Power Rankings: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
February 04, 2019
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
Jason Day drops 43-foot birdie putt at AT&T Pebble Beach
Nestled inside the West Coast Swing is a fortnight of bucket-list experiences during which we're at the midpoint. Simply attending the Waste Management Phoenix Open checks off one box for all fans of the PGA TOUR, but to play Pebble Beach Golf Links even once in a lifetime sits atop the ranking of targets for all golfers.
But how about twice in four months?
After it anchors this week's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, the host course will gear up in earnest for the U.S. Open in mid-June. As of midday Monday, 13 of the 156 golfers in this week's field officially are qualified for the season's third major, and many more entrants will gain entry over time without having to endure sectional qualifying. So, this week presents the bonus of a scouting trip for the major.
Those who have flocked to the Monterey Peninsula will be treated to a sampling of what to expect in the U.S. Open. Scroll past the ranking for details on that, how co-hosts Spyglass Hill Golf Club and Monterey Peninsula Country Club's Shore Course fit in, an explanation of the tournament's format and more.
Tuesday's Fantasy Insider will include defending champion Ted Potter, Jr., 2014 winner Jimmy Walker, Adam Scott, Patrick Reed and Tony Finau. It also will dive into more detail about the difficulty of each course and how fantasy gamers should approach the tournament.
To prepare Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open, primary rough already has been allowed to grow on the perimeters of the fairways. While landing areas will be noticeably tighter than usual, the longest of the grass will be capped at two inches for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
In 2010, when Pebble Beach was striding to the plate to host the U.S. Open, the field split 65.40 percent of the fairways in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am earlier in the year. That represented a decrease of 10-12 percent compared to the years leading into that season. Field averages have fluctuated in between since, but finding the short grass will again have some value this week.
Considering that Pebble's distance of all drives of 271.3 yards was the shortest average among all courses measured last season (and in line with its long-term trend) and that the course's putting surfaces average a tiny 3,500 square feet, boring golf is great golf amid the best of vistas.
This is the 10th consecutive edition of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for which the current rotation of courses is used. Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill are par 72s, while MPCC's Shore Course is a par 71 with five par 3s. Three of MPCC's par 5s are on the inward nine, so the respective pars are 34 and 37.
All three tracks are among the shortest tackled all season, but Spyglass Hill now boasts the longest walk of the trio, if barely. Thanks to an increase of seven yards on the par-3 third hole (to 172 yards), its overall yardage is 6,960 yards, two yards longer than MPCC. Pebble Beach checks is as usual at 6,816 yards. (It was stretched to 7,040 yards for the 2010 U.S. Open.)
Severe weather over the weekend caused damage to temporary structures erected for the tournament. Trees also were uprooted, but none of the three courses were affected directly. So, the only twister you'll see is Ho Sung Choi's swing. The 45-year-old from South Korea is making his PGA TOUR debut this week (on a sponsor exemption). His action went viral last summer, and then he won the Casio World Open in late November. If he can replicate or improve on the result of Matthew Wolff – he of his own unique swing – at last week's WMPO (T50), it'll be a mission accomplished.
After every golfer records one round on each course, only the low 60 and ties at the conclusion of 54 holes will play the finale at Pebble Beach. However, just like at every non-major with a cut, the low 70 and ties will collect FedExCup points and official earnings. Furthermore, the low 25 pro-am teams also will compete for their respective title at Pebble Beach on Sunday, even if the pro in the partnership missed the cut in the tournament proper.
Because ShotLink will be used only on Pebble Beach for the tournament, lasered statistics including distance of all drives, proximity to the hole and all stroked-gained data will apply only to the host course.
Winter is hanging on tightly along the Northern California coast. Daytime highs may not even reach the mid-50s throughout, and even that reflects a mild warming. After a dry opening round, rain is all but guaranteed during each of the last three, so the Poa annua greens likely won't touch 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter as designed. Sustained winds at 10-15 mph will accompany the precipitation. Indeed, a bucket-list experience at Pebble Beach.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
THURSDAY: Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.