Starts - 11th February 2021
Course - Pebble Beach Golf Links & Spyglass Hill CC
Par -Both 72
Length – 7,051 and 7,041 yards
2020 Champion: Nick Taylor
Overall Profit/Loss: +10.2pts
Pre-Event Bets: +6pts
0.5ptsEW Nate Lashley (1/5 1-8) - 150/1 @ William Hill
0.5ptsEW Andrew Putnam(1/5 1-8) - 100/1 @ William Hill
0.75ptsEW Scott Stallings (1/5 1-8) - 80/1 @ Bet365
0.5pts EW Troy Merritt (1/5 1-8) - 150/1 @ Skybet
0.5pts EW Kelly Kraft (1/5 1-8) - 400/1 @ Bet365
0.25ptsEW Sung Kang (1/5 1-8) - 350/1 @ Bet365
1pt Kyle Stanley Top 20 Finish - 9/2 @ Betfair
1pt Chesson Hadley Top 20 Finish - 5/1 @ William Hill
0.75pts EW Ben Martin FRL (1/4 1-5) - 66/1 @ Ladbrokes
In-Play Bets: +4.2pts
12 February 2021 (-2.5pts)
0.75ptsEW Tom Lewis (1/5 1-5) - 80/1 @ BetVictor
0.5ptsEW Tom Hoge (1/5 1-5) - 125/1 @ Spreadex
13 February 2021 (+9.7pts)
1pt EW Maverick McNealy (1/5 1-4) - 66/1 @ Bet365
0.5ptsEW Branden Grace (1/5 1-4) - 300/1 @ Bet365
0.25ptsEW Scott Brown (1/5 1-4) - 400/1 @ Betfair
1pt Scott Brown Top 10 finish - 13/1 @ Betfair
14 February 2021 (-3pts)
1pt Paul Casey WIN ONLY - 14/1 @ William Hill
2pts Kevin Streelman Top 10 finish - 8/1 @ William Hill
Course Notes 2021
There was no wind in round one which meant Pebble Beach played significantly easier than Spyglass Hillls. The wind was then up on Friday which meant Pebble played just as hard as Spyglass. You want to play Pebble when its calm.
Saturday was the windiest day and no one shot lower than 68.
High Quality Leaderboard
Five of the six pre-event favourites - Cantlay, Berger, Casey, Spieth and Day were all within 3 of the lead heading into the final round.
Course Designer: Pebble - Jack Neville/Douglas Grant. Spyglass - Robert Trent Jones Snr
Tournament played here since: 1947
Type of Course: Coastal
Greens: Poa Annua, 12 on the Stimp
Water Hazards: The sea is in play on a number of holes
Par 5's: 2nd, 6th, 14th and 18th on Pebble
Premium on: Approach play
Significant Info To Be Aware Of
This event is normally a pro-am with pros playing with amateur partners. However, due to Covid, amateurs will not take part this year. As such, the event will feature a 36 hole cut instead of 54 holes and only two courses (Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill) will be used rather than the usual three. The pros will play both courses over the first two days, with the final two rounds played at Pebble Beach.
The weather can make a significant difference. Pebble Beach is more exposed to the wind than Spyglass. Last year Spyglass averaged 0.877 shots over par for the week. Pebble averaged under par for the first three days but over par on the final day when the wind blew significantly.
With no amateurs we may see harder pin positions.
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
Has ranged from -17 to -19 over the past five years. Scoring is likely to be higher this year as Monterrey Peninsula Country Club is not being used and this is traditionally the easier of the three normal courses.
Price of Winner
We've had some big price winners here. Nick Taylor won last year when starting at 150/1+. Ted Potter Jr and Vaughn Taylor were shock winners in 2016 and 2018 also.
The Travelers Championship seems to throw up a number of players who perform well at both events. The courses are not alike so this may just be a coincidence. Look for success at other coastal venues (Sony, RBC Heritage, Puntacana, Mayakoba etc).
The past 11 champions have all posted a top 21 finish here prior to winning. Ten of the 11 past champions posted a top 16 finish prior to winning. Side with strong course experience.
You don't need to be in blistering form to win. Although Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson won having recorded top 5 finishes earlier that season, three of the past five champions had not posted a top 30 finish in the calendar year prior to winning.
Of the last 16 champions, only Nick Taylor's win last year prevents it from being a clean sweep of Americans.
With shotlink data only available for the rounds at Pebble Beach, we use more traditional stats.
The last five winners have ranked 17th, 121st, 25th, 23rd and 82nd. Driving Accuracy preferred but not essential.
Only one of the last five winners has ranked better than 60th in this category. Driving Distance is irrelevant.
Greens in Regulation
Three of the past five winners have ranked 8th, 8th, 19th, 3rd and 3rd. Approach play is key.
