After a thrilling conclusion in Phoenix last week, the PGA Tour will be hosting a less raucous crowd this week, but do not expect the players to be any less amped up; it is Pebble Beach after all, one of the most popular golf venues in the United States.
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has been contested since 1937, and boasts, not just an elite group of golfers, but a plethora of celebrities, who will be playing alongside the golfers.
Not only do big names and breathtaking views make this one of the most anticipated events of the year, but the action has the potential to be even better than usual, as Pebble Beach will also be hosting the U.S. Open in June.
Among those most likely to leave Pebble with a coveted trophy are the following:
15. Patrick Reed
It is difficult to gauge just where the game of the reigning Masters champ Reed is at the moment. He is coming off back-to-back T13s on the PGA Tour, but it seems almost impossible that he has not scored a top-10 in the U.S. since last year’s U.S. Open.
It does not really help his chances at Pebble that he spent last week in Saudi Arabia, struggling to a 56th place finish in a Euro Tour event.
Still, he is easily among the most talented half-dozen or so players here, and his short game is way too good to count him out, even in an event where he missed the cut last year.
World Rank: 15th
Field Rank: 5th
Last Six: 56, 13, 13, 25, 11, 45
14. Jordan Spieth
It is no secret that Spieth is slumping badly; after a T35 in his most recent start, one where he had opened with a 65, the three-time major champion fell outside the world’s top 20 for the first time in five years.
It is accepted, however, that his slump is absolutely temporary, and Pebble Beach could be the place where he busts out, given a tremendous past that includes a four-shot victory in the 2017 edition. Nobody in this field needs the positive momentum more than Spieth.
World Rank: 21st
Field Rank: 8th
Last Six: 35, MC, MC, 55, 55, 12
13. Ted Potter Jr
What about the defending champ? He contends so rarely that it can be tough to take him seriously, but what he did here 12 months ago was stunningly impressive. It was not a case of everyone around him collapsing; Potter Jr stared down and outdueled world No. 1 Dustin Johnson on Sunday, while other big names like Phil Mickelson and Jason Day were closely lurking.
Potter showed such poise and composure, it seems impossible to believe he would not be feeling supremely confident when he steps on this course again. The only other time he played an event as the defending champion, he finished solo-sixth at The Greenbrier in 2013.
World Rank: 105th
Field Rank: 34th
Last Six: MC, 13, 27, 46, 14, 54
12. Sungjae Im
The 20-year-old from South Korea was the best player on the Web.com Tour last year, and seems very close to nabbing his first trophy in the big leagues.
Im has been exceptional since the calendar turned to 2019, finishing double-digits under par in three of four events, including an 11-under effort last week in Phoenix, which was good for a share of 7th place.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of that most recent start was consistency; Im played all four rounds under 70, off the strength of a phenomenal tee-to-green effort where he carded just four bogeys for the week.
World Rank: 82nd
Field Rank: 27th
Last Six: 7, 52, 12, 16, 15, 37
11. Brandt Snedeker
For the second time in three events, the PGA Tour heads to a location where Snedeker is one of the biggest horses for the course. Sneds was the 2013 and 2015 champion here, setting the event record score in the latter at 22-under par. He also took fourth in 2017, and was T20 last year, which was an excellent result given that he was mired in a post-injury slump at the time.
It was concerning, however, that the 38-year-old could not manage better than a T62 two weeks ago at Torrey Pines, another course where he has an incredible history.
At Torrey, he was second in the field in strokes gained: around-the-green, but his irons were an absolute disaster, something he will need to quickly improve if he is going to contend for a third Pebble Beach title, which would tie him on the all-time event list with Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller.
World Rank: 54th
Field Rank: 19th
Last Six: 55, 62, 16, 22, 34, 30
10. Patrick Cantlay
A string of three straight top-10 finishes came to an end two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open, where Cantlay missed just his third cut in the past three years.
He has little history at Pebble Beach, but his tee-to-green game is way too good to not thinking that he will eclipse his T35 effort from a year ago. He has not been hitting many fairways, but surprisingly, that really is not a huge deal in this event.
World Rank: 18th
Field Rank: 6th
Last Six: MC, 9, 5, 2, 7, 17
9. Tony Finau
Finau was a surprising missed cut at last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, the first time he had not played the weekend in his past 14 starts. He is unlikely to stay down long, however, and should be a safe bet, even in an event he has played just once (T23, 2017).
He has not quite been in peak form since taking runner-up in October’s WGC-HSBC Champions, but he has been too good as of late to expect anything resembling an extended slump. His 11 top 10s last year was second best on Tour, and even with a so-so start to the current season, Finau has the fifth best scoring average on Tour.
World Rank: 11th
Field Rank: 2nd
Last Six: MC, 13, 2, 16, 36, 2
8. Branden Grace
The 30-year-old South African was nearly the chief beneficiary of Rickie Fowler’s mid-round Sunday collapse at last week’s Phoenix Open, exploding into the lead from five-strokes back, but he was unable to keep his foot on the gas over the last five holes and had to settle for a solo-runner-up, his best Tour finish in nearly three years.
