Pebble Beach is a very frustrating tournament to forecast because there are just so many variables at work.
Firstly, Pebble is an exceptionally-short Par 72 course that is more known for its aesthetic beauty when set up for scoring (as it will be this week) than for difficulty. Yes, it has hosted five U.S. Opens in the past and can be turned into quite a bear, but for this event, the tournament hosts make it far more accessible. They do this largely because every pro is paired with amateurs of varying skill levels, thus it helps keep pace of play and the enjoyability factor higher when conditions are easier. At the same time, pace of play will undoubtedly suffer as a result of the amateur presence, thus there is yet another added variable of how a player’s amateur partner will affect the pro’s patience and mental game when we are depending on them to perform.
Secondly, the players only play the actual Pebble Beach course twice – they will play two of their first three rounds on Monterey Peninsula GC and Spyglass Hill GC, adding a bunch more confusing variables into the mix with two entirely different courses with different scoring potential. This is particularly important when you factor in the third and, in my opinion, most important variable for this event…
Pebble generally plays only as difficult as the wind will allow. Since the course is so short, it depends on strong coastal gusts and breezes to force players to select clubs and shot shapes judiciously. If the weather affected all of the players equally, then it wouldn’t be that big of an issue as player selection could be controlled for wind impact and we could more appropriately fade and buy certain players who are more resilient in windy conditions. Unfortunately, it does not affect all players equally. In fact, given the three course format, there can be a major scoring discrepancy if the winds pick up while a player is on Pebble, only to have no wind the following day when other players were able to take advantage of a course like Spyglass Hill which is further from the coast and more insulated from the wind.
Suffice it to say, even with a razor-sharp weather forecast and keen eye for player selection, this is just a tough week for PGA DFS. Most of your research attention should be paid – as is customary in high-scoring events like this one – to tee-to-green play as players who are able to consistently hit green after green will have a greater volume of birdie opportunities and need not rely as heavily on putting to get the job done.
Course: Three Courses – Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula
Yardage/Par: 6,816 Yards/Par 72 (Pebble), 6,953 Yards/Par 72 (Spyglass), 6,914 Yards/Par 71 (Monterey)
Scoring Expectation: Scoring at Pebble (and the other two tracks) is largely dependent on the weather, but as in most pro-am events, the expectation should be that the courses will be set up to enable even Chris Berman to make a few birdies. With soft conditions, expect something around -20.
Greens: Poa Annua
Weather: Stay up to date on this throughout the week, but as of now, we’ve got a 100% chance of rain Thursday/Friday followed by sunny skies and very little wind Saturday/Sunday.
Dustin Johnson ($22,300, Cash or GPP): Even before DJ became the elite-tier talent he is now, DJ was trouncing this event with relative ease. In his first seven appearances at Pebble, he had six top-tens, including two wins. Despite lackluster performances here the last two years, I would expect DJ to contend with his B game, much less his A game.
Jon Rahm ($18,200, Cash or GPP): Another week, another discount Jon Rahm price. Sporting a skillset that rivals that of DJ, there’s simply no reason to believe that Rahm can’t have every bit as much success as DJ has at Pebble. Count on him to pay off his salary with at least a top-20 finish, if not better.
Justin Rose ($17,500, Cash or GPP): The biggest concern with Rose lately has been injury, but if you take that element away, you’ve got a guy who is still a top-ten talent in the world for a huge discount price. Based on his impressive performance at the difficult Torrey Pines, I think it’s safe to say that Rose is back and ready to play. Fire him up.
Adam Hadwin ($14,000, Cash or GPP): Hadwin has been making a very strong case to be considered among the upper-tier of PGA Tour talent lately. Aside from his performance at Torrey Pines – a course that didn’t fit him that well to begin with, and he still got through the cut – Hadwin has been absolutely rock solid in virtually every phase of the game. He’s an easy buy here.
Good luck in your contests this week, stay disciplined, and trust your process!