The streak continues.
For the fourth time in four events to start the 2024 season, a triple-digit longshot swooped in and claimed the biggest prize on the PGA TOUR at the Farmers Insurance Open.
This week, the hallowed Pebble Beach Golf Links will host 41 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking in the second Signature Event of the 2024 PGA TOUR season.
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am will have a different tenor for the 2024 edition.
A field of only 80 qualified players will play a round each at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Spyglass Hill Golf Club with their amateur partner to determine the Pro-Am title. The professionals continue to Pebble Beach for the final 36 holes to determine the champion.
Matthieu Pavon, the winner last week at Torrey Pines, joins defending champion Justin Rose and brand-new PGA TOUR member Nick Dunlap in this no-cut event.
Top of the Board
The No. 1 player in the world, Scottie Scheffler, (8/1) returns to the top of the board this week as the joint-favourite. The Texan, playing Pebble Beach for the first time in an official event, presents an unquestioned statistical profile. The no-cut event will not apply any early pressure to figure out the 105-year-old track. I will patiently wait to unleash him down the road at more familiar tracks (TPC Scottsdale, Bay Hill, TPC Sawgrass).
Rory McIlroy (8/1) has cashed in the top 10 on the PGA TOUR in nine of his last 10 events. Starting the 2024 season in Dubai, he blew a late lead in his debut. Finishing T2, he rebounded the following week to pick up the trophy for his first win since the Genesis Scottish Open last summer. Ramping up his activity before the Masters was one of his goals this winter. Cashing T9 at the U.S. Open here in 2019 was his last visit. Given a choice of the top two, I’ll start here.
Viktor Hovland (12/1) has had success in this part of the world more as an amateur than a professional. The 2018 U.S. Amateur champion played the stroke play portion of the event on Pebble Beach and Spyglass. The match-play portion of the event was on Pebble Beach, and the Norwegian was a convincing winner. Returning the following summer, he posted low amateur at the U.S. Open as he finished 12th. In two starts as a professional, he’s cashed twice with T13 the best of the bunch. Learning the game in Norway in less-than-perfect conditions, he should embrace the windy, rainy forecast.
Xander Schauffele (14/1) joins most of the top players in the field this week who don’t have a ton of reps on these layouts. Cashing T3 at the U.S. Open, Schauffele is making only his third start on the Monterey Peninsula. With three top-10 paydays from his first three events of the season, the Californian will enjoy another limited field event and won’t mind another week on Poa annua.
Max Homa (14/1) took this event off his schedule after the 2021 edition despite posting T7-T14-10 in his final three visits. The proud owner of six career wins, four have been achieved in his home state of California.
Patrick Cantlay (16/1) has given his investors a roller-coaster ride over the last two weeks. Over his last five rounds, he’s posted 73 or worse in four loops and did not finish in the Top 50 at The American Express or the Farmers Insurance Open. The old saying “form is temporary, but class is permanent” will be tested this week. Cashing T11 or better in his last three here suggests he will bounce back this week.
Jordan Spieth (18/1) has quietly picked up a pair of top-six finishes in his last two worldwide starts and returns to Pebble Beach with momentum. The 2017 champion, making his 12th start, hit the podium in two of the last three years. The Texan has never missed the cut and won’t again this year!
I’ll build my card around him this week.
Justin Thomas (22/1) took last week off to tune up his wedge game for Pebble Beach. At the height of his best seasons, he consistently threw darts and racked up birdies. Looking to return to the winner’s circle for the first time since the 2022 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, I’m not sure it will be in the wind and rain of an event he avoided for a decade.
Collin Morikawa (22/1), a former Cal Bear like Homa, participated in the U.S. Amateur here in 2018 and then returned as a pro for the 2019 U.S. Open (T35). The smallest greens on TOUR should accentuate his iron play, but the questions always begin with the putter.
Ludvig Aberg (28/1) continues his learning curve on another major championship layout. The bomb and gouge of Torrey Pines is replaced by navigating and shot-making at Pebble Beach. The field this week provides an additional challenge.
Pebble Beach Golf Links ranks among the top five shortest courses used on TOUR in 2023. The 2024 edition will tip at 6,972 yards and play to a stock Par-72.
Spyglass Hill Golf Club, also a stock Par-72, stretches to 7,042 yards.
Pebble Beach has friendlier fairways and only one hole with water in play. Spyglass Hill provides four water hazards, larger greens, and the shortest rough (two inches). Both courses have Poa annua greens.
The condition of Pebble Beach will sharpen after the amateurs exit the event after two rounds.
Justin Rose became the first English/European winner and just the sixth international victor.
Previous champions excelled hitting GIR, scrambling to save pars, and bossing Par-4 scoring.
The only debut winner was Brett Ogle in 1993.
Tom Hoge, the winner in 2022, became just the third champion since 2006 to pick up his first TOUR victory at the event.
On the line this week is a purse of $20 million, with the winner earning $3.6 million, 700 FedExCup points, entry to the Masters in April, and the 2025 Senty, among other perks.
The forecast suggests classic “Crosby” weather of wind and rain for most of the three rounds.
Players to consider for Top 10, Top 20, or Top 40 action:
Tommy Fleetwood (35/1) was the benefactor of McIlroy not closing the deal to begin 2024 in Dubai. The wind, rain, and ability to grind in those conditions make the Englishman jump off the page. For those of you who prefer more of a course horse, I cannot talk you out of Matt Fitzpatrick (33/1) after cashing T6 in 2022 and T12 at the U.S. Open.
Nicolai Hojgaard (45/1) won the DP World Tour Championship and has added two second-place paydays since November. Fresh off his 2024 PGA TOUR debut of solo second at Torrey Pines, he will try to keep the momentum rolling up the coast at Pebble Beach.
Nick Taylor (75/1) has three top-20 paydays in his last four visits, including hoisting the title in 2020.
Cameron Davis (80/1) possesses the tee-to-green game to push through the breezes and elements.
Patrick Rodgers (100/1) quietly snuck into the top 10 last week (T9) at Torrey Pines. The Stanford grad is more than familiar with golf in this part of the world.
Maverick McNealy (150/1) considers this week a home game. Growing up on the links of Pebble Beach, he’s posted solo second and T5 as his best paydays as a professional. After satisfying the terms of his major medical exemption last week, he now has full status.
Over the last two years. Taylor Moore (175/1) produced T15 and T16 in his first two visits. A super putter, Moore knocked off a solid field last March to win at the Valspar Championship.
San Jose State alum Mark Hubbard (200/1) thrives on the grasses in this part of California. Leading the field in SG: Approach at Torrey Pines, he found 57 of 72 GIR, second to only Tony Finau.