None of the past three winners have ranked better than 25th for Scrambling.
The past five winners have ranked 2nd, 4th, 7th, 2nd and 3rd. Ability to putt well on Poa greens is crucial.
The 18th hole at Pebble Beach was the hardest par 5 on the PGA Tour last year, and the par 5 first hole at Spyglass was the 2nd hardest par 5. In general, the 6th hole at Spyglass traditionally plays the hardest and the 8th at Pebble Beach.
Holes 7 and 17 on Spyglass and holes 2 and 6 on Pebble.
As mentioned, the 18th at Pebble is a really difficult hole and will be more so with a strong wind forecast. A par is no certainty on a Sunday.
Fast or Slow Start
Three of the last five champions have been 1st or 2nd after the first round. Ted Potter shot a 68 and was three off the pace in 2018. Vaughn Taylor shot 70 and was seven shots off the pace in 2016. Fast starts preferred.
0.5pts Each Way Andrew Putnam 100/1 @ William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Andrew was as high as 43 in the world rankings in 2019. He struggled in 2020 but appears to be coming back strongly in 2021. 21st and 7th his last two starts were a strong showing, particularly as he went bogey free last week in Phoenix. He hasn't done much in three outings at this event previously but good results at coastal tracks suggest better to come. Both his PGA Tour win in 2018 and his Korn Ferry Tour win in 2017 were preceded by a top 7 finish. Let's take the hint!
0.5pts Each Way Nate Lashley 150/1 @ William Hill (1/5 1-8)
A PGA Tour winner in 2019, he placed 28th when the US Open was held here in 2019 (the week before he won incidentally). He had an encouraging 17th place finish last week where he was 6th for SG:Approach. His record in this event isn't anything to shout about but it's notable that his performances at Pebble Beach itself have been good (three rounds played with a cumulative score of -7) . Finally, his record at coastal venues is excellent even if it hasn't quite clicked at this event in the past.
0.75pts Each Way Scott Stallings 80/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1-8)
Scott has a rock solid record at this event having finished 14th, 7th and 3rd between 2017-2019. A 36th place finish last week was a nice warm up, with every part of his game in fine fettle. A terrible day on the greens on day two (he lost over 4 shots that day) meant he finished 59th SG: Putting but had he putted better that day he would have ranked inside the top 40 across all Strokes Gained stats. It's easy to forget he's a three time winner on the PGA Tour and there's nobody in this field that should intimidate him.
0.5pts Each Way Troy Merritt 175/1 @ Skybet (1/5 1-8)
Troy missed his first six cuts in this event, but seems to have found the secret with top 25 finishes in his last two starts here. When asked in 2018 why he had missed so many cuts, he stated, “I always have a good feeling when I come here, I love these three courses, but I just haven't made any cuts.” He's priced at 175/1 to reflect the poor form he's shown so far this year but he's a player who tends to post a big finish on the back of missed cuts. His last five top 10s have come following missed cuts or finishes no better than 60th. He's a two time winner on the PGA Tour and is more than capable of getting himself into contention this week.
0.25pts Each Way Sung Kang 350/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1-8)
A fine wind player, Sung has a couple of top 20 finishes in this event already and is worth chancing for small stakes. Although his recent form has been poor, he is world number 108 and it was only a few months ago he posted a top 30 at the Masters. He missed the cut last week but a 2nd round 68 will hopefully give him some momentum to carry into this week. It's possible that he will also be inspired by compatriot K H Lee, who finished 2nd last week. A PGA Tour winner in 2019, he's capable of winning again if he can string four rounds together.
0.5pts Each Way Kelly Kraft 400/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1-8)
We were surprised to see Kelly chalked up as high as 400/1 and as such we are playing him 0.5pts each way. Runner up here in 2017, he missed the majority of the 2020 season due to injury. He's now fit again and although he has started 2021 slowly in terms of results, his stats have been encouraging. He ranked 23rd SG: Approach last week for the two rounds he played before missing the cut. The week prior he ranked 29th in that category. He was a runner up on the PGA Tour in 2017, 2018 and 2019 so he's more than capable of posting an each way finish, if not a win.
1pt Kyle Stanley Top 20 – 9/2 @ Betfair
Kyle has a poor record here but his play over the past couple of weeks makes him a solid top 20 play. He has ranked 6th and 10th the past two weeks for SG: Tee to Green and if he brings that level of performance this week he won't be too far off the top 20. His best finishes last year came at the RSM Classic and the Puerto Rico Open so a little bit of wind this week won't faze him.