He flashed an impressive all-around game at TPC Scottsdale, so we are inclined to believe that last week was not a fluke. Last year was the major championship record-holder’s first try at Pebble, and he performed respectively, shooting an opening and closing 68 to post a T20.
World Rank: 40th
Field Rank: 13th
Last Six: 2, MC, 27, 34, 7, 34
7. Adam Scott
The recent form is definitely there for Scott; the last time we saw him, he was carding birdies on the final four holes at Torrey Pines to finish second to world No. 1 Justin Rose two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open, his fourth top-10 finish in his last eight starts.
That form is probably good enough, especially when it comes to his irons, where it can be dismissed that Scott has done so little at Pebble Beach. A year ago, he made his first appearance in this event since 2010, opening with a 77 and missing the cut.
World Rank: 31st
Field Rank: 11th
Last Six: 2, MC, 18, 10, 50, 51
6. Matt Kuchar
After back-to-back 65s in the middle rounds of last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Kuchar was sitting in the runner-up seat, with a possibility of notching a third victory in four starts if 54-hole leader Rickie Fowler was to stumble on Sunday.
Stumble on Sunday is exactly what Fowler did, but Kuchar was even worse as a 75 dropped him into a share of fourth. Kuchar is mature and experienced enough to not let his season go off the rails after one difficult round in difficult conditions, but it is probably worth noting that Kuchar has practically no positive history in this event.
Still, we think he is more likely to play well this week than not; something is just different with him this season.
World Rank: 20th
Field Rank: 7th
Last Six: 4, 1, 19, 23, 1, 57
5. Chez Reavie
For the second-consecutive year, the accurate 37-year-old is getting hot in the Western swing of the schedule. Last year, he transmuted a runner-up at the Waste Management Phoenix Open into a T2 at Pebble Beach. This year, he posted another great finish in Phoenix, leading the field on the weekend with a 64-68 for a T4 overall.
Can he do it again, or possibly even better himself at Pebble?
He is hitting fairways as well as anyone on Tour, and he was bogey-free this past weekend. Maybe this will finally be that first victory since the 2008 RBC Canadian Open.
World Rank: 49th
Field Rank: 18th
Last Six: 4, 1, 19, 23, 1, 57
4. Tommy Fleetwood
Among those making their Pebble Beach debuts this year, the biggest name is easily Fleetwood, who is hoping to gain an advantage before this course hosts the U.S. Open in four months, an event where Fleetwood has finished runner-up and T4 the past two years, respectively.
He might not have a lot of fans in the American crowd, seeing as he scored four points against the U.S. in a European rout at the Ryder Cup, but Fleetwood is not likely to let that bother him.
He is coming off a PGA Tour season where he finished 6th in scoring average, 5th in birdie average, and 4th in strokes gained: total.
World Rank: 14th
Field Rank: 4th
Last Six: 16, 42, 14, 16, 7, 7
3. Phil Mickelson
After a T2 at the Desert Classic which included an opening-round 60, it was shocking to see Lefty miss the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, where he was playing for the 29th consecutive year.
As uncharacteristic of a result as that was, we cannot get too down on his chances at Pebble, where he is a FOUR-time champion and has taken a runner-up slot in two of the past three editions, including last year. He currently ranks 3rd on Tour in birdie average, making it difficult to believe that this year’s trip to Pebble will be much different than usual.
World Rank: 29th
Field Rank: 10th
Last Six: MC, 2, 17, 30, 58, 12
2. Jason Day
The former World No. 1 seems to have done everything at Pebble except for win, with his closest call coming last year as he was one of the four runner-ups to the surprising Ted Potter Jr., and his worst outing was a T11 in 2016.
Something about this event suits the Aussie well, and he is coming into this year’s edition in good form, having finished T5 two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open.
We are still waiting for his irons to make their comeback on a consistent basis, but we seem to be inching closer and closer to Day rediscovering his full 2016-2017 form.
World Rank: 12th
Field Rank: 3rd
Last Six: 5, 13, 16, 11, 5, 18
1. Dustin Johnson
Not that there seem to be a course on Tour, or anywhere, that does not fit Dustin Johnson’s stellar all-around game, but Pebble Beach seems to match him especially well, as the 2009 and 2010 event champion also took runner-up in 2014 and 2018, while notching top-5s in 2012 (T5), 2015 (T4), and 2017 (3).
If there is any reason to doubt that this year will be par for the course, it could be worth noting that DJ, who also happens to be the highest-ranked player in the field, is arriving in Southern California after spending the past week in Saudi Arabia, which is about as far away from Pebble as someone can get while remaining on Earth, which can be heck on body even on a luxury flight.
It should also be noted that he won that event he was in the Middle East for, riding a second-round 61 to a two-stroke triumph over budding star Haotong Li.
World Rank: 3rd
Field Rank: 1st
Last Six: 1, 16, 4, 7, 30, 3
Next Five: Rafa Cabrera Bello, Paul Casey, Cameron Champ, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Shane Lowry