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Sunday, February 3, 2013

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am - Preview

I love watching the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, but I hate trying to predict it. There are almost more variables for which one can account. With so many different ways to look at a tournament like this, the key is to pick a strategy and stick to it.

In terms of format, it's very similar to the Humana Challenge. Three courses are in play, and amateurs are riding shotgun for the first three rounds. Unlike Humana, a select number of amateurs will make the 54-hole playing cut and earn a Sunday tee time. A player who performed well at the Humana could be worth a close look because it at least shows he can handle the pace of play and the rotation of courses. In general, the three courses at the Humana are easier than those on the Monterey Peninsula.

We've seen all sorts of weather this year, and Pebble Beach isn't immune to its share of challenges from Mother Nature. Parts of the property are located directly on the water and it's not out of the question to see showers and/or wind become a factor. It can also get a little chilly.

It's hard to peg a "type" of player the courses favor. The host course, Pebble Beach Golf Links is a Par 72 / 6816 yard track, with Monterey Peninsula Country Club (70/6838) and Spyglass Hill Golf Club (72/6953) rounding out the lineup. Despite the courses being among the shortest on TOUR, known bombers like Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and even J.B. Holmes to a lesser degree enjoy a solid history. Mickelson and Johnson are both multiple winners. There are also plenty of examples of precision players like Mike Weir doing very well here over the years.

Of 49 courses played on the PGA TOUR in 2012, Spyglass ranked the 18th hardest at +.581 to par, followed by  Monterey in 23rd at -.117 while Pebble Beach was 24th at -.143. Simply put, there isn't a major difference in difficulty on the three courses. For those who remember the Humana, there isn't a Nickalus Course where you have to play guys.

Picking a rookie this year will be difficult. Jason Kokrak snuck into the top 10 as a rookie last season and he fits the mold of a bomber. That could mean that Luke List is a potential fit. Also consider that Russell Henley and Scott Langley had impressive U.S. Open performances as amateurs, both sharing 16th, on Pebble Beach in 2010, but the course set up was different. Ideally, I won't invest heavily in any rookie.

As I break this down, I will pay very little attention to statistics and dive into those who have an established course history and are currently in steady form. When I mentioned strategy above, that is mine.

Check back tomorrow for our power rankings, and also check out our post from a little earlier about our PGATOUR.com free private fantasy league.

Happy research!

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