Fresh off a dramatic finish to the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, the PGA Tour heads up the California coast to Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill, one of the most pristine places in the world.
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is the second Signature Event of the season, as a loaded field will vie for a $20 million purse and 700 FedEx Cup points along the Monterey Peninsula.
Ten of the top 11 players in the Official World Golf Rankings are in this year’s field, with the lone outlier being LIV Golf’s Jon Rahm. It is the strongest field the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has ever had.
Last year, Justin Rose shot four rounds in the 60s to win by three shots over Brendon Todd and Brendon Wu. The final round was delayed until Monday, but that did not stop the Englishman. It was the first time Rose won on the PGA Tour since 2019, when he bested Adam Scott by two shots at Torrey Pines.
Taking this into account, let us now reveal who the Playing Through staff thinks will prevail this week at Pebble Beach:
Kendall Capps – Senior Editor
I am going to take Justin Thomas.
He quietly has four straight top-five finishes in his last four worldwide events. During his awful season last year, his iron play was maybe the biggest reason he struggled to succeed.
However, in his last four starts, he has gained more than a shot per round on the field on approach shots.
Pebble Beach puts a premium on iron play thanks to its minuscule green complexes, which are the smallest on the PGA Tour. Consider this: the average green at Pebble Beach is only 3,500 square feet and the average depth is just 26 paces. These greens are so small that you could fit four of them into the average green at St. Andrews, which is 13,600 square feet.
Hence, accuracy when approaching these greens is paramount.
This tournament is not made for the bombers, as Pebble Beach tips out at a shade under 7,000 yards. But with highs in the 50s and wind upwards of 30mph, the course will play longer than listed.
As such, distance control with irons will be crucial. Thomas turned a corner and proved a point at the Ryder Cup last fall. He has only continued to play well since and will carry the illustrious trophy home on Sunday.
Jack Milko – Staff Writer
Jordan Spieth has never missed the cut at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, and after a strong performance at The Sentry to kick off the 2024 season, I am picking him to win this week.
Spieth won this event in 2017 at 19-under and finished in solo second to Tom Hoge in 2022. He has also recorded four other top-10 finishes at Pebble Beach.
Plus, according to statistician Justin Ray, Spieth has the best scoring record out of any player in the field this week.
There are more than 150 players with at least 10 @attproam rounds at Pebble + Spyglass over the last decade. Best scoring averages of players in the field this week:
Jordan Spieth, 69.61
Denny McCarthy, 69.73
Justin Rose, 69.75
Jason Day, 69.89
M. McNealy, 70.0
P. Cantlay, 70.0
— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf) January 29, 2024
Pebble Beach is one of Spieth’s favorite courses. He has called it a “top 3 course in the world for him.” The stats show that, too, and his comfort on this track will only make him more confident as the week progresses.
If Spieth misses a few of Pebble Beach’s small greens, he can always rely on his nifty short game to get up and down and save par.
Of course, he tends to get wayward off the tee, but he seems to channel Seve Ballesteros as an escape artist. He never quits on a hole, but he never fails to entertain his fans, either.
And since this week will play more like an Open Championship than a bombing birdie fest, very few players have the scrambling ability that Spieth possesses.
Give me Spieth to prevail for a second time at Pebble Beach, as he continues his hot start to 2024.
Savannah Leigh Richardson – Staff Writer
I’m going with Viktor Hovland as my pick.
He won the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble and was the low amateur at the 2019 U.S. Open. Pebble Beach fits his game well.
He has not played since The Sentry, where he tied for 22nd, but three weeks off should have Hovland well-rested and ready to go.
Last year, Hovland tied for 13th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am a few months before his victory at the Memorial Tournament in Columbus. He then went on a tea in the playoffs, winning the BMW and Tour Championships to secure the FedEx Cup.
Hovland continued his strong play at the Ryder Cup, helping Europe win on their home soil yet again.
I look for him to build off his strong 2023 finish with a big win at Pebble, confirming his status as one of the best players on the planet.