The Punter's In-Play Blog: Is Spieth poised to win again at Pebble?

Golfer Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth in action at Spyglass Hill

Jordan Spieth leads the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am with a round to go by two strokes but with five players tied for second, converting his lead won't be easy...

"All the stats suggest he’s a fair price but it’s a huge day for Spieth given how poorly he’s been playing for so long and that he hasn’t won since the 2017 Open Championship ."

09:45 - February 14, 2021

With three holes of round three to play at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Daniel Berger and Nate Lashley led the field by two strokes but there was plenty of late drama to change the complexion of the tournament.

Berger made a double-bogey seven at the 18th after driving out of bounds and Lashley bogeyed both the 17th and 18th after Jordan Spieth had produced this piece of magic at the par four 16th.

Spieth's eagle at 16 tidied up what was a scruffy back-nine given he'd played the previous six holes in three over-par but he now leads by two with a round to go. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 9:35.

Jordan Spieth -13 3.3512/5
Patrick Cantlay -11 4.94/1
Daniel Berger -11 7.413/2
Russell Knox -11 15.5
Nate Lashley -11 22.021/1
Tom Hoge -11 25.024/1
Jason Day -10 15.5
Paul Casey -10 18.5
Maverick McNealy -10 40.039/1
Brian Stuard -10 60.059/1
Max Homa -9 42.041/1
Will Gordon -9 110.0109/1
-8 and 90.089/1 bar

Including the 2019 US Open held at Pebble Beach, when Gary Woodland converted a one-stroke lead, only one of the last five 54-hole leaders have been beaten at Pebble Beach. Paul Casey gave up a three-stroke lead in this event a few months before Woodland's win but 54-hole leaders have a decent record here.

Between 2003 and 2007, all five renewals were won by the 54-hole leader or co-leader and if we add in the stats below, Spieth looks a big price at anything over 2/1.

All the stats suggest he's a fair price but it's a huge day for Spieth given how poorly he's been playing for so long and that he hasn't won since the 2017 Open Championship. He played poorly on Sunday last week having began the final round of the Phoenix Open tied for the lead and with five players tied for second this week, he'll soon get swallowed up if he's not on his game today.

I highlighted Daniel Berger's poor recent performances in-contention yesterday so his drive on 18 wasn't necessarily a big surprise and I'm happy to continue to swerve him but the pre-event favourite, Patrick Cantlay, is harder to dismiss...

Cantlay led after round one but he's been treading water ever since. His tee-to-green game was better than anyone's yesterday though and he ranks second for Greens In Regulation for the week so far but the putter was ice cold in round three and he ranked 62nd of 67 with the flatstick in round three.

It's a similar story with Russell Knox, who ranks first for GIR so far this week, and if either man starts holing putts today they could easily take the title. Knox would be my idea of the value towards the head of the market at 16.015/1 but it's a difficult event to call.

I'm going to be cheering on Lashley, who I backed after round one, and Casey, who I backed yesterday, and he'll be better suited to chasing than he was to leading in 2019 but this is a very open event still and depending on the weather, there are plenty still in it.

Having been a 200.0199/1 chance after three rounds in 2016, Vaughn Taylor shot 65 to win from tied eighth and six adrift so we can't discount an off-the-pace winner and the likes of Kevin Streelman (T13 and five adrift) and Will Gordan (T11 and four back) are both interesting contenders but the one I've chanced at a huge price is Cameron Tringale who sits alongside Streelman.

Cameron Tringale 1280.jpg

The talented Tringale isn't great in-the-mix so he needs to come with a late rally and he very nearly won the RSM Classic in November in similar circumstances when he finished third (beaten by a stroke), having sat tied 11th and seven back after three rounds. I thought 150.0149/1 was a bit big.

12:55 - February 13, 2021

We've reached the halfway stage of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and the leaderboard is dominated by those drawn at Pebble Beach on day one.

The figures don't suggest the advantage was huge with Pebble Beach averaging 70.26 on day one and 72.26 yesterday and Spyglass averaging 72.4 on Thursday and 73.18 yesterday, the Pebble - Spyglass rotation averaged 0.56 under-par over the two rounds whereas the Spyglass - Pebble bunch averaged 0.66 over-par but only two players that started the event at Spyglass are inside the top-14 and within seven of the lead - Daniel Berger and Paul Casey.

Here's the 36-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 12:50.

Jordan Spieth -12 4.03/1
Daniel Berger -11 4.57/2
Henrik Norlander -10 13.5
Patrick Cantlay -9 5.95/1
Paul Casey -9 9.08/1
Tom Lewis -9 27.026/1
Russell Knox -8 40.039/1
-7 and 38.037/1 bar

As highlighted in the preview, three of the last five winners of this event have been huge outsiders but we look set for a fancied winner this time around with the leaderboard dominated with plausible candidates.

The pre-event favourite, Patrick Cantlay, shot an over-par round around Spyglass after his course record equalling ten-under-par around Pebble on Thursday to slip out of the lead and the man to beat now is the 2017 champ, Jordan Spieth, who hasn't won since he won the Open Championship in the July of that year.

