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Michael Taylor 9th Feb 2010 - 18:37

Bad weather is Dust-in time for Johnson

 

Dustin Johnson pulled off the best win of his life in last year's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and it seems the setting is now set for the first repeat tournament win of his career.

In an event known for rain delays Johnson was simply in a league of his own, dominating the shortened 54-hole tournament and eventually winning by a huge four shot margin.

His success was simple. He was big off the tee, hit nearly every green in regulation and his putter was warm enough to take advantage of his accuracy.

It was however the way he fought through the muddy fairways and rough that made the big South Carolinian the stand-out performer in 2009, and what could so easily lead to the same result this year.

The forecast for the weekend is good, the same cannot be said for Thursday and Friday though with intermittent showers expecting to cause all sorts of trouble for the smaller hitters in the field.

It's enough for me to look away from the likes of Jim Furyk at 18/1 and Mike Weir at 25/1 although neither of the aforementioned have done enough recently to suggest they're ready to get a first Tour win of 2010.

Another bonus for Johnson backers is that his third place in last week's Northern Trust Open represents his best showing of the year and he should arrive in Pebble Beach full of confidence especially since the absence of Steve Stricker means the true form player is out.

However you look at it though it would take a brave, brave man to lay Johnson at 18/1 with so much going in his favour.

Another I'll be seriously looking at this week is the pre-tournament favourite Phil Mickelson.

'Lefty' goes to Pebble Beach looking to avenge his slip down to third in the world rankings but few would back him to seriously challenge after a series of tepid performances this year.

The most disappointing of which for punters had to be at Riviera last week as he failed to ever challenge thanks to an untypically cold putter and a lack of bite around the greens.

Many saw Tiger's break from golf as the perfect chance for Mickelson to get close to his nemesis at the top of the rankings yet, if anything, he seems to have gone the other way and it's a problem he seriously needs to address with Woods' reappearance imminent.

The truth is though he couldn't have wished for a worse set of courses to attempt a return to his imperious best.

Over the past six rounds on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Lefty has failed to break 71 but then if anyone in this field can rise from the ashes to the top it's Mickelson.

After all he has won this event three times in the past, one of which saw him shoot a record tying twenty under par over the 72 holes back in 2007.

He's undeniably a huge risk at 8/1 but, if he shows a bit of his usual panache on the first morning, he may be worth an early in-play punt before his price comes crashing down.

Finally, for a bit of each-way value my last recommendation is Kevin Na at a brilliant 66/1.

The Korean-American has enjoyed a great start to 2010 by managing two top-10 finishes (Bob Hope Classic and Northern Trust Open) and making three from three cuts.

He may be lacking that killer instinct through all four rounds right now but I'm convinced he's shown the sort of concentration that can lead to good success over the next few months.

Na could come unstuck if the fairways don't allow much roll but, if he can get to the greens in regulation then just wait to see how good he is around the hole - definitely worth a few quid any way.

 

 
 
 

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