1pt Chesson Hadley Top 20 - 5/1 @ William Hill
Chesson describes this course as his “favourite course ever” so it's little wonder he has a fantastic record here. Three top 20 finishes in this event from six starts and a 9th place finish at the 2019 US Open held at Pebble Beach show you how much he enjoys it here. He recently became a father for the third time and that may account for several missed cuts so far this year. However, returning to Pebble should see him back in the groove and he's more than capable of a top 20 this week.
0.75pts Each Way Ben Martin First Round Leader at Spyglass Hill - 66/1 @ Ladbrokes (1/4 1-5)
Ben has an outstanding record at Spyglass Hill. His last three rounds here are all under par and total -11. Two of those rounds were bogey free and the other had a solitary bogey. To put that in context, this traditionally plays as the hardest course at this event. He has only made one start so far this year (The American Express) but he got off to a fast start there, placing 6th after round one. Finally, he has a nice early tee time (2nd tee time) so he'll have the best of the greens and conditions. Of you can't get the 66/1 the 60/1 generally available is still very fair given only 78 players play Spyglass Hill in round one and at least a dozen of them have no chance.
14 February 11.25pm
After 15 holes yesterday, Jordan Spieth sat two shots behind leaders Berger and Lashley before a remarkable sequence of events put him two clear at the top and made him 15/8 favourite.
It started with Spieth holing out from 160 yards on the 16th. The celebrations were muted but the leaders acted like they could hear the roars. Nate Lashley proceeded to three putt on 17 before taking a trip to the beach on 18 to finish bogey bogey. Daniel Berger then hit his drive out of bounds on 18, resulting in a double bogey and all of a sudden Spieth had a nice cushion.
From an entertainment perspective, this is the best possible scenario, and when Spieth is involved we can always expect some drama. It is also arguably a great betting angle as the pressure on him could easily lead to an off the pace winner. As mentioned in yesterday's blog, he is heavily under the microscope and the bogey on the par 5 2nd was a prime example.
Putting bets aside, I'm sure most golf fans would love to see Jordan get it done today. However, the last three times he had a chance of winning he flattered to deceive. Our player profile shows he currently rates two stars in contention and we think he is likely to be caught.
The bookmakers rate Patrick Cantlay and Daniel Berger as the obvious candidates to topple him at 7/2 and 11/2 respectively - and both are in with a great chance. Cantlay's performance at the American Express from off the pace was eye catching and he is the most likely. Berger let us down massively at the Tournament of Champions with a final round 72, and although he is more than capable of bouncing back, it's enough to put us off.
Our pre-event 150/1 pick Nate Lashley is still right in this (despite the sloppy finish) if he can play a similar tee to green game as yesterday (except the 18th). We also have Hoge in-play at 125/1 but his performance once he hit the front at halfway was alarming. We're more hopeful than optimistic on that one. Knox hasn't won since 2018 but we should remember he is a WGC champion in 2015. Further danger lurks at -10 with Paul Casey and Jason Day both at 14/1 to nick the title.
The wind looks set to be 12-15mph which will be enough to cause some mistakes but there shouldn't be complete havoc.
- 1pt PAUL CASEY 14/1 @ William Hill (Win Only)
Given our uncertainties with the front three in the market, we were keen to get either Jason Day or Paul Casey onside as they both rank highly in our pressure performance ratings. Casey gets the nod based on his confidence levels and the fact he is not far off his starting price despite being 3 off the lead. He has played the 5th hole in three over par but apart from that he is bogey free at Pebble Beach. Ranks 3rd for GIR. One look at his pressure performance rating points a to a big Sunday and he can't be left out of the staking plan.
- 2pts KEVIN STREELMAN Top 5 Finish 8/1 @ William Hill
Kevin is 8 under par, five shots back of Spieth in 13th place. He is three off 2nd place and will have his work cut out but our player profile lists him as a notoriously fast finisher. The profile also mentions he builds up to big finishes in his 3rd or 4th start, which would make sense here as he arrives for his 4th consecutive event in trending form of MC-37-22. Furthermore, he shot a final round 68 here last year to finish 2nd so will have great Sunday memories to feed off. Stats are great, ranking 5th for GIR and making up strokes in every department, and he has only made one bogey all week. We were tempted to put him up in the outright market at 100/1 and wouldn't put you off a small play in the hope that Spieth collapses, but will play it safe and take the 8/1 on offer at Hills for a top 5.
13 February 12.05pm
Jordan Spieth has continued his resurrection from last week and holds a one shot lead over Daniel Berger. Round one leader Patrick Cantlay could only manage a one over par 73 and is now three back. The draw bias from day one is still evident as only Berger and Paul Casey played Pebble Beach yesterday out of the top 14.
The remaining two rounds are at Pebble Beach. Given the strength of the field, the leaderboard is unusually strong. The four market favourites after DJ's withdrawal are all placed in the top 5, and usually that would give us little hope of an outsider coming through to challenge.
