Dramatic scene change at Pebble Beach

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Whereas last week’s raucous crowds at TPC Scottsdale stole a majority of the spotlight from Rickie Fowler’s victory on the PGA Tour, this week’s event, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, is all about the peace and tranquility of famed Pebble Beach.

This week’s California stop will still get its share of fans and excitement as the entry list is a who’s who of star-studded excellence.

Take Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Phil Mickelson as examples. This trio finished tied for second last year, three shots behind winner Ted Potter Jr.

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If you’re a golf fan, Potter Jr. (125-1 to win this year) isn’t your typical pick when looking for a betting winner. In fact, last year’s victory was just his second win on Tour, his first coming at The Greenbrier Classic in 2012. But the long odds will entice some bettors who like to back the defending champ.

But we are going toss him out this week and give a hard look at Johnson, Day and Mickelson.

Day is the pick for us this week at (9-1). He skipped last week’s party in Scottsdale but finished fifth in his previous start two weeks ago at The Farmers Insurance Open. Over the past four Pebble Beach events, Day (T2, T5, T11 and T4) has been right there at the end with a chance to win.

Johnson (the betting favorite at 5-1) is coming off a two-stroke victory at the Saudi International. That’s the good news. The bad news is he had a long flight back to the states and a quick turnaround for this week.

Granted, the flight wasn’t in a middle seat in coach but it’s still going to give him a little battle with jetlag. Johnson (T2, solo 3rd, T41, T4) has lurked near the top of the leaderboard here early and often and has won twice in previous years. But will he be fresh enough to contend? Might need to be a little cautious.

Then comes Mickelson (25-1). Fresh off a missed cut at one of his favorite stops in Scottsdale, everyone’s got to be wondering: Which Mickelson will show up? Will it be the one who has just missed a cut or the one who’s won four times at this event? We’d love to back Lefty, but we’ll take a pass on him this week although knowing his work ethic, the extra two days to travel back to California and work on his game might make us regret that non-pick.

One long shot (O.K., longer shot): Matt Kuchar (20-1). He doesn’t have the best record here, but there’s no hotter player on Tour right now. He’s coming off a decent week in Scottsdale (despite a final round stumble) and he’s already got two wins in the wraparound season. His laid-back attitude fits perfectly with the Pebble Beach vibe. There’s no reason he won’t be lurking atop near the top come Sunday – again.

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About the Author
Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman

Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has more than 40 years in the sports-writing business. He's spent the past 18-plus years covering the golf scene in Vegas including 10 years as a writer/editor with VegasGolfer Magazine. He also contributes to the GolfNow Network of websites and Las Vegas Golf Insider.

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