Monterey on Display


Understanding AT&T

Congratulations to Max Homa for his sixth career win and fourth in his home state of California. Something to consider when the PGA Tour returns to Riviera or major season as the US Open will be played at LACC's North Course in June... Based upon his Pacific prowess, I checked the US Open futures. In the time it took Max Homa to complete his back nine at Torrey, his odds to win the national championship dropped from +5000 to +3300.

The odds makers are always watching!

One & Done Winner! ๐Ÿ’ฐ

Well so are we, and that's why I selected Max as our One & Done pick of the week. Let's just say we "maxed" out our earnings with $1.566 million for first place. It's not quite as sexy as an outright, but when you consider you get one pick and only one week to use it, the alignment is a great sign. That's just shy of $2 million in earnings for January, a fantastic start to this year's O&D campaign.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am marks the end of the multiple course madness on tour. Once again this week we have three courses to contend with and the same format as The American Express. 156 players will compete with a Pro-Am partner. All will play three different courses for the first 54-holes. The Top 60 and ties make it to Sunday and they play Pebble's blessed links one more time.

  • The purse is $9 million with a $1.62million dollar first place check.
  • Five of the Top 30 players in the world ranking are competing and nineteen of the Top 100.

In going through the historic data from the last ten years, there's a really interesting trend. Pebble has a virtual seesaw for a champions plaque. In 2017, it was Jordan Spieth followed next year by Ted Potter Jr. Hell, I don't even know who Ted Potter Sr. was? This is the point, the average winner's odds in the even years is +21100 (211-1). In the odd years, that average drops to +1800 (18-1). The pattern is crazy. Please keep in mind, it is an odd year!

Our average winning score has been very consistent over the last decade. Outside of 2014, the winner's total has been in the high teens. In fact, five times it was 19 under par in that stretch. This tournament requires making plenty of birdies. These are three of the shortest courses on the PGA Tour. Even though the cooler marine climate will reduce ball flight, the best guy with a wedge will win. Here's a quick summary of the three layouts.

  • Pebble Beach Golf Links (one round + final round)
    • Par 72 and 6,972 yards
    • There are 116 bunkers, Poa annua greens, and seven Par 4's under 430 yards.
    • The greens are tiny with an average size in the 3,500 square foot range.
  • Spyglass Hill Golf Course (one round)
    • Par 72, and 7,041 yards
    • Sixty-two bunkers are scattered around, Poa annua greens, and another seven Par 4's under 430 yards.
    • This course tends to be the toughest for scoring. Parts are extremely exposed to the elements. Catch this tee time on the wrong day and the week is over.
  • Monterey Peninsula Country Club (one round)
    • It's a 36-hole facility and for the AT&T they use the Shore Course.
    • Par 71 and 6,934 yards
    • Just 130 bunkers, Poa annua greens, and again seven Par 4's under 430 yards.

Any amateur golfer would consider this trifecta a total bucket list experience. These men are about to enlist in an absolute proximity contest. We'll discuss it more in the outrights section, but just in those brief breakdowns you can see some significant trends. One trend that has haunted the Pacific coast this January has been epic amounts of rain. I didn't see Noah on the Pro-Am list because he was out pairing animals.

The Monterey region has received twenty inches of rain year to date. The courses will be soft and very score-able. Especially since the predicted weather seems mild by Monterey standards. By mild, I mean little wind and some rain. Breezes are scheduled to blow in the 12-15mph range for the week. Thursday night into Friday there's a 50% chance of rain and another 70% chance on Saturday into Sunday. Of course, a coastal forecast can change in a minute, but overall not bad. Temperatures are seasonable and will hover around the high 50's - low 60's during play. When it comes to ball flight that's pretty cold and damp.

The uniqueness of this event also plays out in the tournament experience. Every AT&T champion since 2006 has finished in the Top 21 prior to their winning year. Can a debutant win? I believe they can, but these types of trends are key to building a successful card. This week is a challenge physically and mentally. Six hour rounds with Bill Murray will test the best. That's why my outrights section has a very unique take of the AT&T.

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The AT&T starts in...

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On the ledge... with a wedge!

There's three things I'm focused on for this week's winner.

  1. Controlling the control-ables.
  2. Proximity with a wedge.
  3. Putting with confidence on Poa.

The first comes down to format. The AT&T is just like the AMEX in many ways. Long rounds, plenty of distractions, Par 4 scoring, and opportunistic putting. Most weeks I believe comparison courses are helpful in determining contenders. This week, courses might fall second to format. The Pro-Am play is not for everyone. Long tedious rounds, managing a partner, three different courses to prepare for... the list is long. Players who can control their world and contend amidst the maelstrom of madness get my attention this week.

In 2022, Tom Hoge finished runner-up at the AMEX. Two weeks later he won the AT&T. 2019, Phil finished second in the desert and parlayed that into another AT&T win. The leaderboards are continually littered with the same names. When it comes to a strategy for this week I'm definitely going with players who truly like being there.

Pebble is a proximity contest. In my mind, it is just an exaggerated Par 3 for eighteen holes. Due to the design of the different courses, players are consistently forced to lay up off the tee. Strategic doglegs, bunkers and penalty areas create specific landing areas. From those locations, players are now playing a "Par 3" from the fairway. For more than 50% of those approach shots they will have a wedge or scoring iron in hand.

Some players are very good long iron players. Viktor Hovland and Will Zalatoris come to mind. Others are great with a wedge like Tom Hoge, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth and Joel Dahmen. With so many specific wedge shots over 72 holes, these players have a considerable edge. Twenty-one of the Par 4's (68%) play under 430 yards. Throw in three more wedge length Par 3's and eleven Par 5's, and now we have a scoring club in our hand 65% of the tournament. It is not often we can pick one style of approach play to focus on. Let's take advantage this week.

Watching Torrey Pines last weekend one can see the frustration some players have putting on Poa. It becomes bumpy as traffic walks on it and the day turns longer. Positive experiences putting on this surface are important. With a wedge in hand, players will have many birdie opportunities inside ten feet. Pebble has some of the smallest greens on tour. When players miss, getting up and down requires making those same length putts to maintain momentum. Therefore, past success on Poa is a big deal at the AT&T.

The player who will contend this weekend will have the right perspective for Pebble. History tells us he will gain about four strokes against the field on approach and another two and half on the greens. They will possess a solid BoB% especially on medium length Par 4's. Finally, they will be able to withstand the elements. I said earlier the weather looked reasonable for the tournament. Problem is this tournament never has great weather. So I meant it looked reasonable for "this" tournament. Coastal players with an incredible wedge game will contend and here are the four best.

Outright winners - AT&T Pebble Beach

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