The AT&T is a tournament known for matching the pros with world renowned celebrities like Bill Murray, Wayne Gretsky, Andy Garcia, Tom Brady, and Ray Romano. What I didn’t realize until I got into this fantasy golf thing, though, is that several tournaments throughout the year include a Pro/Am event, they just aren’t typically going on during the competitive part of the tournament, and perhaps none have such a wide-array of celebrities teeing it up.
The tournament’s location plays a big part of that. On the Montgomery Peninsula, pros and amateurs alike get to enjoy some of the best golf known to the world, headlined by the infamous Pebble Beach Golf Links. I certainly do not need to provide a history lesson on this golf course, nor am I the right person to do so (I will get to Pebble Beach one of these days, though!). Let’s just skip straight to the storylines.
From a fantasy perspective, this is a tough tournament to predict because of the changing field. A lot of golfers who have played all or most weeks since the Sony Open will take a week off, while some others circle this as their first week back (see: Jim Furyk).
Yes, the Fury will start his 2015 campaign, though at age 44, we’d like to wait and see what his form looks like before adding him to our list of picks. Dustin Johnson will make his second start after a missed cut at Torrey Pines (despite some good shots). At Pebble, though, DJ enters as the second all-time money earner for this tournament. He will be a favorite, and certainly could play his way back into contention.
Many eyes will be on last week’s winner Jason Day, as he enters a great opportunity to keep climbing toward world number 1. Already risen to number 5, Day could make a big statement by going back-to-back at two of the toughest courses on tour. But defending champion, Jimmy Walker, will have something to say about that. Walker is one of the three hottest players in golf right now, with out a doubt. With three starts in 2015, Jimmy has lost in a playoff to Patrick Reed, defended his title at the Sony Open, and finished in a T7 last week with a disappointing Sunday 73. Walker is a tough out this week, by no stretch of the imagination.
This tournament, like last week, will favor the grinder. Another tough, major-caliber track in Pebble Beach will challenge the field even in the perfect weather conditions that are projected. Played on three courses of varying difficulty, though, scoring is still quite manageable, as winning scores have ranged from -11 to -19 over the past 5 years. So, without further ado, here are our picks:
Jimmy Walker. We simply cannot ignore both Walker’s current form and recent history (see above). This is a defensive pick to top all defensive picks, but we’ve got to take it.
Brandt Snedeker. Another chalky pick, the 2013 champion is sneaking his way right back into the conversation, thanks to the revamped Butch Harmon swing. After a top 10 in Scottsdale, Snedeker didn’t fall off too much with a T19 at Torrey Pines. A familiar track and improving scoring bodes well for the Nashville resident.
Hunter Mahan. Chalk pick #3. Though Hunter is coming off the birth of his second child, causing him to miss Torrey Pines, he knew well ahead of time that he’d be resting last week. He should be mentally focused to return to competition, oh and by the way, this is a tournament where Mahan hasn’t finished worse than T16 in the past 4 tries, including a runner up and a T6.
William McGirt. Okay, now we’re talking! No chalk here! McGirt is a flier worthy of balancing out three “safe” picks. But a closer look would tell you that McGirt isn’t too crazy of a pick. A journeyman and grinder who is on the rise, McGirt finished 2013 with 14/24 made cuts, and 2 top tens, and followed up with 19/29 made cuts and 4 top tens last year. He finished with a T16 here in 2013, and although he missed the cut last year, he followed it up by holding the sole 54-hole lead at the Northern Trust Open, before losing to a surging Bubba Watson. McGirt is looking for his first PGA win, and although we’re not projecting him to get it here, we think he will make the cut and earn himself a nice paycheck.
Jimmy Walker. See above. Twice. We can’t bring ourselves to not maximize on this guy’s form and ability.
Brandt Snedeker. Also see above. There were a ton of good golfers that we like in the second tier (see: Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Chris Kirk, Brendon Todd, Kevin Na, Nick Watney, and Graham Delaet, to name a great many), but we are going to try and put our eggs in one basket this week, as much as possible. Maybe on Monday we will be reminding all the kindergarten readers why you should never put your eggs in one basket, but we’re fairly confident here. Note: William McGirt was also in the second tier, which is a good sign that Golf Channel values him that heavily, but it meant we couldn’t double up on him too.
Michael Thompson. No trickery here – Thompson climbed into contention last week, finishing with a T11, and finished in the top 20 here last year, which was one of his few tries in this tournament. Thompson’s last win came at the Honda Classic in 2013, so he tends to do better early in the season, too.
D.A. Points. Another gutless pick from your fearless fantasy experts. D.A. Points is one of few highlights in the bottom tier, as he did win this tournament in 2011. Points has been nowhere to be found recently, so a course where he’s had past success should be just what the doctor ordered. *Note: we badly wanted to take David Duval here, who is putting down the announcing microphone and teeing it up this week, just for S**** and giggles.