THE AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, played over three courses in the stunning Monterey Peninsula of Northern California, gets underway on Thursday where the world number one Jason Day returns to competitive golf following his indifferent showing at Torrey Pines two weeks ago.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Spyglass Hill Golf Club are used in rotation over the opening three days of the Pro-am event before the final round is played at the host course, Pebble Beach.
Throughout his career, Day has played well in this event with five top 20’s and three top 10’s in seven starts.
However, there is some concern how close he is to playing at the level he needs to be to retain his number one position in the game, although with second ranked Rory McIlroy indisposed at present he has a buffer. This week might just offer some clues in that regard.
FLASHBACK TO JASON DAY AS AN AMATEUR:
Dustin Johnson surprised many with his missed cut at Torrey Pines but prior to that he was playing well including when runner-up in Abu Dhabi.
Importantly for his bounce-back this week is that he and this event, and more specifically Pebble Beach Golf Links, get along just fine.
Johnson has been a two-time winner here, once runner-up and boasts three other top 10’s and at the 2010 US open he had a three shot lead heading into the final round before stumbling.
Justin Rose has played this event just the once for an impressive 6th place last year and having finished 4th and runner-up in his most recent starts this season he appears well placed to continue his recent improvement.
Jordan Spieth has not won this event but he has recorded a lot of good rounds over the three courses and is in great form currently.
This appears a great chance for him to win his first PGA Tour title in the last nine months, bearing in mind he did win the Australian Open in November.
Phil Mickelson has been a three-time winner at Pebble Beach and finished runner-up just last year.
He has been putting together a lot of birdies in recent starts and if he can find a way to eliminate some of the mistakes then maybe he can win for the first time in more than three years.
Brandt Snedeker is another with multiple wins in this tournament, lifting the trophy twice in the last four years, and his overall form of late has been good enough for him to be a factor this week.
The nature of the event, being played over three courses in a pro-am format, allows for a bigger field than normal and, as a result, 12 Australians will tee it up.
Only two Australians have been successful in the 80 year history of the tournament since it was first played as the Bing Crosby Pro Am and won by Sam Snead in 1937.
Bruce Crampton (1965) and Brett Ogle (1993) are those two but this year, in addition to Jason Day, Geoff Ogilvy, Cameron Smith, Matt Jones, John Senden, Rod Pampling, Stuart Appleby, Cameron Percy, Greg Chalmers, Steve Bowditch, Brett Drewitt and recently turned professional Brett Coletta get their chance.
Coletta, the Queensland Open Champion and runner-up to Curtis Luck at the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship in Korea in October, plays his first PGA Tour event after making the cut at the recent Singapore Open in what was his professional debut.
JORDAN SPIETH REVEALS HIS ON COURSE SWING THOUGHTS: