AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Tournament Preview

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am 2021 Tournament Preview: Everything You Need To Know To Prepare For This Event and Its New Format

Or better yet, let’s just call it the 2021 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro. For the first time ever, this event will be played without the Amateurs due to COVID safety precautions. Seriously, they’re not gonna change the name of this event? If the Catalina Wine Mixer was not serving wine for the first time ever, I’m pretty sure they’d call it the Catalina Mixer. But nonetheless, I’m excited to be back at Pebble Beach, and with Monterey Peninsula CC removed from the usual 3-course rotation, we’ll get to see 3 full rounds on Pebble this go around.

With all the first-time alterations to this event, it’s going to be an unusual one to handicap. Luckily for you, I’ve done all the dirty work already. Let’s hop into it!

Course Specs

  • Yards (Pebble Beach): 7,060
  • Yards (Spyglass): 7,035
  • Par (Pebble Beach): 71 (4x 3’s / 11x 4’s / 3x 5’s)
  • Par (Spyglass): 72 (4x 3’s / 12x 4’s / 4x 5’s)
  • Greens: Poa
  • Comp Courses (Pebble Beach): Shadow Creek, Olympia Fields, La Quinta CC, Winged Foot
  • Comp Courses (Spyglass): Plantation Course at Kapalua, Torrey Pines (North), Country Club of Jackson, Silverado Resort & Spa
  • Past Winners: Nick Taylor (20), Phil Mickelson (19), Ted Potter (18), Jordan Spieth (17), Vaughn Taylor (16)
  • Other Past Winners In The Field: Brandt Snedeker, Jimmy Walker, D.A. Points, Dustin Johnson

So off the bat, two big changes this year are the removal of Amateurs from the event, and the removal of the Monterey Peninsula CC from the usual 3-course rotation. Instead, the 154-man Field will rotate between Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill GC Thursday and Friday. From there, the Top-65 and ties will move on to play Pebble Beach both weekend rounds. These alterations mirror exactly how PGA West pivoted their usual 3-course Pro-Am set up a few weeks back at The American Express.

Note that when looking back at previous performances, only rounds on Pebble Beach feature ShotLink Strokes Gained data. In case you’re looking back at past results and scratching your head about how HVIII, Sungjae Im, and Patrick Rodgers each Gained 4+ Total Strokes in recent years and still missed the cut, that’s your reason! Fortunately for this year however, 3/4 rounds will be played on Pebble Beach, so we can benchmark past performance here as the basis of our research. If you’re looking at general SG: TOT for this event, you’re going to want to remove performance on Monterey Peninsula. A few players who have had strong performance on that track, which may overshadow their otherwise poor play at Pebble and Spyglass: Brian Gay, Sung Kang, Brice Garnett, Cameron Percy, Andrew Putnam, Ricky Barnes, and Xinjun Zhang. In terms of past history, we can also include performance at the 2019 US Open, as that featured a full 4 rounds at Pebble, albeit under a much more difficult layout.

The pedigree of past winners at this event is nowhere near the echelon of last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, which in theory opens the door for bottom of the board longshots. That said, they’ll have to take down a hot Dustin Johnson this week, whose Course History is as strong as anyone’s in this Field, including 2 Wins and 2 Runner-Ups since 2009 at this event. Phil Mickelson is also a known Pebble Beach assassin with 4 career wins here and 2 Runner-Ups. Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, and Kevin Streelman also lead this Field with consistently strong finishes.

Key Stats

  • SG: Approach
  • GIRs Gained
  • SG: Short Game
  • SG: P (Poa)
  • Proximity 100-125, 200+
  • 3-Putt Avoidance
  • Course History (Pebble Beach)

Stats To Avoid

  • Driving Distance
  • SG: OTT
  • SG: TOT Course History

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a pure Poa track. Torrey Pines South was our last look at Poa greens, but with only one round played and no ShotLink SG data, we have to go all the way back to the Safeway Open at Silverado to glean insights on recent Poa performance.

On paper Pebble Beach looks like a short track at just 7,060 yards, but bearing in mind this is a Par 71 that includes an infamous 100 yard Par 3, the remaining Par 4 and 5s are still plenty long. Even still, the contouring angles in this course layout will have many players keep the Driver in the bag more often than usual in order to position their second shot approaches. As always, distance makes things easier; if everyone’s laying up a 180 yard second shot, your chances to hold these greens are better with a wedge in hand than a mid-iron. That said, you’ll want to target players you can rely on to club down for accuracy off the tee. That type of discretion has allowed veterans like Phil Mickelson, Ted Potter, Vaughn Taylor and Jimmy Walker to win here in recent years.

As long as players aren’t overly aggressive, Pebble Beach should level the playing field off the tee this week and demand top Approach and Short Game to contend. I’m going to be looking for veteran fairway finders this week capable of hitting Greens In Regulation at a high clip and Scrambling when they need to.

What To Look Out For at the 2021 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

The biggest storyline this week is going to be what to do with Jordan Spieth. Early signs for me point to this being another fade week. The Waste Management Phoenix Open, albeit subdued compared to its usual glory, was the first event since the COVID restart to feature crowds. Spieth being the cerebral over-thinker that he is, I think he needed the distraction of a crowd to get out of his own head. Yes, his Course History here is great, but I need to see him follow up last week’s performance in a no-crowd event before I start subscribing to the notion that the Jordan Spieth that won here in 2017 is back again.

If not for Spieth’s sudden comeuppance last week, I was prepared to say that none of the players with strong Course History here (Phil, Day, Streelman, Reavie) come in particularly hot. Even Nick Taylor, who dominated the event last year thanks to a slew of chip-ins, is not somebody I’m jumping to have exposure to.

Dustin Johnson seems to be the only free square of elite Course History and Recent Form, and I plan to be very over-weight on him in DFS, despite his historical Putting shortcomings on Poa and the presumptive jet-lag from his trip back from Saudi Arabia.