Pebble Beach Fantasy Fore Play
By James Dalthorp III
BEAST DOME NATION.
The course breakdowns are going to be a little more subtle this year and I’m going to keep it short and sweet. The weather is just as important as anything, and this week is no exception. We’ll see overcast weather and potential for dreary conditions with moisture, but overall we should have a pretty civil battle along the coast of Northern California.
This is a staple event in golf, and as far as venues go – it’s the top of the food chain. However, due to the strength of PGA Tour events and the need for players to occasionally take a week off here and there (plus the fact that amateurs give this event a different feel), this field has not been one of the strongest on Tour over the past decade. In fact, we occasionally see a very unknown winner. Stars and scrubs, people. Let’s analyze.
Last week we saw 2 of the best players in the world win in their respective events. Brooks Koepka had a classic come from behind victory with a career performance while his often major rival Dustin Johnson won overseas. Dustin is hands down the most accomplished and best pick in this field – and coming off a victory and coming to an event he has multiple wins makes him extra dangerous. Is this too big of a lock? Maybe. But let’s hope DJ has a good flight back to the states. If he brings his B+ game, he will win.
2. Brandon Hagy
Let’s consider a younger player who is a bit unknown here. Hagy has a ton of length, which can make these Pebble Beach courses a bit of pitch and putt. Additionally, he is basically a local – having played his college golf nearby at Berkeley. He also had two of his best rounds on Tour here last year and is coming off his best start on Tour in a season to date – despite the fact he hasn’t been a quality finisher on Sunday. Despite this, Pebble’s atmosphere along with an amateur partner can calm the nerves of even the most unheralded and delusional. Hagy doesn’t need it, but someone trying to break through won’t be harmed by this.
3. Harold Varner
Coming off consistent plays and good rounds, this is an event where Harold makes himself a valuable play. He is not typically a guy who runs away and hides on his best days – but tends to play his best rounds on historically traditional and well protected courses. Pebble is no exception – and I think this is one of the few events Harold can win on this year.
4. James Hahn
I don’t always like to pick the most popular players in the average circuit but I think Hahn will be one of those this week and for good reason! He quietly shined last weekend – ultimately having a rough finish. However, his final round back nine was something special to behold. At -6 through 10 holes, he had the lead solo for a portion of the day. Seemingly out of nowhere. That’s the kind of run that only a guy who is truly streaky can get to. I watched some videos of his chipping and short game and I’m not surprised. He’s a great pick.
5. Doug Ghim
Some of my favorite picks from 2019 and 2020 have recently started to show the consistency that they couldn’t quite find in the previous seasons. Jordan Spieth is getting there, Scottie Scheffler is almost there, Morikawa and Hovland are on top of the world, and meanwhile ….. there’s Doug Ghim (among a couple other of my usual favorites from the 2019 breakout). Ghim putts extremely well on poa Annua greens. We have to consider this. Some players don’t putt well here because the greens can get so bumpy. That’s an advantage to good ball strikers (like Dustin, Hagy, Varner….) and gives a rookie a fresh, younger player some life. Home game on the greens for Ghim.
Fun side note: John Daly is in the field this week.
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