The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
Pebble Beach will play host to two events on the PGA Tour this season starting here with the AT&T Pro Am and then the US Open in June – forming as it will the third of the year’s majors with the move of the USPGA to May.
Pebble Beach it may be but in fact, like Torrey Pines,this event is played over multiple courses – three in this case: Pebble, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula. Throw in the amateurs and it’s easy to see that the format doesn’t suit all. You have to enjoy the celebrity element and all that goes with it otherwise you’ll melt.
Because of this curious mix, beyond their obvious talent, some players perform consistently well here. Dustin, Jase and Milky come to mind with a modest two wins but a ton of top 10’s between them.
Given this odd mixture of multiple venues and celebs some players would never dream of turning up – but this year it’s different. Pebble will be a very different beast come June, and more so given the saturated state it’s in now, so any experience gained will be more about getting to know the venue – assuming said players haven’t played here before. What it will be is different to a normal AT&T Pro Am with the rough allowed to grow more than usual in preparation for the main event. This means narrower fairways and while this plays to accuracy off the tee it doesn’t rule out the power players especially with the predicted damp conditions.
On this basis we will eschew the usual route to finding a winner and restrict ourselves to those with potential at a price – as opposed to deep experience – so everyone on last weeks team gets a run out again.
Sung-Jae Im 1pt win at $60 BF
Cameron Champ 1pt win at $80 BF
Keith Mitchell 1pt win at $220 BF
Sung-Jae Im (last week and previously) from last year is a serious talent coming off a great year on the Web.com tour. A Web.com tour that seems to have thrown up some really solid main tour prospects – the aforementioned Champ amongst them. There appear to be no real weak parts to his game. Longish, he is also straight and hits greens with his short-term 2019 PGA Tour season stats mirroring his deeper Web.com stats. Mid – high 60’s for fairways and low 70’s for greens. A really solid 15th at the Shriners with 21 birdies where he started off slowly but then posted two career equalling low rounds of 65 over the final three days, he can clearly putt to go with his impressive tee to green game. He’s already posted a 4th placed finish the Safeway and is the 94th ranked player in the world – that is temporary. Now is the time to get on this winner in waiting. Im started the Myakoba with a 5 under 66 and promptly missed the cut. Since then he is 39 under for his last 12 rounds for and ever improving 37th, 16th and 12th. I’m is not a bomber despite averaging over 300 off the tee so he won’t overpower the course. He’s just an emerging talent in impressive, progressive form and he’s going to win one day. Let it be now! Im hardly disgraced himself first time out at Torrey Pines. Nothing for me has changed in that he’s an immense talent who will win. Im did the best of our winner takes all approach last week with a sterling seventh place. No experience here and difficult to gauge how he’ll cope with the celebrity side but a fine player in form.
Cameron Champ(previously…we like this guy) has the best name ever for a winner (short of winner) and is just awesome. 320 off the tee and 62% of fairways and 76% of greens looks on paper to be the perfect profile for a modern Tour player. If anyone can overpower a course it’s him. His club head speed is off the scale and yet he’s won and done so hitting so many greens. In 14 events he has won, had 3 top 10’s and shot a 62. The only weakness would appear to be his chipping. Ranked 4th in stokes gained off the tee and 23rd in strokes gained overall Torrey pines looks ideal for him to melt it off the tee and munch it out of the rough. Even with all his power and impressive tee to green game he’s 25th in strokes gained putting. Missing the third round cut at the Sony could well be a blessing and with 10 days off he’ll have had time to recharge the batteries. The 40/1 may look the best bet of the season! Like Im Champ had an awkward start to his South Course debut at Torrey Pines and missed the cut. And like Im his credentials look impeccable to me once again. As Einstein said “the definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different outcome”. Albert never did like the punt and nor could he have envisioned Champ. I’d be a little concerned Champ is maybe a little over golfed but he is young and is learning the tours’ courses which may well / probably be his undoing again – but he’s such a talent and such a price nothing would surprise. Whatever his motives gaining experience around Pebble Beach will be high on his list.
Keith Mitchell (last week) may have seasoned golf fans scratching their heads and there is a reason he is 200’s. In the spirit of occasion Mitchell makes something of a case for inclusion – at the price. Mitchell currently ranks 4th in the all-important strokes gained tee to green category. Coming off his best ever year in 2018 with a 2nd, 3rd and a 6th Mitchell has taken that form to an extent into 2019. He’s yet to post better than a 14th but also has a 16th and 22nd. Hardly setting the world on fire it has to be remembered this will be only his 37th tour start. Aside from the aforementioned 4th in the strokes gained tee to green category he boasts 11th in strokes gained off the tee and 5th in stokes gained around the green. There is no denying that putting is not his strength so he will need that week on the greens. Mitchell started poorly last week and never fully recovered. He deserves another run at the price to play a series of venues that should suit his solid tee to green game.