Today's Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, February 6 at 4:30 PM EST.
Cutoff time for this event is February 7 at 11:00 AM EST.
AT&T Pebble Beach Course Preview:
The Pebble Beach Links will host this year’s US Open, as it did back in 2010, and that gives a flavor of its complexity. Of course, the layout won’t bare its teeth here in this fun pro-am event, but you will see some of the factors of why it is so beloved for its challenge. These are the smallest greens on the PGA TOUR, and with nine holes running along the California coastline, there is a distinct possibility that the wind will become a significant factor.
As ever, the action will unfold over three courses. The iconic Pebble Beach is our host, and they will take the honors for one of the opening trio of rounds on the rotation, as well as being the scene for the coronation of the champion on Sunday. Spyglass Hill and Monterey Shore make up the trio. They all share some things in common. The coastal, Californian location ensures that the weather can play a factor with the wind in particular an occasional nuisance, and all three tracks are said to be Links-style in nature. All feature Poa Annua greens, too.
Pebble Beach has hosted five editions of the US Open plus a PGA Championship, and that should give some indication of its complexity. Measuring 6,816 yards for its Par 72, this is one of the shortest layouts on the PGA TOUR with fairly wide fairways but it plays difficult because of the tiny Poa Annua greens, which really do take some hitting. Factor in the wind and you have a recipe for a tough old test: Graeme McDowell won the 2010 US Open here in level par, while Tiger Woods’ absurd winning mark of -12 in 2000 is made all the more remarkable by noting that Ernie Els and Miguel Angel Jimenez, in T2, finished at +3.
The players will be looking to make hay at the other two courses then, with Monterey typically playing the easiest of the bunch. At 6,958 yards for its Par 71 no player is discounted in terms of length, and the greens are twice the size of those at Pebble Beach. Despite its Par 71 billing, Monterey features four Par 5s with a trio of those coming on the back nine.
Spyglass can play pretty tough on any given day, but because it is largely tree-lined, it boasts a huge advantage: the course is less exposed to the elements than the other two. The Par 72, 6,858 yard layout is a stern test of ball-striking, thus, it can actually serve up a draw bias to those who play here on the windiest of days.
Spyglass Hill has been called the ‘best course never to have hosted a major’, and it was here that Bing Crosby famously bet Jack Nicklaus that he couldn’t break par during his National Pro-Am event. The Golden Bear fired a round of 70 (-2) to win the tournament and nab a crisp $5 note from the White Christmas crooner.
What we’re looking for this week:
Unfortunately, this is one of those weeks where success will be more luck-driven than usual. There will be a draw bias that is guaranteed given the rather hair-raising weather forecast, and so you need to be on the right side of it to take full advantage. Sadly, such bases only reveal themselves at the very last minute – hence why so many contests descend into farce in these split course events. No matter, we will simply have to make the best of what we’ve got.
So what do we know? Certainly, that what you do off the tee is almost irrelevant. Ted Potter Jr (last year’s winner) practically kept his driver sheathed all week, averaging 282 yards off the peg and finding 76% of fairways, but you can also spray it around a bit off the tee here….Jordan Spieth is a former winner, after all. With 36 holes being played at Pebble Beach, finding fairways should be an advantage and so is hitting approaches into these small Poa Annua greens. Naturally, strength in the wind is key, but this isn’t a Links style free-for-all. DJ, for one, has never particularly enjoyed traditional links and yet he thrives here. The conclusion we can make is that the cream will rise to the top at Pebble Beach – this usually isn’t a birdie-fest event where any old Tom, Dick or Harry can get hot with the putter and win. As for other correlations to consider, clearly good putting on Poa Annua (typically found on Californian courses) is key, as is a penchant for playing well in windy, coastal locations (think RSM Classic, RBC Heritage etc).
We’re also willing to suggest that decent finishes in Pro-Am events are well worth looking up. This is a unique format of golf that perhaps takes an outgoing personality type to thrive in, especially if paired with an amateur who is shanking their ball to all parts. This is a star-studded field with 19 pros listed at 50-1 or less with DJ and Jason Day leading the way at 5-1 and 8-1 respectively. If you bet either to win outright, you would be extremely foolish because the odds are pitiful. No pro should be less than 20-1 in this day and age. That said, this event often produces the cream rising to the top but we’ll see if we can find somebody worthwhile to get behind and hope for the best.
Unless otherwise stated, the following bets to win outright will be placed at BET365 because of their cash-out option during the event:
To Win outright:
Beau Hossler 100-1
The Californian shared the lead here at the halfway stage 12 months ago, and that came in among some fine form on home soil. The year before? Here’s a remarkable statistic: Beau Hossler ranked 18th for Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green at Pebble Beach in 2017 and somehow still managed to miss the cut. The answer, as is usually the case, was that he had a bit of a nightmare week with the putter: -1.38 strokes ‘gained’, to be precise. The good news is that he’s actually had back-to-back tremendous years at Pebble Beach but in 2017, all it reads is MC. Perhaps a return to the West Coast will serve him well this week too, and his relatively straight hitting game could produce birdie opportunities at the two easier courses and hopefully keep him out of trouble at Pebble Beach. His form has come and gone of late, but a 66 on Saturday at the Phoenix Open – not many bettered that on the day – does bode well as does a rank of first for Putting Average at the CareerBuilder Challenge last year so there aren’t any Poa Annua demons here. His neat chipping-and-putting game should be well suited to these Pebble Beach resort tests. (Risking 0.2 units to win 20 units).
Adam Hadwin 50-1
On the cusp of big things in 2019, perhaps, is Adam Hadwin, a gifted Canadian who arguably hasn’t achieved his potential as yet on the PGA TOUR. He’s brilliantly consistent (22 cuts made in 25 starts last season) without taking his game to the level (three top-10s), and so the 31-year-old has to find a spark from somewhere. Just lately there have been some interesting signs from him with a top-10 at the CJ Cup followed by T30 at the WGC-HSBC Champions, a T4 at the Melbourne World Cup of Golf and a T2 at the Desert Classic. That’s not bad among the world’s best with so many great rounds thrown in for good measure. Hadwin has only played this course once in his career, back in 2017 when he shot four under (-4) and finished T39. He missed this event in 2014, 2015, 2016, and last year (2018) also so it is interesting that he signed up this year. We like it when a pro in good form that carefully chooses his events is interested in one he hasn’t played a lot of as a pro. What we know for sure is that Hadwin has had great success in California so he’s no stranger to these parts or conditions. The fact that he chose this course strongly suggests that he’s had a few practice rounds over the years while in these parts and is very much up to this challenge (Risking 0.2 units to win 10 units).
Head-to-head Matchups for The WM Phoenix Open
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUPS below are for 72 holes:
Sungjae Im +100 over Brandt Snedeker (BET365)
Over at the world’s sharpest book, Pinnacle Sports has Adam Hadwin favored (-116) over Brandt Snedeker and that really caught our eye. After all, Sneds is a blue blood name in this sport and also has course history with a T20 last year, 4th in 2017, 35th in 2016 and a win at Pebble Beach in 2015 while Hadwin is a lesser-known Canadian that has virtually no history here. We could spot -116 with Hadwin and that would probably be a winning bet but if Pinnacle is going after Sneds with Hadwin, we’re more than thrilled to get Sungjae Im to beat Sneds over at BET364. Incidentally, Im is 45-1 to win outright while Hadwin is higher at 50-1 but we’re getting Im at a better price to beat Snedeker. Pinny doesn’t like Sneds despite his strong course history and that’s good enough for us. Of all the http://Web.com Tour graduates, Cameron Champ has taken the headlines with his pair of PGA TOUR wins. However, it might just be Sungjae Im who eventually becomes the best of the bunch. The 20-year-old already looks a sublime talent, and with four top-20 starts in his last five appearances – including T7 in Phoenix and he’s already showing a consistency far beyond his years. The boxes look to be ticked this week too, given that Im played his formative golf at the breezy coastal layout on Jeju Island in his homeland. Last year he won in the windy Bahamas too on the Web.com Tour, and followed up by winning the Portland Open on the West Coast. Sungjae Im is going to win an event this year (maybe more than 1) so keep a close eye on him but do get behind him in this H2H (Risking 2 units to win 2 units).
#7057 Ryan Armour -120 over Steve Stricker
While we understand that this wager is not widely available, we tracked it down at 5DIMES and if you can find it, bet it because Armour should be a 4-1 favorite over Stricker and not a 6/5 choice. What a steal this is. For one, Stricker is 51-years-old and should be on the Seniors tour. Secondly, he’s played just two events this year and has a MC at the WM Phoenix Open last week and and a T73 and the Hawaii Open where he failed to qualify to play in the final round.
Meanwhile, Ryan Armour’s 2018 campaign was a good one. He won his maiden PGA TOUR title at the Sanderson Farms Championship, and also posted a solo second at the Quicken Loans National. His consistency took him all the way through to the BMW Championship in the FedExCup race, and in his last seven starts he has made the cut five times and posted four top-30 finishes including T22 at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Another lacking in distance, you won’t find many more accurate off the tee than Armour, and that should help him get some good lies into these small greens. Armour ranks 5th ON TOUR in Driving Accuracy, 14th in Total Birdies and 60th in Greens in Regulation and if we lose this bet, so be it but in terms of value, there isn’t one better you will find anywhere (Risking 2.4 units to win 2).
FANTASY or DFS
There are dozens of DFS/Fantasy Golf sites that will try and aid you with picks but the problem is that every SINGLE one of them spurts out the same crap. They will all make between and 5 and 10 suggestions and none of them step out of line and pick someone above 80-1. It’s all usually the same 30 golfers week after week after week. Just like the NFL panels on TV, these idiots can’t wrap their heads around a guy like J.J. Spaun for instance (100-1 this week) to win an event. We try and go off the grid because that’s where the money is in DFS. No point of having the same five guys as everyone else and do you really need to read this if we were giving out Matsuyama, JT, Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Matt Kuchar, Webb Simpson, Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele or the other top 15 guys? Of course they can win and of course they will likely make the cut but we’re giving you guys with low ownership % that you can add as your fourth and fifth guys.
In this section, we’ll continue to provide you with pros that nobody else will but we will include one popular choice or our HORSE FOR THE COURSE:
Horse for the Course:
DFS gamers will be loading up on DJ, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth (who we wouldn’t go near right now) among a few others but one guy that is on great form and won’t be everyone’s “horse” is Branden Grace. The South African produced a fine showing at the Phoenix Open, and bit for a bogey at the 17th on Sunday, which took some of the pressure off Fowler’s shoulders, he may well have just collected his second PGA TOUR title. His first came at the RBC Heritage in 2016, played at those Harbour Town Links, and a confirmed Links lover should enjoy his trip to Monterey Peninsula this week with some form in the tank. Sometimes, good performances are hung on a framework of good putting, which is hard to follow up on a weekly basis. When the flat stick cools, the form tends to evaporate too but Grace’s efforts in Phoenix came courtesy of a fine week from tee-to-green, which is a completely repeatable skill set that bodes well on the West Coast. Grace is dealing it right now, as he ranks 13th ON TOUR in SG: Tee-to-Green, 14th ON TOUR in Greens in Regulation and 16th in SG: Around-the-Green. He’s your HORSE this year
Others to consider:
Derek Fathauer 350-1
Probably not but the 33-year-old Fathauer continues to make enough noise on the PGA TOUR despite going winless in 143 career starts and having finished no better than 100th in the FedExCup (2015-16). He has conditional status this season and has made just one cut in three starts thus far so we can understand why he’s priced so high but somebody at big odds will be on the leaderboard so why not Fathauer? One of his mainstays to collect points has been the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He's perfect in five tries with a pair of top 25s. He's also fresh off a T5 at the http://Web.com Tour stop in Colombia where his final-round 64 was a field-best for the day. You could do a lot worse than this guy at 350-1, like Graeme McDowell at 110-1, for instance.
Ernie Els 250-1
It will have gone unnoticed to many – hence why he’s the perfect sleeper pick – but legend Ernie Els has rediscovered some form of late. Operating largely on the European Tour, Big Easy banked back-to-back top-30 finishes in his homeland before contending at the Dubai Desert Classic; he eventually fell away to T12. The old short game magic is back, and with plenty of greens expected to be missed at Pebble Beach, he really could take advantage. Some of his key stats are that he is ranked 7th ON TOUR in Greens in Regulation 11th in SG: Around-the-Green and 32nd in SG:Par 4 Scoring Average. Very few will have him in their DFS lineup.
Russell Henley 80-1
There was a welcome return to form for Russell Henley in Phoenix last week. One swallow doesn’t make a summer, as we know, but his T15 effort in the desert – with all four rounds played under par – is an excellent sign. He’s a player who should instinctively enjoy this test. Henley loves playing in the wind and has a trio of eye-catching triumphs at the Sony Open, Honda Classic and Houston Open; three events not shy of a breeze or two. Two top-20s in four trips to Pebble Beach perhaps confirms our suspicions that he should be in your lineup and maybe even a small bet to win it all. Some key stats: Driving Accuracy – 35th Par 4 Scoring Average – 41st Greens in Regulation – 50th
The total amount risked on this event is 4.8 units and we’ll update the results after the results are official.
All wagers lost and therefore the total net loss for this event was 4.8 units
Open an account today at Pinnacle Sports
They offer win-only odds in the outrights and for the PGA, European, Champions and LPGA Tours only, but they make up for this in terms of value in their matchups. They consistently offer unique tournament matchups for the PGA which at 10-20 cent lines and no ties are the best on offer in the business.
AT&T Pebble Beach Course Preview (Risking 4.8 units - To Win: 0.00)