 here in 2012; T19 last year.
  10. Dustin Johnson - With two rounds under his belt post-return, his record at Pebble Beach demands his inclusion. Two wins, a T2 & second in all-time earnings.
  11. Spencer Levin - Fresh off a T11 at the Farmers, the 30-year-old has enjoyed success at Pebble Beach, too. In five starts, he's logged two top 10s and a T14.
  12. Ian Poulter - Shot Sunday 74 at Torrey Pines to settle for a T19, but it's his fourth straight top 25 worldwide. Solo second in Turkey and T6 in China.
  13. Ryan Palmer -  No top 20s in nine appearances, but he's strung together nine top 25s upon arrival. Includes a T2 at the WM Phoenix Open two weeks ago.
  14. Bryce Molder - Horse for a course. In addition to three top 10s and a T12 in last five editions, tied for fourth in 2014 TaylorMade Pebble Beach Invite.
  15. Shane Lowry - The Irishman is making his tournament debut. Tied for seventh in first appearance at Farmers. Twelve top 25s in last 16 starts worldwide.

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This article was written by Rob Bolton, originally posted on PGATOUR.com.  (Connect with Rob on Twitter @RobBoltonGolf)