However, there is reason to believe the leaders are worth taking on. Firstly, the wind is set to blow hard today and enough to cause trouble tomorrow. It is likely someone from the chasing pack will still manage a 67/68 and the leaders will tread water if not go backwards.
Secondly, we have niggling doubts about the leaders. Spieth is under intense scrutiny at the moment and a halfway lead will mean a prolonged period of pressure. Berger is the most likely winner in our eyes but he can't continue to hole the putts/chips he did yesterday. Norlander is seeking his first win, Cantlay is hit and miss in contention, and Casey is now playing his 4th week in a row and must be running on low.
Lastly, big comebacks have happened twice in the last five years. In 2018, Ted Potter Jr was eight back at halfway. In 2016, Vaughn Taylor was six back. A closer look at the weather forecast shows the wind gets stronger as the day goes on, so we are having a play on a few possible movers who can take advantage of an early start.
- 1pt Each Way MAVERICK McNEALY 66/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1,2,3,4)
Maverick is five back at -7 following two steady rounds. He has had a slow start to the season but a return to Pebble Beach appears to have boosted him. Last season, he finished 5th here which was his best result of the year. He played the weekend in 66/68 which bodes well for his chances. The 68 on Sunday at Pebble Beach was particularly impressive in strong 15-25mph winds, similar to the ones we will see this weekend. A 7th place finish at Barracuda last year also shows his liking for Poa Annua greens.
- 0.5pts Each Way BRANDEN GRACE 300/1 @ Bet365 (1/5 1,2,3,4)
Branden was left off the initial staking plan due to concerns over how he will react from the recent passing of his father. He has started positively and sits at -4 after a 69 at Pebble yesterday. With the wind due to be a big factor he has the perfect game to make a move up the leaderboard from a nice early tee time. There is also some value in 9/1 for a top 10 if you want a safer play, but at 300/1 with his pedigree we will take the further risk that he can get into contention for Sunday.
- 0.25pts Each Way SCOTT BROWN 400/1 @ Betfair (1/5 1,2,3,4)
- 1pt SCOTT BROWN Top 10 Finish 13/1 @ Betfair
Scott often appears from absolutely nowhere once or twice every season as we saw last year at the Genesis Open where he finished 2nd in a high class field. The wind was a factor that weekend, as it was at the Valero Texas Open and Farmers Insurance Open for two of his top 10's in 2019. He is currently -5, which is only two shots off 8th place, and he also has a nice early tee time. Take him top 10, and is also worth a very small play outright.
12 February 11.00
Patrick Cantlay leads after day one with an effortless 62 at Pebble Beach. The pre-tournament favourite looked fantastic with no breeze to defend the course and is now best price 7/4 to convert. Unsurprisingly, the scoring at Pebble Beach was low and nine of the top 10 on the leaderboard played there yesterday. Will Gordon was the best placed of those that played Spyglass Hill, shooting 6 under par.
The conditions may have been benign yesterday (pgatour.com registered the wind as 0mph!) but it will be very different the next three days. With the wind set to be around 12mph today, 20mph on Saturday and 17mph on Sunday, we are going to see higher scoring for the remainder of the tournament. With conditions set to be tricky, it is far too early to be taking the 7/4 on Cantlay.
Jordan Spieth's revival continued yesterday, his fine iron play carrying over from Phoenix. His driving remains wayward on occasion but he's certainly showing signs he's on the way back.
We have a couple of pre-event selections off to promising starts. Most prominent is 150/1 Nate Lashley, who finds himself only three off the lead.
Weather conditions today will be sunny spells and winds of 12/13 mph.
- 0.75pts Each Way TOM LEWIS 80/1 @ BetVictor (1/5 1,2,3,4,5)
With European style conditions forecast over the weekend we want to get Tom onside. A fine wind player, he will relish the opportunity to play Pebble Beach over the weekend in the forecasted breezy conditions. He hasn't played this event before but that clearly didn't matter yesterday as he ranked 3rd SG: Tee to Green. Tom is a multiple winner on the European Tour, a Korn Ferry Tour winner and has a 2nd place at a WGC event, he's good enough to win here.
- 0.5pts Each Way TOM HOGE 125/1 @ Spreadex (1/5 1,2,3,4,5)
Tom is another player who is good in the wind having posted good finishes at coastal events like the Sony Open and Mayakoba Classic. He posted 5 under par yesterday at Pebble Beach, a solid start to the tournament. In doing so he ranked 8th SG: Tee to Green. His ability to finish the job on a Sunday is sometimes called into question but a windy event like this could suit him as he seeks his first PGA Tour win. In windy conditions we often see players come from behind on Sunday, posting a score and the leaders falter. Let's hope this is the case for Tom!