Spieth went into the final round of the Phoenix Open tied for the lead with Xander Schauffele last week so this week's performance isn't totally out of the blue but he's been in the wilderness for so long that it's still a bit of a surprise to see him back up last week's effort.

He fell from first to fourth in Phoenix when shooting over-par on Sunday and that's the worry here. It's been so long since he contended, we're all guessing as to how well he'll cope in the heat of battle and at 3/1, he looks short enough. Although the stats are in his favour...

As three courses are ordinarily used for this event, opposed to just the two this time around, the draw doesn't usually even itself out until after 54 holes but in front after 36 holes has still been the place to be of late.

Ted Potter Jr trailed by eight in a tie for 35th at this stage before he won three years ago and Vaughn Taylor sat 18th and six adrift in 2016 but five of the last eight winners were in front at halfway and the 2014 winner, Jimmy Walker, sat second.

Trailing Spieth by a stroke is Daniel Berger and at first glace he looks a tasty price at around 7/2 but his performances in-contention haven't been great lately. Since he won the St.Jude Classic in 2016, when three clear at this stage, Berger has been within two strokes of the lead through two rounds on six occasions and his finishing positions read 5-11-29-33-12-10.

It's a really tricky looking leaderboard and not one I like but at the prices on offer the only one that appears to represent a tiny bit of value is the recent Dubai Desert Classic winner, Paul Casey, at 9.08/1. He won't care how windy it gets over the weekend and he's clearly playing well so I've had a tiny bet on him but I can't pretend to be briming with confidence.

11:45 - February 12, 2021

The first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am has been completed and there's already been a huge draw bias that could get further accentuated today.

In flat calm conditions, those drawn at Pebble Beach in round one made hay, averaging 1.744 strokes below par, whereas the half of the draw that played Spyglass Hill averaged 0.397 strokes over-par. A difference of more than two strokes.

The top-five on the leaderboard and nine of the top-ten all played Pebble yesterday and with the wind forecasted to pick up today, it's quite possible that those that play there in the second round already have too much to do. Spyglass is more sheltered than Pebble so it's virtually inconceivable that the draw evens itself out today.

Here's the 18-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 11:40.

Patrick Cantlay -10 2.8615/8
Henrik Norlander -8 17.016/1
Akshay Bhatia -8 65.064/1
Jordan Spieth -7 10.09/1
Nate Lashley -7 65.064/1
-6 and 12.011/1 bar

Pre-event favourite, Patrick Cantlay, now dominates the market and it's perfectly possible that he just runs away from the rest over the next three days. As highlighted in the preview, we've seen five wire-to-wire winners in the last 15 years so given Cantlay's class he could very easily make it six in 16 but he's not a player I trust in-contention and I certainly don't want to back him this short after just one round given the expected weather.

To varying degrees of severity, blustery conditions will greet the players on each of the next three days so siding with the frontrunners makes less appeal than it ordinarily would in benign conditions.

It's always easier to maintain a lead in calm conditions as it's easier to keep going low and therefore harder to get caught. In tough conditions, there's always one or two players that defy the odds and somehow fashion a score and when they do, they make giant strides up the leaderboard.

I'd be very surprised if at least one player doesn't do something special today to make a big move but guessing who is a futile exercise and even though it won't be so easy to make all the running, given 15 of the last 17 winners have been within three of the lead after round one, I'm more than happy to throw a few pounds at the two players that fall into that remit trading at huge odds still - Nate Lashley and Akshay Bhatia.

Lashley was in-contention at the Phoenix Open last week before bogeying the last two holes of round two so he was on the radar before the off anyway and the promising Bhatia is being disrespected given his potential and yesterday's play.

Debutants have a poor record in the tournament but 19-year-old Bhatia is from California and clearly likes Pebble. I suspect he's familiar with both courses so let's see how he likes Spyglass today.

The market is very lopsided with Cantlay so short but the only other two players that aren't listed above, that are trading at less than 40.039/1, also look short. Daniel Berger, who sits in a tie for 11th, trailing by five, is trading at just 12.011/1 and Paul Casey, who's tied for 22nd and six off the lead is a 17.016/1 chance but both play the exposed Pebble today and both look far too short.

It's going to be fascinating to see how the two courses play in the wind today, how Cantlay plays from the front, and who, if anyone, can make a big move in the trickier conditions. I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the state of play at halfway when we should have a much clearer picture.

Pre-Event Selections:
Phil Mickelson @ 70.069/1
Andrew Putnam @ 120.0119/1
Branden Grace @ 130.0129/1
Brandt Snedeker @ 160.0159/1
Patton Kizzire @ 180.0179/1

In-Play Picks:
Akshay Bhatia @ 65.064/1
Nate Lashley @ 65.064/1
Paul Casey @ 9.28/1
Cameron Tringale @ 150.0149/1

Find Me a 100 Winner Selections:
Back Michael Thompson 1 ½ u @ 120.0119/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 8.07/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back Stewart Cink 1 ½ u @ 180.0179/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 8.07/1 & 10u @ 2.01/1
Back Brian Gay 1u @ 400.0399/1
Place order to lay 10u @ 15.014/1 & 10u @ 2.56/4

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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