The First Tee – Pebble Beach Pro Am by Adam Daly

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff February 6, 2018 01:13

The First Tee – Pebble Beach Pro Am by Adam Daly

This may be the absolute worst week of golf on the schedule – and yes, that includes the Puerto Rico Open – with yet again three courses (only ShotLink on one), a 54-hole cut, and having to watch celebrities duff shots. Beyond that, DraftKings’ pricing is the softest that it’s been all season.

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am takes place at Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill, and Monterey Peninsula, and although they’re three different courses they do have some overlapping features.

THE COURSES – Overlapping features

All three courses are incredibly short, from 6816 at Pebble Beach to 6958 at Monterey Peninsula, and all feature very easy to find wide fairways. Although the impact of missing the fairway will vary depending on the course, all three will be hit at around 70% or better – part of this is due to the shortness of the courses, which means the more inaccurate hitters off the tee can leave driver in the bag for a wood or long iron. Most approach shots will come with a wedge or short iron in hand, as there are a ton of short par-4s, and with almost no rough this is essentially a pitch & putt contest.

The greens on all three courses is Poa Annua, and extraordinarily small (between 3500-4500 square feet depending on the course). That will put an emphasis on proximity/greens in regulation, but it will also be important to look for players that can get up and down without dropping too many strokes.

The last commonality between the three courses is that they’re all coastal courses – although Spyglass doesn’t see as much of the coast as the other two – which means they’re all easily affected by the wind. With the winds looking to be pretty strong on Saturday, targeting the golfers that will be at Spyglass would minimize the weather impact as much as possible.

THE COURSE – Spyglass Hill

Spyglass Hill is just five yards shorter than Monterery, but par at S.H. is 72 as opposed to the par-71 at Monterey. This course typically plays as the hardest of the three when weather stays calm, but as mentioned it’s a touch more protected here from the ocean than the other two courses. Off the tee, there are more hazards to avoid than MP and PB, with more bunkers and hedge/fescue areas that could come into play.

The four par-5s here average out as the longest of the event, and only four eagles were made on the par-5s here last year.

THE COURSE – Monterey Peninsula

Monterey is a rather unique par-71, in that it has five par-3s and four par-5s. It plays at 6958 yards, and also the easiest hole of the week with the par-5 16th: last year, 14 eagles were made on the 16th and the scoring average was -0.734. There’s not much to say about Monterey that isn’t covered above, but for betting purposes look for FRL bets with golfers starting on this course thanks to how easy it plays, or for a front-runner to pad his week early for DFS purposes.

THE COURSE – Pebble Beach Golf Links

Pebble Beach GL is the course that features ShotLink, and is incredibly short at only 6816 yards as a par-72. It’s the most susceptible to wind, which in bad weather years will make it the toughest of the three courses, but typically slots in the middle. The four par-3s have a yardage average of only 168 yards thanks to the 106-yard 7th, one of the easiest holes on the course and the easiest of the four; strong par-3 scoring will be needed, as the other par-3s on this course all play above par.

Off the tee, out of bounds will be more in play than the other two courses.

STATS

The Strokes Gained stats to focus on in order (not including Tee to Green):

  • Approach
  • Putting
  • Around the Green
  • Off the Tee

Counting stats to focus on in order:

  • Birdie or Better %
  • Approach Shots: 50-125 Yards
  • Greens in Regulation
  • Par-5 Scoring
  • Scrambling
  • Launch Angle (for wind – the lower angle, the better)

The Golfers

Jordan Spieth ($10700): Last year’s champion and with no finishes worse than T22 here, Spieth is entering the week needing a “get right” event he’s comfortable with, and this fits the bill. After completely losing the plot with his putter this season, it’s a question where Spieth’s ownership will finish; priced as the fifth-highest option, he should be an extremely popular play.

Putting aside his putting woes – and Spieth has historically putted extremely well here (on the 36 holes that are tracked) – Spieth is mostly playing like himself. He’s 20th in SG: Approach, 11th in SG: Around the Green, has hit a massive 81% of greens in regulation, and in the 30 par-5s he’s played this season he’s scored an average of 4.43 (60% BoB). Backing him this week is a bet on positive regression from the putter, and betting on course history.

Other statistical merits:

  • 49th on Approach from 50-125
  • 1st in Greens in Regulation / 19th in Proximity to Hole
  • 18th in BoB% (25.56%)
  • 4th in SG: Tee to Green

Alternate top-tier options:

Branden Grace ($9100): Grace has no history on the course, and is priced in a spot where he’ll fly under the radar. Grace is an excellent golfer in links conditions, and while Pebble Beach isn’t exactly the Open, the coastal conditions and small bumpy greens should make the South African right at home. Grace hasn’t played in a “PGA”-tracked event since the HSBC WGC, but since then he’s made every cut on the Euro Tour with a win at the Nedbank Challenge and a runner-up at the South African Open – and no finishes worse than T37 (Dubai). He’s an excellent scrambler, and his poor accuracy off the tee will be mitigated by the wide fairways; at 2-4%, Grace has the game to contend for a win at this event and win someone a GPP.

Value:

Chris Kirk ($7100) – Kirk has a middling history at Pebble Beach, with two missed cuts in six tries, T61, T69, but he had a second-place finish in 2013 and came T39 last year. Kirk’s been in solid form since the 2018 season turned over, missing two cuts (Shriners and CareerBuilder), but with three finishes of T11 or better. This season, Kirk’s been very strong both on approach and around the greens, sitting 15th and 21st for the 2018 in both regards. He’s typically a poor putter, which makes him higher risk, but is typically strong on par-3s (of which there are 17 through four rounds) and with a 2018 scoring average of 4.59 on par-5s, he should keep his head above the water there as well. Kirk also typically has one of the lower launch angles on Tour, which should help him on the weekend when winds do pick up.

Other valuesAaron Baddeley ($7400): Hasn’t missed a cut here since 2010, and picked up a 4th, 6th, 12th finish to go with some mid-50th finishes. He’s strong any time he has a wedge in his hand, sitting 52nd on approach from 50-125, 4th around the green, and tends to putt incredibly well on poa. His short play off the tee won’t be a factor, and with the pricing on DK as whacky as it is, he’ll go very under the radar. Also strong in the wind.

Rafa Cabrera-Bello ($6900): Won’t talk too much about RCB, but he’s priced about $1500 too cheap. Has the pedigree and can contend here, but will be owned across all contests.

Good luck this week! You can follow me on Twitter @adalyfrey if you have any questions, and my DMs are always open.

Fantasy Golf Insider Staff
By Fantasy Golf Insider Staff February 6, 2018 01:13

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