AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am Fantasy Preview
There was an exciting finish to last week when four players headed into a playoff to decide the winner of the Farmers Insurance Open. Harris English, who had led for much of the tournament and defending champion Scott Stallings were dispatched at the first playoff hole after making par at the par 5 18th. Then J.B. Holmes fired over the green at the par 3 16th, meaning a par was enough for Jason Day to claim victory, a win that sees him rise to number 4 in the World Rankings.
This week sees a tournament played over three different courses – Spyglass Hill, Monterey Peninsula and the iconic Pebble Beach, the latter hosting the final round of the tournament as well as one of the first three rounds for all of the players. Unlike other tour events, this event has a 54 hole cut, which takes place once every player has played all three courses.
There are two interesting players this week who didn’t make my 8. Firstly there is Jason Day. Having won last week he came very close, but I always tend to shy away from players who won last time out, unless they have shown me that they can do it back to back. The other one is Dustin Johnson. Johnson is a two time winner of this event and clearly loves the place, but having just missed the cut last week after 6 months out, I’m holding fire on DJ right now. Having said that, I wouldn’t discourage anyone from picking either of these 2 players this week.
Here are my 8 picks for this week:
Jimmy Walker – Picking Walker is becoming quite repetitive, but there is absolutely no reason not to pick him. He is in a rich vein of form, his worst finish of the year being 7th, and he is the defending champion here. The last event he went into as the defending champion was the Sony Open and he managed to win that by 9 strokes. Walker sits at a career high world ranking of 13th right now and is a late entry into the ‘the best player never to win a Major’ reckoning.
Patrick Reed – Reed already has one victory to his name this year and is playing in an event he clearly likes with 13th and 7th place finishes in 2013 and 2014. With three wins on the PGA tour since the start of last year, this is a player who can get the job done, and showed some of this mettle when starring for the US Ryder Cup team last year. I think Reed could be a multiple winner this year.
JB Holmes – I always like to pick a player who just missed out the previous week – they’ve been in the mix and have some extra determination the next week to go one better. Having said that, Holmes is something of a gamble, a very hit and miss player, but when he is good, he is very good, as he showed when winning the Wells Fargo Championship last year. His second place last week saw him return to the top 50 in the world for the first time since 2009, and he has showed he is capable at this event, finishing runner up in 2010.
Kevin Na – Kevin Na would have been frustrated not to have won last year, finishing runner up in three different events. This year has seen a solid but not spectacular start with 64th, 48th and 26th place finishes – three made cuts and a solid progression there. What stands out about Na this week is his solid record at the Pro-Am, 22nd and 4th in the last two tournaments.
Jamie Donaldson – Much like Jimmy Walker, Jamie Donaldson has suddenly blossomed relatively late in his career. The 39 year old was a star in the European Ryder Cup team, a team he made with a clutch victory in the Czech Masters, one of the most impressive performances of 2014. Two rare outings on the PGA tour in the last two weeks have seen 46th and 19th place finishes and I get the impression that this likeable Welshman will enjoy the Pro-Am format this week.
Shane Lowry (sleeper) – Lowry was one of my sleepers last week and a top ten finish sees him make my list again this week. I said last week that Lowry is definitely one to watch and I’d be very surprised if he is ranked as low as 40th in the world come the end of the year – he is playing some of the most consistent golf of his career right now.
James Hahn (sleeper) – Hahn has made the cut at each of the four events he has played this year on the tour, a big step up from the struggles he faced last year. One of the problems for Hahn is that he has the ability to throw in a really bad round occasionally, which undoes a lot of good work. However, Hahn did finish 3rd here in 2013, so has to be worth a look.
Daniel Berger (sleeper) – Berger is one of the young guns on the tour and he has made an impressive start after graduating from the Web.com tour last year. After missing the cut in his two PGA tour starts he has made 6 of 7 cuts and his last 4 events have seen three top 25 finishes and he currently sits 50th in the Fedex Cup standings. Berger is a big hitter and is clearly one to watch.
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