AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Grace can go one better

South African Branden Grace
Branden Grace can shine at Pebble

The PGA Tour moves back to California this week and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am...

"Grace's one PGA Tour win took place by the coast on a course with small greens when he landed the title at Hilton Head while one of his European Tour wins came at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, showing he could thrive in a pro-am."

Main Bet: Back Branden Grace each-way @ 35/1

After finishing runner-up to Rickie Fowler on his debut in the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Sunday, I'm taking Branden Grace to stay hot at Pebble Beach this week.

The South African became a father for the first time in April, naming his boy after either Roger Maltbie or Roger Daltrey. Actually, probably neither of them.

But young Roger was in Grace's arms when being interviewed after the final round in Phoenix and you sense the Nappy Factor is now kicking in.

Branden Grace (720).JPG

After a flat run, Grace took T11 (Nedbank) and T7 (SA Open) in two big events back home and added a decent T27 in Abu Dhabi. He flew straight to Torrey Pines, perhaps understandably missing the cut, but back on American time he really nailed it at TPC Scottsdale.

Well, not quite. The bogey on 17 will still hurt when looking as if he'd come to win his race but this appears another chance for a trophy bid.

Putting some pieces of the jigsaw together, Grace's one PGA Tour win took place by the coast on a course with small greens when he landed the title at Hilton Head while one of his European Tour wins came at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, showing he could thrive in a pro-am.

At Pebble Beach this week, we're by the coast again, the greens are small and he'll be playing with amateurs once more.

He did actually have previous crack at this tournament to put the theory into practice and it went pretty well - 68-72-71-68 for T20.

Grace's GIR figures of late are some of the best in the field and he's able to punch them low which is always a plus when the winds pick up.

He showed further form in this part of the world when challenging heavily for the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay so he has some good credentials for an in-form 35/1 chance.

Next Best: Back Tony Finau each-way @ 22/1

I've had Tony Finau in mind for this event for a while, the only concern that he'd have shown his hand a little too much and be sent off around 14s or 16s.

Instead, the timing has worked out rather nicely as he's in at 22/1 which looks an over-reaction to last week's missed cut at TPC Scottsdale.


Why am I not concerned about that early exit? Because Finau has now missed the cut in Phoenix for the last four years. It's virtually irrelevant. He just doesn't get on with the course.

Either side of his annual MC there last year, Finau was sixth at Torrey Pines and runner-up at Riviera.

This time, he was T13 at the Farmers Insurance two weeks ago so it's fair to expect a rebound from his usual Scottsdale blip.

One of the reasons Finau does well in California is his preference for the Poa Annua greens and Future of Fantasy's list of top 25 performers on such putting surfaces shows Big Tone slotted in at seventh spot.

He's tried his luck at Pebble just once previously but with the U.S. Open being held there this summer, it's no surprise he's found a place for it again on his schedule.

Finau missed the event last year but took T23 on debut in 2017, closing with 70 at Pebble on the final day.

He was 75th in the OWGR at the time; he returns as the World No. 11. At 22s, I'm in.

Looking at the two players priced up shorter than him - and considerably so - it's not hard to make strong cases for Dustin Johnson and Jason Day.

DJ has won it twice and been outside the top four just once in the last five years.

The obvious negative is that he's flying in from Saudi Arabia. Then again, he's bringing the trophy with him after his two-shot win there.

Day's form at Pebble reading back from last year shows 2-5-11-4-MC-6. He was also T5 at Torrey Pines last time.

All that suggests the two will clog up some of the each-way places which is frustrating but, taking a ruthless angle on their win chances, DJ hasn't triumphed here since 2010 and Day's name isn't on the trophy.

Final Bet: Back Matt Jones each-way @ 150/1

In amongst the quality champions, we've had some surprise three-figure winners of this event so, in the spirit of the underdog, I'll put up a 150/1 shot in Matt Jones.

Matt Jones 1280.jpg

Jones hasn't missed this event since his debut in 2008 and, sifting through the quotes, he makes the expected positive noises.

"I play here every year. I love playing here. I'm comfortable out here.

"The pace of play is not that much of an issue, we're used to it playing in Palm Springs and golf on the PGA Tour is pretty slow as it is. So it's just a couple extra minutes a hole, which isn't too bad.

"Best golf courses in the world, and I just like playing them."

His results have been pretty decent with four top 15s and a further top 25. He missed the cut last year but from 2015-2017 the Aussie went 7-11-23.

In both 2010 and 2015 he was in the top three after 54 holes.

Back in July, Jones said his putting had been an Achilles Heel for the last few seasons so recent signs are better.

He was 9th for Putting Average when T29 at the Sony Open and also recorded a positive SGP figure when T13 at Torrey Pines last time out (closed with a 67).

That's two decent knocks out of three and, when adding in his Pebble history, he's capable of challenging for the each-way cash at 150/1.

Dave's 2018/19 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £360
Returned: £278.66
P/L: -£81.33

P/L: +£362.84

P/L: +£1179.89

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