It’s going to be a chilly week on the Monterey Peninsula, where the PGA Tour is in town for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
For the first three rounds, the tournament will be played over three courses – Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club – before heading to just Pebble Beach for the final round.
The weather might not be pretty for those playing, but the breathtaking views from these courses never get old.
There’s some added excitement this year, too, as the U.S. Open returns to Pebble in June… under far different conditions.
So, which players should you be playing close attention to this week? We asked three caddies on the ground there just that.
To protect their identity, each of our caddies made their respective picks anonymously. Here are the players they expect to see on Page 1 of the leaderboard come Sunday evening…
- Matt Kuchar. “It’s been an impressive and fruitful career for Kuch. And here he is right now at age 40, playing arguably the best golf of his life. His wedge game has been particularly impressive this new season. He’s ranked among the top-20 on Tour in proximity to the hole (18’3”) from 125-150 yards this year. That leads to a lot of birdie looks… which he has taken advantage of, evidenced by two wins (Mayakoba and Sony) in five starts, to go along with a T4 Sunday at the Phoenix Open. Believe it or not, this is just the second multi-win season of his career. He’s got plenty of time to add to that total.
- Jason Day. “He’s finished in the top-5 at Pebble in three of the last five seasons, highlighted by a T2 last year. The only thing left for him to do there is win. He always seems to play exceptionally well this time of year – see the win at Torrey Pines last year, too – so I expect that trend to continue.”
- Dustin Johnson. “DJ loves Pebble Beach. He’s won there twice in this tournament and came oh-so-close to winning the 2010 U.S. Open there and probably would have if it weren’t for a rough final round. He’s got momentum, too, having just won in Saudi Arabia on Sunday in the European Tour event there.”
- Tony Finau. “His name comes up as a favorite every week these days it seems and deservedly so. He’s constantly putting himself in a position to have a chance to win. Sure, he missed the cut last week in Phoenix, but do you realize that was just his first missed-cut since last season’s FedEx St. Jude Classic, which was played in early June? It’s going to be soft at Pebble this week as it usually is this time of year and someone who can carry the ball a long way will have a huge advantage. Tony checks that box.”
- Tommy Fleetwood. “The Englishman is a rock star in Europe and it’s only a matter of time before he’s a rock star here in The States. He’s one of the strongest players in the field (currently No. 14 in the world) and always seems to play well on major courses (three top-20 finishes in the four majors last year). This feels like a scouting trip for Fleetwood, as the U.S. Open returns to Pebble in June.”
- Phil Mickelson. “His missed cut at TPC Scottsdale was surprising last week given his track record at that course. But I think he’ll bounce back this week. He loves Pebble, having won here on four occasions, most recently in 2012. Even at age 48, he can still carry it a long way. That’s always an advantage, but especially on a soft course. Combine the length with his knowledge and past success here (including a T2 last year) and I like his chances.”
- Dustin Johnson. He’s fresh off a win last week on the European Tour, so confidence is high. And he loves Pebble Beach. With the wet conditions and DJ’s length, it only makes him more of a favorite.
- Jason Day. Another bomber and his record at Pebble is impressive. He played well at San Diego – no surprise since he won there a year ago. He’s going to be able to get home to almost every par 5 this week, which is a massive advantage.
- Adam Scott. He’s not a great putter, but in my opinion the bumpy greens at Pebble, Spyglass and MPCC help the not so great putters. He’s also had a week to rest. With the weather not looking so great, it’s going to be a long week. I think Adam or Jason are fresh for a win.