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Fantasy Preview: 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

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It’s back out to California this week as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am gets underway. As always at this event, three courses will be used over the opening three days — Monterey, Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach — before the latter is played once more on Sunday.

With the alternating courses, Shotlink is only available for Pebble Beach, which provides difficulty in assessing course statistics and frustration following your picks for the week. As the event is a pro-am, you can also expect to see as many shots from the likes of Bill Murray, Ray Romano and Andy Garcia on television coverage over the opening few days as you will of the pros.

All three courses are short; none measure over 7,000 yards. That makes form with the short irons imperative. Some of the smallest greens on Tour are also on display this week, which means any mistakes with irons will provide players with a lot more work to do than usual around the greens. Last year, Jordan Spieth claimed the title, posting 19-under par, four shots clear of Kelly Kraft.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Dustin Johnson 11/2
  • Jason Day 10/1
  • Rory Mcilroy 10/1
  • Jon Rahm 10/1
  • Jordan Spieth 12/1
  • Gary Woodland 25/1
  • Phil Mickelson 28/1

Headlining my picks for this week is four-time champion Phil Mickelson (28/1, DK Price $9,600). The California native produced his best display of his year so far last week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, finishing T5. After his final round, he sounded very positive telling the media: “I think that my game’s gotten better each week, my focus is getting better each week. So I’m hoping that I continue to build on this. This shouldn’t just be a one-week deal. I should be getting better and better as the weeks go on.”

With his confidence clearly high at the moment, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am may have arrived at the perfect time for Lefty. Last week, Mickelson was T6 in the field for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green and third in Strokes Gained Putting.

Each course this week provides four Par 5’s, which players will need to take care of should they have hopes of claiming this championship. Mickelson will be very confident in doing so, as he comes into this event second in this field for Strokes Gained on Par 5’s over his last 24 rounds. Mickelson is also a fabulous putter on poa annua greens. Over his last 50 rounds on poa annua greens, he sits third in Strokes Gained Putting.

Despite beginning his year with a missed cut at the CareerBuilder and a T45 at The Farmers, Mickelson ranks second in this field for Strokes Gained Approaching the Green over his last 12 rounds and second in Strokes Gained Putting over the same period. At a course which Mickelson thrives on, there’s a sense that his game is rounding into shape to give him a great opportunity to win for the first time since 2013.

Another Pebble Beach specialist who I like this week is Brandt Snedeker (35/1, DK Price $8,100). The two-time champion has been slow to get back in the groove after his injury last year, but last week he recorded his best finish since his layoff. That should have him feeling good on his return to a place he loves.

Possessing one of the best short games in golf, it should be no surprise that Snedeker has excelled here. He’s second in this field for Strokes Gained Around the Green for his last 24 rounds and first for Strokes Gained: Short Game. His scrambling ability is something that makes him a specialist at this event, where getting the ball up and down around these small greens is vital.

His ability to score on short Par 4’s is another asset that he possesses. Over his past 24 rounds, Snedeker is No. 1 in this field for Efficiency on Par 4’s measuring between 350-400 yards and third in Proximity to the Hole for approaches between 125-150 yards — a yardage he will see plenty of this week. He finished fourth at this event last year, and barring an off week with his reliable wedge game and superb short game you can expect to see Snedeker in the hunt for title No. 3 here.

While Mickelson and Snedeker both have terrific records at Pebble Beach, my No. 3 pick is making his debut this week — and the fact that this is the first visit for Branden Grace (40/1, DK Price $9,100) is my only concern about him. It’s a surprise that this is his first trip to Pebble Beach, as it’s an event that should suit his game.

Grace possesses a very tidy short game — he sits 5th in this field for Strokes Gained Around the Green for his last 24 rounds — but it’s his performance on short-to-medium Par 4’s that grabbed my attention. His last 12 rounds on the PGA Tour at the end of last year see him ranked fourth in the field for Efficiency on Par 4’s between 350-400 yards and seventh on Par 4’s between 400-450 yards.

Grace is making his first start of the year on the PGA Tour, but he isn’t coming in cold. He has performed well to start his season on the European Tour, winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November and beginning 2018 with a solo second at his home event, the BMW SA Open.

Grace’s form at the RBC Heritage makes me believe that this event should match up very well for his type of game. Just like this week’s venue, Harbour Town Golf Links is a short links course that possesses some of the smallest greens on tour. It is also an event that can get windy like Pebble Beach can. Grace has a very impressive record at the RBC Heritage, with results of seventh, first, and 11th, and I believe his game should prove just as good a fit at Pebble Beach.

Recommended Plays

  • Phil Mickelson 28/1, DK Price $9,600
  • Brandt Snedeker 35/1, DK Price $8,100
  • Branden Grace 40/1, DK Price $9,100
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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Wyndham Championship

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After one of the most exciting Sunday’s of the golfing year, attention now turns towards the race for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and the quest to attain a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup. For the former, this week’s Wyndham Championship is the final opportunity for players to work their way into the top-125 in the FedEx Cup standings and earn a spot in the opening event of the playoffs. Despite many of the world’s elite understandably taking this week off, there are some big names in action here in Greensboro, with Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Webb Simpson all setting their sights on winning at Sedgefield Country Club this week.

