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24th April 2024 7:46 am

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THE PGA TOUR – THE AT&T PRO-AM AT PEBBLE BEACH 

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As you know, our correspondent Sandy Lane is permanently based in Barbados, where he busies himself on a range of important Island matters. His Christmases may all have just arrived at once, with the news that the PGA Tour and Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) have revealed a long-term Official Marketing Partnership this Monday that appoints BTMI as the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions’ Official Tourism Sponsor.  The agreement, through 2027, will see Barbados Tourism engage across the PGA Tour landscape, including through digital activations and creative content as well as at PGA Tour tournaments. The partnership will showcase Barbados as a world-class business, recreation and leisure destination.

Now if Sandy doesn’t get a few 18th Hole invites to the PGA box at the Masters I shall be very surprised. Huzzah. Sundowners all round. Meanwhile, this week, Sandy previews:…

THE AT&T PRO-AM AT PEBBLE BEACH 

It starts today – place your bets by 4.30 pm or bet in the running on Betfair.

The four PGA Tour events contested to date this year have proved to be minefields for punters, with winners priced at 125-1, 1000-1, 1000-1 again and 230-1 on Betfair’s pre-tournament first shows. Last week’s Farmers Insurance Open was won by Frenchman, Matthieu Pavon, who became only the second player in 55 years to succeed on debut. Our man, Tony Finau, was made favourite at one point on the front nine only for his wheels to fall off later. Still, he produced a place return by finishing 6th, thus becoming the third player among our weekly Big Five to make the frame, following Spieth (3rd in The Century) and An (2nd in the Sony, beaten in a play-off).

Onwards and upwards to the picturesque courses at Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill in Monterey, Northern California. The AT&T Pro-Am is a ‘Signature’ event, featuring the top players with increased prize money and FedEx Cup points. There will be no cut line and it will only be contested over the first two days by those irritating C-list ‘celebrities’. The high-class field for the 87th staging of the tournament will play the two courses in rotation on Thursday and Friday, with the event concluding at Pebble Beach (which has hosted 6 US Opens and one PGA Championship back in the day) over the weekend.

Pebble Beach features generous fairways but has the tiniest greens on the Tour. With wet and windy weather forecast, Spyglass Hill, with its largely sheltered tree-lined fairways, may see better scoring. Course form has been a feature of many winning players over the years, as has excellent putting. But the most important stat is hitting greens in regulation – fourteen of the last 17 champions figured in the top ten in this category. Bets should be placed by 4.30 pm on Thursday – most firms are offering a range of prices for up to 7 places (10 with Coral). With all this in mind, Sandy Lane presents his Big Five selections for this tournament. Name: [odds/1]

  • Victor Hovland [14/1]: Is there a better ball striker out there than the amiable World number 4 golfer? He will be ideally suited to the demands of this event – he finished 12th as an amateur in the US Open, and played at Pebble Beach  in 2019 – and will relish any bad weather
  • Jordan Spieth [16/1]: The 2017 winner, who has five other top tens in this event to his name, arrives rested after The Sentry and looks primed for a big win soon. He ticks all the Stats boxes in some style
  • Max Homa [18/1]: The California specialist has captured four wins in his home state since early 2021. He loves inclement weather and his good placing in the Farmers Insurance Open was an ideal prep for this tournament.
  • Patrick Cantlay [18/1]: First played here as a 12-year-old and loves the place. Tied 3rd in 2021 and tied 4th in 2022, he comes to life on the Poa Annua greens. His stats are a perfect fit.
  • Wyndham Clark [80/1]: A real outlier but you may remember him winning the US Open here last year. He makes lots of birdies and is way over-priced.

Throw in Kevin Yu [110/1], 7th here last year and in sparkling form recently and bet 1 point each way on all. Please note: keep an eye out for Byeong-Han An [45/1] after 54 holes. He’s in red-hot form and will love the weather if the forecast is correct.

Good Luck – Sandy Lane

Postscript: Captain Kneesup will also be having a little pop at Matt Fitzpatrick: [35/1] – loves rough weather, such as last year’s RBC Heritage, at Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina (where he beat Spieth in a playoff). Won the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews last October, and he thrives on courses with small green complexes. Pebble Beach, Harbour Town, and The Country Club (site of the 2022 U.S. Open) have the smallest greens on tour, and Fitzpatrick has won recently at the latter two and a top-5 finish at 7/1 seems decent.

 

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