The PGA TOUR visits one of the most iconic golf venues in the world this week — Pebble Beach Golf Links — and conducts one of the most popular events on its schedule with the playing of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, California.
Begun in 1937, the $7 million Pebble Beach Pro-Am features 156 professionals and 156 amateurs, many of them athletes and celebrities, playing not only at famed Pebble Beach, but also at Spyglass Hill and the Shore Course at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The top 60 pros and the top 25 pro-am teams advance to Sunday’s final round at Pebble Beach.
World No. 1 Jordan Spieth plays for the first time on the PGA TOUR since his eight-stroke victory in the first event of the year at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions. Spieth, who has made two starts abroad, is joined by No. 3 Jason Day and defending champion Brandt Snedeker, plus past champions such as Dustin Johnson and Phil Mickelson, a four-time winner. In all, 12 of the top 25 in the world are entered, including No. 6 Bubba Watson, who is returning for the first time since 2007.
Veteran CBS Sports on-course reporter Peter Kostis assesses this week’s potential story lines.
Obviously, we have to start by talking about the venue. Pebble Beach is an iconic golf course as part of a three-course rotation. What comes to mind first?
There’s no better place in the world for golf when the weather is good, and this week is supposed to be spectacular. So I look forward to a really exciting tournament with some potentially very good scoring.
Which course holds the most opportunity for scoring and is the key?
I think Pebble Beach is your best scoring opportunity. But Spyglass may allow you to separate yourself. If you can post a really good round at Spyglass Hill, you’re going to have a leg up on the field, because it’s a tough golf course. Monterey Peninsula is most exposed to the wind. You always hope to catch it on the right day. But the wind forecast is mild, so I think we might see record scoring if that holds.
The No. 1 player in the world is in the field, and he is a world-weary traveler. What do you look for from Jordan Spieth?
Well, he’s world-weary, and he’s a lot smarter because he’s already said he’s not doing that again. I guess you have to do it one time to realize it’s not a good idea. His major focus I would think is defending his Masters title, and he has plenty of time to recover for that. Jordan’s game revolves around his putting. He does everything really well, but he is phenomenal with the putter. These greens traditionally don’t reward good putters because they are difficult poa annua greens. We’ll see how he handles them.
That leads us to our next subject, which is another good putter, the defending champion Brandt Snedeker.
He just won on poa greens (at the Farmers Insurance Open) and in very windy conditions, so he is playing well. What he did on Sunday at Torrey Pines… forget the ball striking. His ball striking was obviously very good, but he was 14 for 14 on putts inside of 10 feet on those greens in that wind. I would say most players would be happy with 50 percent. So if he was only 50 percent, he loses the tournament by four shots instead of winning by one. He’s got to be one of the top picks.
Thanks for leading us into your picks for favorites and dark horses.
Well, beyond Jordan Spieth and Brandt Snedeker, I think you might look at Jason Day. You have to look at ball strikers, so Dustin Johnson, a past champion, is also to be considered. As far as a dark horse, Bryce Molder played well last week, and he has the kind of personality to handle all the challenges of this tournament. You have to put Phil Mickelson in that category. He’s played well here, he hasn’t won in a while, he’s working on a new swing… it would be interesting to see what he can do this week.
Journalist and author David Shedloski of Columbus, Ohio, has been covering golf since 1986, first as a daily newspaper reporter and later as a freelance writer for various magazines and Internet outlets. A winner of 23 national writing awards, including 20 for golf coverage, Shedloski is currently a contributing writer for Golf World and GolfDigest.com and serves as editorial director for The Memorial, the official magazine of the Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. He is the author of three books and has contributed to three others, including the second edition of “Golf For Dummies,” with Gary McCord. He’s a fan of all Cleveland professional sports teams, the poor fellow.