Sedgefield CC is a relatively short par-70 golf course. It measures just over 7,100 yards, and it’s a golf course that doesn’t particularly favour the longer hitters. The rough is playable in Greensboro this week, and like most years at the Wyndham Championship, expect players who have their wedge game dialled in to thrive here at this event.

Last year, Henrik Stenson put on a ball striking clinic, posting 22-under par to win the title by one stroke over Ollie Schniederjans.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Webb Simpson 12/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama 16/1
  • Henrik Stenson 18/1
  • Rafa Cabrera Bello 22/1
  • Brandt Snedeker 22/1
  • Shane Lowry 25/1
  • Billy Horschel 28/1

It’s been a bit of a disappointing year for Daniel Berger (35/1, DK Price $9,300), but the Floridian showed some very promising signs at last week’s PGA Championship. After opening his PGA Championship with a very poor round of 73, Berger then shined over the next three days. The American posted three consecutive rounds under par, two of which were 66 or better. It was enough to give Berger a T12 finish and plenty of momentum heading to Greensboro this week.

In St. Louis last week, Berger lead the field for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, gaining an impressive 8.5 strokes over the field. It was the second best performance with his irons in his career, and at Sedgefield, Berger is going to have hole after hole where he can attack pins with his precise iron game. The two-time winner on the PGA Tour has had a quiet year, but in a weakened field, with plenty of question marks surrounding those at the top of the market, he has a superb opportunity for win number three here in Greensboro.

A T31 finish at the PGA Championship last week means that Chris Kirk (80/1, DK Price $7,500) has now made the cut in his last ten events. From these ten events, four have resulted in top-25 finishes, and Kirk has been hitting the ball particularly well as of late. Over his previous 12 rounds, Kirk ranks fifth in the field this week for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, 10th in ball striking and eight in Strokes Gained-Total.

Kirk will cost you just $7,500 on DraftKings, and looking at some of the players that are more expensive this week, he appears to be a bargain. Kirk is three for three in cuts made at the Wyndham Championship in his last three visits, and the four-time PGA Tour champion looks in excellent shape to mount his best challenge yet in Greensboro. Over his last 12 rounds, Kirk leads this week’s field for proximity to the hole, and on a golf course where flushing short irons to close range is going to be key, the American looks to offer some of the best value around this week.

With 17 out of 19 made cuts this year, and arriving off the back of a T12 finish in his last outing, Rory Sabbatini (75/1, DK Price $7,100) looks undervalued once again on DraftKings this week. Over his previous 12 rounds, Sabbatini ranks 24th in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green and 10th in Strokes Gained-Total. What’s more, is that Sabbatini is coming to a golf course that he has played very well in the past. In his last two visits to Sedgefield CC, the American has finished in the top-10 twice, with his best result coming last year when he finished T4. Coming off a strong showing in Canada, and with his proficiency in making cuts and excellent course history, Sabbatini looks a great DraftKings option here this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Daniel Berger 35/1, DK Price $9,300
  • Chris Kirk 80/1, DK Price $7,500
  • Rory Sabbatini 75/1, DK Price $7,100
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The 19th Hole: Katie Kearney’s Insights from Inside the Ropes with Tiger Woods on Sunday

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“Tiger made the other players disappear!” Golf correspondent, Instagram star and St. Louis native Katie Kearney describes what it was like to be inside the ropes at Bellerive on this week’s edition of the 19th Hole with Michael Williams. Also featured are Golf Channel Contributor Ron Sirak, and Chris McGinley of V1 Golf.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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The Gear Dive: A roundtable with Mike Taylor and the Artisan Golf team

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Artisan Golf’s Mike Taylor, Dave Richey and John Hatfield speak on what it’s like being at the forefront of the “craftsman” movement, Tommy Fleetwood’s Irons, Tiger’s Nike wedges, and working with Patrick Reed. Get all the latest Gear Dive info @thegeardive_golfwrx on Instagram.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

  • 3:30 — How it all started
  • 12:15 — Checks and Balances
  • 15:20 — The Importance of a proper wedge shaft
  • 20:15 — Taylor on the high-toe trend in wedges
  • 24:00 — Patrick Reed
  • 27:00 — Artisan Putters and what makes the different
  • 34:30 — Dave Richey advice to young club makers
  • 38:00 — Tommy Fleetwood’s last set
  • 39:30 — Tigers TaylorMade Gear, “no comment”
  • 44:15 — Getting used to IG and Social Media
  • 52:00 — Mike Taylor on the power of knowledge
  • 53:30 — Mike Taylor on bounce
  • 57:40 — Tiger’s new wedge grind to cure his yips
  • 63:55 — Roundtable Favorite track
  • 64:20 — Roundtable Dream foursome
  • 66:10 — Roundtable If you had to buy a wedge/putter/irons
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19th Hole

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