The change in gear between the Phoenix Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is always considerable. After the huge crowds and massive noise created at TPC Scottsdale comes the relative serenity of a pro-am tournament played over three courses on the Monterey Peninsula.
Brandt Snedeker is one player who particularly enjoys the trip to Pebble Beach Links. He has a very strong record in this tournament which will fill him with confidence as he goes in search of a 10th PGA Tour win.
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am is named after Pebble Beach Golf Links but that iconic venue is just one of three venues used for this historic tournament. Pebble Beach is the only course that the field will play more than once – providing they make the 54 hole cut. Its importance to American golf is made clear by the fact that last year’s US Open was the sixth to be hosted at Pebble Beach.
Pebble Beach is set up to play considerably easier than it was during Gary Woodland’s win last year but it is still a course that does have teeth, especially when the wind whips up. Thankfully for those in the field this week, there isn’t too much in the way of wind in the forecast even if it’s going to be fairly fresh across all three courses. Hitting the tiny greens is a real challenge, even from the fairways at Pebble, whilst the Poa Annua greens get bobbly and less predictable as the day goes on.
The challenges posed by Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club differ slightly from Pebble Beach but neither course is long and each of them reward high quality approach shots into some tricky greens.
|Pebble Beach GL||Pebble Beach,
|Spyglass Hill GC||6,953 Yards|
|Monterey Peninsula CC||6,958 Yards|
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am is not everybody’s cup of tea. Some find the slower pace of play a challenge whilst others enjoy more of an intense atmosphere. Those who do enjoy this tournament tend to return year on year, generally playing well. Thus, we’ve seen a number of multiple winners over the years including last year’s winner, Phil Mickelson, who has won this even an amazing five times.
From the list of most recent winners below, Brandt Snedekr is also a multiple winner with two wins whilst Jordan Spieth had strong results at Pebble Beach before his 2017 win.
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2019||Phil Mickelson||-19||3 Strokes|
|2018||Ted Potter Jr.||-17||3 Strokes|
|2017||Jordan Spieth||-19||4 Strokes|
|2016||Vaughn Taylor||-17||1 Stroke|
|2015||Brandt Snedeker||-22||3 Strokes|
Analysis: Proven Pebble Form a Must
This is a tournament with a unique feel to it so it is no surprise that those who have played well before have a good record when they return to the Monterey Peninsula. Whilst it is important to avoid making bogeys on the most challenging holes at all three courses, players who are comfortable taking a risk on the easier holes should navigate their way towards the top of the leaderboard. That’s especially true given the ease with which the courses are set up to aid the amateur competitors.
Snedeker to Bounce Back From Last Year
As a two time winner of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Brandt Snedeker is always enthused when this tournament swings back around. That’s still the case this year even though he missed the cut at the 2019 renewal. Snedeker also missed the cut last week at the Phoenix Open but the difference between that tournament and this week could hardly be more pronounced.
Snedker is an excellent links golf proponent. He has the control off the tee to put his ball in the right part of the fairways, is rock solid with this wedges and has been one of the best putters on the PGA Tour for a number of years. His unique style of putting is particularly effective on Poa Annua greens which he enjoys putting on as many of his competitors fear them.
Fresh from having the weekend off to get his body and mind ready for this week, Snedeker may well prove tough to beat at generous odds of 25/1 with Betfair.
McDowell Could Contend Again
Pebble Beach Golf Links is a particularly special place for Graeme McDowell. It’s the course at which he won his first, and so far only, major championship. He’s spoken recently about his desire to get back to the sort of levels he reached when winning the 2010 US Open and his rededication to his game bore fruit last week when he won the Saudi International.
McDowell is the sort of man who will have enjoyed his celebrations with friends and family after than win but that shouldn’t be too much of a concern this week. The laid back atmosphere of the Pebble Beach Pro Am and the confidence that his win in Saudi gave him could even see GMac contend and earn his each way backers a decent payout at 35/1 with bet365.
Final Verdict: Brandt Snedeker to Win
There are some big name players in the field for the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am who have had great success at Pebble Beach over the years. The resurgent Graeme McDowell is one of them and he deserves respect this year but the man the others may just find too good come Sunday is Brandt Snedeker at 25/1 with Betfair.
