I’m not sure how the drama of last week’s Phoenix Open can be topped, but the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am certainly has the field –and background — for it this week. The PGA Tour will conclude its California swing with a nasty one-two punch of Pebble this week and Riviera next before heading off to Mexico and hurtling toward the Players Championship in March.
Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.
What: Pebble Beach Pro-Am | When: Feb. 7-10
Where: Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, Monterey — Pebble Beach, California
Ranking the field (odds)
Field strength — B-: It’s a fun field, but I don’t know if it’s a great one. I do think several golfers are playing for the first time (or the first time in a long time) because the U.S. Open is here later this season.
Three things to know
1. U.S. Open preview: The return to Pebble later this summer might not mean a ton for this year’s event, but it’s certainly a lens through which I’m going to watch. If not for which players handle the course well then for how the course sets up for the third major championship of 2019.
2. Ho Sung Mania: The 194th-ranked player in the world, Ho Sung Choi might be the most popular man in the field this week. If you haven’t seen him and his, uh, unorthodox swing, you will this week. He’ll be the one who looks like an amateur but plays like a pro.
Hosung Choi wins on the Japan Golf Tour.
Here’s a look at that magnificent swing. pic.twitter.com/xZrXgHcZbz
— Skratch (@Skratch) November 25, 2018
3. A 1929 throwback: How about this for history? At the 1929 U.S. Amateur, a man named Johnny Goodman beat back-to-back and reigning U.S. Open champ Bobby Jones in Round 1 of the match play portion of the event at Pebble Beach. Why is that significant? Well, it’s one of the more stunning wins in golf history, and it led to Jones hanging for a week with Alister MacKenzie to talk about course architecture. As the story goes, that conversation was part of a bigger conversation that would eventually lead to the construction of a place you may have heard of: Augusta National.
One story I’m following
With a win this week, Johnson would become just the 38th golfer in history to win 20 PGA Tour events and one of just a handful to accomplish the feat before age 35. He’s still smack in the middle of his prime, even if it feels like every week we forget that he even exists. Oh yeah, and he won last week.
Tiger Woods will pick things back up next week when he plays the Genesis Open. This will be his second consecutive week to sit.
- 2018: Ted Potter Jr.
- 2017: Jordan Spieth
- 2016: Vaughn Taylor
- 2015: Brandt Snedeker
- 2014: Jimmy Walker
Pebble Beach Pro-Am picks
Winner: It’s so easy to envision, isn’t it? Tommy Locks and his hair flowing off the Pacific Ocean. He’s never played here, but I could not be more in on the debut.
Top 10: He’s never chased any of his worldwide wins with another one in the following week, so this would be unprecedented territory even for him. Still, it’s hard to ignore the finishes ( seven top fives in his last 11 starts ).
Sleeper: He’s won two of the last six tournaments here, and he’s 50-1.