This week's format is essentially identical to the Humana Challenge, with three courses utilized over the first 54 holes and the final round taking place at Pebble Beach on Sunday. Also similar to the Humana, the cut will occur after 54 holes.
Though celebrities and other amateurs populate the field, the AT&T doesn't generally turn into a birdie binge. For starters, the greens are small and their surface is poa annua. Add to that, the wind can become a factor off the Carmel Bay, whereas PGA West was essentially played in a dome.
The courses in play are Pebble Beach (PB), Spyglass Hill (SH) and Monterey Peninsula (MP). Pebble and Spyglass each play to a par of 72, featuring four par 5s and four par 3s, with MP a par 70 with three par 5s and five par 3s.
Due to some of the intricacies with the courses themselves (small greens, poa annua, potential for wind) as well as the pro-am format, I'm inclined to give a stronger look towards course history. Here are the champions and runners-up dating back to 2005.
- 2005 - Winner: Phil Mickelson; Runner-up: Mike Weir
- 2006 - Winner: Arron Oberholser; Runner-up: Rory Sabbatini
- 2007 - Winner: Phil Mickelson; Runner-up: Kevin Sutherland
- 2008 - Winner: Steve Lowery (Playoff); Runner-up: Vijay Singh
- 2009 - Winner: Dustin Johnson; Runner-up: Mike Weir
- 2010 - Winner: Dustin Johnson; Runners-up: David Duval and J.B. Holmes
- 2011 - Winner: D.A. Points; Runner-up: Hunter Mahan
- 2012 - Winner: Phil Mickelson; Runner-up: Charlie Wi
- 2013 - Winner: Brandt Snedeker; Runner-up: Chris Kirk
So what stands out about this list? A few things:
- Even though the courses aren't long, players with some length and aggression are routinely rewarded. Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson obviously jump off the page, but so do Hunter Mahan J.B. Holmes and Vijay Singh as runners-up.
- Strong putters are showing up. Brandt Snedeker, Chris Kirk and Charlie Wi all fit that bill.
- There is a strong veteran presence. In addition to guys like Mickelson and Singh, Kevin Sutherland and Steve Lowery each did some work later in their careers.
- Mike Weir's accuracy in his prime put him in contention here. Rory Sabbatini is a noted wind player. Oberholser grew up near this course and showed up frequently on these leaderboards when healthy.
I'll likely work this tournament a little differently than some of the recent ones. Rather than start with form and moving on to history, I'll start this one by looking back at the last three-to-five AT&T leaderboards and trying to match that list with players in good form.
One final thought. Feel free to take a peek at the 2010 U.S. Open, contested at Pebble Beach, if you come across a guy that lacks history in the AT&T but may have teed it up in the Open.
We will return with a power ranking tomorrow. Until then, happy research!