The PGA Tour convenes at one of its most famous and popular locations this week, Pebble Beach Golf Links, for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The crowd will likely not be as raucous as it was at TPC Scottsdale last week, but it will be subject to an impressive field, myriad celebrities, and some of the best scenery in the golf world.
Here are the rankings for what promises to be a great week:
T10. MATT KUCHAR
Kuchar’s 2018 debut last week was a successful one, as a T5 finish included a third round 64, and a nearly ace on the Stadium Hole on Sunday. Leading the field in strokes gained: putting was a good sign that he may be on the brink of a career season.
Kuch has only played Pebble Beach once since 2010, missing the cut in last year’s edition, but played so well from May-on last year, he should still be considered a threat to take his first tournament title since the 2014 RBC Heritage.
World Rank: 18th
Field Rank: 7th
2017 (Pebble Beach Pro-Am) Finish: MC
Last Seven Starts: 5, 32, 9, 29, 31, 31, 10
T10. PAUL CASEY
Casey will be making both his 2018 PGA Tour debut and his first start in this tournament since missing the cut all the way back in 2002. With all his high finishes over the past two seasons, it seems crazy that he has not actually won since 2010.
His problems closing tournaments have been a real concern, but probability tells us that if Casey keeps staying close to the lead, eventually there will be a tournament where the rest of the contenders botch Sunday worse than he does. Maybe that will be this week.
World Rank: 17th
Field Rank: 6th
2017 Finish: DNP
Last Seven Starts: 9, 11, 19, 7, 5, 33, 4
9. GARY WOODLAND
The winner of last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, his first victory in five years, Woodland impressively carded nine birdies in the final round.
That was a surprise to most, but maybe not so much for those who saw him tally 10 birdies in the final round of last year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which allowed the bomber to finish T5.
It may be too much to expect Woodland to contend again coming off an emotionally-draining victory, but there is no questioning his ability to go low at any time.
World Rank: 26th
Field Rank: 12th
2017 Finish: T5
Last Seven Starts: 1, 12, 7, 34, 18, 40, 28
8. BRYSON DECHAMBEAU
Another young star in good form, DeChambeau’s rough start on Sunday (+3 through 4 holes) ended his hopes at TPC Scottsdale, but he showed tremendous resiliency by carding birdies on five of his last seven holes to finish T5.
Over his first three rounds in Phoenix, DeChambeau had 15 birdies to just two bogeys, and was phenomenal off the tees. He missed the cut in his Pebble Beach debut last year, but now brimming with confidence, it is difficult to see that happening again this week.
World Rank: 85th
Field Rank: 31st
2017 Finish: MC
Last Seven Starts: 5, MC, MC, 26, 14, 7, 17
7. PAT PEREZ
Given how fantastic Perez has played since September, and his rapidly increasing popularity, we found it a little surprising that the Phoenix native opted to pass on the Waste Management Phoenix Open last week, but it made some sense to get rest after having played in Dubai and Singapore the previous two weeks.
The enigmatic 41-year-old has shown a recent affinity for Pebble Beach, finishing T14 last year, T4 in 2015, and T7 in 2014. Coming in rested and confident, Perez could be looking at his best finish yet in this event.
World Rank: 19th
Field Rank: 8th
2017 Finish: MC
Last Seven Starts: 5, MC, MC, 26, 14, 7, 17
6. JORDAN SPIETH
The defending champion put together a dominating performance last year, taking a six-stroke lead into Sunday and not letting up, but after three consecutive underwhelming performances, it might be officially time to worry about Spieth, who uncharacteristically has the putting yips in 2018.
Missing the cut in Phoenix gave him some extra time on the practice greens, and hopefully that went a long way toward getting him facing back in the direction of his world-class putting form.
Tee-to-green, he has still been excellent, but if he wants to go back-to-back, his head will need to be together much more than it was at TPC Scottsdale.
World Rank: 3rd
Field Rank: 3rd
2017 Finish: 1st
Last Seven Starts: MC, 18, 9, 3, 8, 7, 7
5. PHIL MICKELSON
After back-to-back dismal performances to start his 2018 season (CUT, T45), Mickelson showed significant signs of life in a T5 performance in Phoenix last weekend, which probably would have been a T3 had he not been forced to aggressively go for the eagle-2 on the par-4 18th hole (he found the deep rough in the bunker and double-bogeyed).
A four-time winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Mickelson last won this event in 2012, but finished runner-up here to Vaughn Taylor just two years ago. He is still not hitting fairways, but led the field at TPC Scottsdale in bogeys and scrambling, and was third in strokes gained: putting.
World Rank: 41st
Field Rank: 17th
2017 Finish: 65th
Last Seven Starts: 5, 45, MC, 15, 3, 20, 6
4. JASON DAY
Is J-Day back? He finally ended a year-plus long winless drought when he ousted Alex Noren in a playoff that stretched into Monday at the Farmers Insurance Open.
Winning at a course as difficult as Torrey Pines is certainly encouraging, but what is less encouraging is how close his back came to preventing him from playing in the tournament at all.
This week, he comes back to a tournament where he finished T5 a year ago and shot a tournament-low 64 in round 2. Day also finished T4 in 2015, leading us to like his chances again, assuming his back holds.
World Rank: 10th
Field Rank: 5th
2017 Finish: 5th
Last Seven Starts: 1, 5, 11, 11, 17, 4, 25
3. RORY MCILROY
Coming off a forgettable 2017 season, Rory is making his 2018 PGA debut at a tournament he has never played before, which might be kind of risky, but if that nagging rib injury that torpedoed his last season really is as healed as he says, there is no question that he has the ability to win this tournament.
Very encouraging is the fact that in his two 2018 European Tour starts, he has a T3 and a runner-up, both coming in tournaments with strong fields.
2. JON RAHM
Should we be concerned with Rahm’s back-to-back Sunday meltdowns? Probably not, as the greater sample size shows that the World No. 2 can win anytime, anywhere and that he can come through in the clutch.
Rahm might be alienating some fans with his passionate outbursts on the course, but what cannot be argued is that he is in title contention nearly every week. He has played Pebble Beach just once, finishing T5 last year, bouncing back from a poor first round 73 to shoot three rounds of 68 or better.
World Rank: 2nd
Field Rank: 2nd
2017 Finish: 5th
Last Seven Starts: 11, 29, 1, 2, 1, 36, MC
1. DUSTIN JOHNSON
In his last PGA Tour appearance, DJ dismantled the field one month ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, winning by an eye-popping eight strokes.
In his only other start since, at the European Tour’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, he did not fare quite as well with a T9, but that did include a second-round 64, which tied the low round of the tournament.
Coupled with his sizzling current form, DJ also has great history at Pebble Beach, winning in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010, along with three recent top 5s (2nd 2014, T4 2015, 3rd 2017).
World Rank: 1st
Field Rank: 1st
2017 Finish: 3rd
Last Seven Starts: 9, 1, 14, 2, 17, 33, 18
Next Five: Patrick Cantlay, James Hahn, Chez Reavie, Adam Scott, Chesson Hadley
Credits: OWGR, Getty Images