AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Pebble Beach Golf Links, Pebble Beach, California J.B. Holmes shocked the golfing world with a runaway win at the FBR Open last week. He came in ranked 464th in the world but his second top ten of the season will certainly draw some attention his way. On the 18th last Sunday, he bombed a 354-yard drive to the delight of the spectators and if anyone saw him after that shot, they saw a young man shaking like a first time winner should be. It's on to California this week and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am where Phil Mickelson will try to defend a title for a second straight week.
Big hitters have fared well in this event in recent years and this year should be no exception once again. Weather is always a big factor, namely wind, but the outlook is good this coming week for the three courses taking part - Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills. Mickelson started last year with an opening round 62 at Spyglass and never looked back. He took a seven stroke lead into Sunday and even a one-over 73 on the final day gave him a four-stroke win. Lefty has won this event twice and has four top three finishes in the past eight years so he is the favorite for the second straight week for good reason. There is another lefty that has also fared well here but has yet to break through.
Mike Weir should be in the mix once again this year. He has finished eighth or better in five of his last six appearances, including second last year, fourth in 2004 and third in 2003. Seventeen of his last 24 rounds have been under par.
Over the past 10 years, Weir has the highest percentage of top tens to starts at 62.5 percent (5-8) bettering Vijay Singh (5-9) and Aaron Oberholser (2-4) as the only players above 50 percent. One name that jumps out is Mark O'Meara who has won at Pebble a record five times.
The problem is that O'Meara is not exactly lighting things up as he hasn't won here since 1997 and hasn't won on tour since the 1998 British Open. Since that win in '97, O'Meara has finished no better than 15th, has finished 51st or worse six times and has only four rounds in the 60's. He had a 16th place finish at the Buick two weeks ago so who knows. Singh is never out of contention it seems and even though his 20th place finish at the FBR was his first out of the top ten this season, he is another player who fares well at Pebble. He has the best scoring average over the last 10 years at 70.03 and he has finished first or second in three of his last six starts here.
He did miss the cut last year following his win 2004 by three shots over Jeff Maggert. Even though the scoring averages are rather high, the winning scores have not. Mickelson won with a -19 last year, one off the tournament record set by O'Meara and the last 10 winners have all finished -10 or better. This has been the year of the rookie so far this season with unknowns such as Holmes, Bubba Watson and Nathan Green making noise.
Watson, along with three other rookies, is in the top ten in driving and cannot be discounted. .
By: Matt Fargo