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Who Could Take Advantage of a Weakened Field at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

By: Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads

Luke List, Sebastian Munoz, Wyndham Clark, K.H. Lee and Matt Kuchar.

Then, the big one came Tuesday morning: Dustin Johnson.

On Friday, the announced field for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am was worth 38 Official World Golf Ranking points to the winner. Since that time, there have been several notable withdraws.

As a result, the winner will now gain just 30 points, the weakest field since the Bermuda Championship back at the beginning of November.

In previous years, this tournament was played with amateurs, featured three courses, and had a 54-hole cut. This year, we still have 156 players in the field, but there are no amateurs, we’re down to two courses, and the cut will happen after two rounds. The first two rounds will be split at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Course. Both weekend rounds will then be played at Pebble Beach.

Brian Stuard, one of the model’s players to watch this weekend, hits a chip shot on the 10th hole at Pebble Beach. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Spyglass Hill is a 7,041-yard par 72 and Pebble is a 7,051-yard par 72. Both can play difficult, depending on the wind. The forecast does not look promising, and we could see cold, wet, and windy conditions for all four rounds. Of note, Pebble is usually set up at 6,816 yards for this tournament, but without amateurs the pros will be playing from tees set a little further back. This should increase the difficulty of the course, which already plays over par.

Pebble Beach is a second-shot golf course, where the driver is largely neutralized by huge crevasses and severe doglegs. The average green size is just 3,500 square feet, and greens in regulation are traditionally harder to come by here than at the average PGA course. On the flip side, fairways are huge and errant drives are rare, but with smaller greens, positioning is huge and being on the wrong side of the fairway can be just as bad as missing on the correct side in the rough.

Per our model, the standard deviation of scores at this course is 8.6, which is on the higher end of the spectrum. With a large field and a lot of variability, it’s traditionally opened the door for some longer-odds players to hoist the trophy.

Rather than focusing on the top of the betting board this week, which is admittedly quite weak, we’ll look further down in an attempt to identify some players who may surprise.

Longshots Who Fit the Course

In the last few weeks, we’ve identified players whose profile fits the layout of the course. With so many players in the field, we’ll narrow this down to players we feel have a chance who also fit the course well.

Of those gaining the most, the model particularly points to Brian Harman and Brian Stuard as players to watch in this tournament.

Brian Harman

Harman fits this course nicely. He plays his best golf on short par 4s and par 5s, which encompasses 66% of the holes at Pebble. He hasn’t played this tournament recently, so we don’t have much course history data on him, but a player who relies on positioning on a positioning course is someone should perform well. We have Harman with a higher chance to win this tournament than struggling stars Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth.

Brian Stuard

We have Stuard as the 42nd-best golfer in this field. That doesn’t seem very high, but he’s listed at odds of 200-1 to win this tournament. In comparison, the players we have at 41st and 43rd both have odds under 100-1. Stuard is 113th in this field in projected long par 4 scoring, but that’s not what Pebble Beach is about. He’s in the top 50 in all other hole types, including 12th on long par 3s. With one of the par 3s being extended this year without amateurs, Stuard gets a bit of a boost.

Focusing a little more on the short par 4s, here are the top 10 projected performers on those holes:

RankPlayerSG Per Hole
1Daniel Berger0.136
2Joel Dahmen0.135
3Patrick Cantlay0.132
4Paul Casey0.131
5Brian Harman0.112
6Ryan Moore0.104
7Rory Sabbatini0.104
8Kevin Streelman0.093
9Tom Hoge0.088
10Rafa Cabrera Bello0.081

The two golfers to watch here?

Tom Hoge

If a course plays with a bunch of length, Hoge is not your guy. He’s missed six of his last seven cuts, but in four of those six, he gained strokes on short par 4s. It’s where he’s best, and this course should suit him well.

Ryan Moore

Like Hoge, Moore is coming in with less than inspiring recent results. He’s missed three consecutive cuts to start 2021 but has actually gained strokes tee to green in each of those tournaments. Last week, he lost 7.6 strokes putting…in just two rounds. While not known as a good putter, 7.6 strokes in two rounds is like a horrible achievement.

Favorite Draftkings GPP Plays

With DJ out, players at the top of the salary table are all going to be highly owned. We’re fine taking the chalk at the top and differentiating some at the lower levels.

$9,000+

Patrick Cantlay           $11,300

Daniel Berger              $10,100

Jason Day                   $9,500

Cameron Davis           $9,000

$8,000s

Kevin Streelman         $8,900

Cameron Tringale       $8,500

Alex Noren                  $8,300

Brian Harman             $8,200

$7,000s

Rory Sabbatini            $7,600

Joel Dahmen              $7,400

Ryan Moore                $7,300

Charley Hoffman         $7,300

Adam Long                 $7,300

Mark Hubbard             $7,200

Tom Hoge                   $7,100

Scott Piercy                $7,100

Jhonattan Vegas         $7,000

$6,000s

Denny McCarthy         $6,900

Patrick Rodgers          $6,900

Tyler Duncan              $6,800

Brice Garnett              $6,700

Kristoffer Ventura        $6,600

Adam Schenk             $6,500

Ben Martin                  $6,500

 

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