About the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am
Pebble Beach Golf Links, on the Monterey Peninsula in California, is one of the most iconic golf courses in the world. It’s up there with Augusta National and St Andrews as the sort of golf course that even people who don’t watch much golf have heard about and rightly so.
Pebble Beach actually shares numerous similarities with St Andrews. Both are on the rotation for their national championship (the U.S. Open and the Open Championship, respectively), both are coastal links courses and both host well regarded pro-am tournaments every year.
Just like St Andrews, Pebble Beach shares hosting duties for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am (sponsored by AT & T since 1986) with two other courses. It is the historic links which takes the host duties for the final round on Sunday for this incredibly long running and popular pro-am tournament.
Bing Leads the Stars
The first few editions of the tournament we now call the Pebble Beach Pro-Am didn’t actually take place at Pebble Beach. The tournament began life in 1937 as the Bing Crosby Pro-Am and was an immediate hit thanks to the star pulling power of its host, Bing Crosby.
There were very few people more famous or celebrated in the whole world than Bing Crosby back then. Such was his pulling power that he was able to attract several of the best players in the world and many other big stars to the inaugural edition which was known as the Crosby Clambake and was won by Sam Snead, the man who still holds the record for the highest number of wins on the PGA Tour.
That first edition was held over just 18 holes thanks to heavy rain making the first day a washout. It was played over 36 holes for the next five editions until a short hiatus for the Second World War, coming back as a 54-hole event in 1947. The format has been tweaked a number of times over the years and was eventually extended to four rounds with a cut falling after three days, when each pairing has played a round on the three host courses.
The legendary Snead dominated the early years of the event and would win the tournament three times before its suspension due to World War II before then adding a fourth crown in 1950. Snead’s tally of four wins is better than other multiple winners including Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Dustin Johnson. However, it is Mark O’Meara and Phil Mickelson who have the best tournament record with five wins apiece ahead of the 2021 tournament. In the below table you can see all the great players with three or more wins.
Comedian and White Christmas crooner Crosby loved hosting the tournament as much as the professionals loved playing it. Many big names from the worlds of sport, entertainment and business were also delighted to get the call to compete. Bill Murray, who played in 2020, is a regular, with both Eli and Peyton Manning also taking part that year. In the past NFL legends Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have teed it up for this one, as well as the likes of Kevin Costner and Justin Timberlake.
Bing (and his family after his death) remained the tournament hosts until 1986 whereby AT&T began their sponsorship and the name was changed to the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Two-time major champion Fuzzy Zoeller won that year, by which time the prize money had ballooned from £500 in the inaugural edition to a very handsome £108,000.
Players With The Most Wins
|Player||Number of Wins|
|Mark O’Meara||5 (1985, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997)|
|Phil Mickelson||5 (1998, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2019)|
|Sam Snead||4 (1937, 1938, 1941, 1950)|
|Jack Nicklaus||3 (1967, 1972, 1973)|
|Johnny Miller||3 (1974, 1987, 1994)|
Littler’s Unique Double
Many of the amateurs competing in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am fancy themselves as very good golfers. The likes of Murray, Timberlake and Tony Romo (the former Cowboys quarterback had a handicap of +3.3!) have impressed the galleries and those watching at home with the quality of their golf but nobody has managed to live up to the feat of Gene Littler.
Before embarking on a professional career which would see him win 54 times including the 1961 U.S. Open, Littler was one of the best amateur golfers in the world. He won the U.S. Amateur in 1953 and one year later won the Pebble Beach Pro-Am as a 23-year-old.
Following the end of three years’ service with the United States Navy, Littler turned pro and returned to Pebble Beach multiple times including in 1975 when he became the first player to win the tournament as both a professional and an amateur.
Low Score Needed
Due to the fact that amateurs are competing alongside the pros the courses are set up a little easier than they are for a regular tournament. That means that scoring is typically very low and although that can change if the weather plays up, generally speaking you want a player who is capable of firing in a lot of birdies.
Johnny Miller’s 1994 win was the last time a score single-digits under par was enough for glory. In 2015 Brandt Snedeker shot -22 to win, with the average score since then (including 2015) being a very, very low -18.83!