By News Team
9th February 2021
We’re in for a treat this week with one of golf’s best and most picturesque courses, Pebble Beach, hosting the Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The likes of Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods have all taken home the trophy in the past, so it’s a real feather in a player’s cap if they can emerge victorious here.
Here’s our preview ahead of Thursday’s opening round.
Count on Kevin
Short-priced favourite Dustin Johnson was a late withdrawal this week meaning the field has an open feel to it, with Patrick Cantlay now the 15/2 market leader.
He’s likely to go well, as may Jason Day whose recent form figures in this event read 4,11,5,2,4,4, so he’s worth a second look at 20/1. However, he looked properly out of sorts at Torrey Pines and last week in Phoenix, and two consecutive missed cuts is never an ideal prep. Instead, it could be worth siding with KEVIN STREELMAN at 35/1.
Like Day, the 42-year-old has taken a liking to this event with three top-sevens in his last three appearances, including finishing runner-up to Nick Taylor 12 months ago. He was the only player to record four scores in the 60s last year and perhaps what was even more interesting about that performance as well as the two previous is that he had showed little to no form before turning up here. In 2018, he finished in a tie for 40th in Phoenix, while he was 10 spots worse in 2019 and last year he missed the cut. However, he followed all three of those below-par showings with very good runs here, suggesting this is a course, that, for whatever reason, really suits the American’s eye.
It’s a similar story in 2021 with Streelman not showing an awful lot so far. He hadn’t had a top-25 since October last year, however, there were real signs in Phoenix last week that his game is trending in the right direction. He ranked eighth for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green and had it not been for a stone-cold putter (ranked 60th), he could have easily finished closer than he did. The fact he comes back to a course that he has flourished at in the past in better form than previously gives optimism that this could be the week Streelman wins a third PGA Tour title.
Berger given another go
Many fancied DANIEL BERGER for a bold showing in Phoenix last week, but he didn’t quite have it for whatever reason and eventually missed the cut. As mentioned, that’s never an ideal prep, but Berger has often followed a below-par showing with a good one, so in his case it might not be such a bad thing after all. In 2019, he missed the cut in Phoenix before finishing in a tie for second on his next start in Puerto Rico, while he followed a missed cut at last year’s Memorial Tournament with a tie for second at the WGC St. Jude Invitational, so there’s plenty to suggest he could bounce back here.
He also has a solid record in this event with two top-10s in his two starts, including a fifth-place finish in 2020. You don’t become a bad player overnight and prior to Phoenix, he’d finished 10th and seventh in his last two starts, so the game is clearly in pretty solid shape. Based on that as well as a very consistent last year or so, he’s the best bet at the head of the betting at 14/1.