The Punter's In-Play Blog: Odds-on DJ just a shade too short at Pebble

Dustin Johnson – odds-on with a round to go at Pebble
Dustin Johnson – odds-on with a round to go at Pebble

There's just one round to go at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California so our man's had a good look at the current state of play. Read his final in-running thoughts for the week here...

“Dustin Johnson is obviously the man to beat and he’s been shortening up from odds-against all morning but given the stats, the conditions, the very small chance the 2010 US Open collapse here is still in his head, the strength of some of the opposition and his record when tied for the lead, I’m more than happy to leave him alone.”

14:10 - February 10, 2018

The World Super 6 Perth has finished and Kiradech Aphibarnrat has taken the title. I'll be back tomorrow with a good look at how that panned out in the De-Brief but given there's still a round to go at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, that's where my attention is now. Here's the 54-hole leaderboard with prices to back at 14:00.

Dustin Johnson -14 1.9720/21
Ted Potter Jr -14 14.013/1
Jason Day -12 5.49/2
Troy Merritt -12 26.025/1
Jon Rahm -11 11.010/1
Steve Stricker -11 36.035/1
Patrick Rodgers -11 44.043/1
Chez Reavie -10 50.049/1
-9 and 60.059/1 bar

Dustin Johnson has already been matched at just 1.454/9 but in tricky, blustery conditions, he lost his way a bit on the back-nine at Pebble Beach yesterday and he needed a ten-foot birdie putt on 18 and help from others to get back to the front.

Having taken the lead and been matched at 4.84/1, Troy Merritt finished his third round at Monterey really poorly, bogeying four of his last six holes, and Ted Potter Jr, who had been on 59 watch at Monterey, bogeyed his last two holes.

The holes averages below perhaps don't reflect exactly how tricky it was at Pebble Beach yesterday afternoon but it's worth bearing in mind that - that was where the majority of quality names played in round three, so that would have helped keep the scoring respectable. They're interesting to look back on but now the three-course rotation is over and everyone plays Pebble today, we need to look forward, not back.

There have been three weather-shortened 54-hole editions of this event in the last 25 years (1998, 1999 and 2009) so I've ignored those but looking at the other results, it doesn't look like Pebble is an easy place to convert from the front.

Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Jordan Spieth have converted sizable 54 hole leads of seven and six strokes and Vijay Singh, Aaron Oberholser, Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker have all won when tied at the top through three rounds but the only other third round leader to win since Bret Ogle won on debut in 1993 is Davis Love III in 2003. Since the turn of the century, we've seen winners come from as far adrift as three, four, five, six and even seven strokes so we may well get some drama later.

Mickelson, who's won this title four times and in various fashions, took the last of his titles (in 2012) by two strokes having trailed by six with a round to go and when interviewed after his third round yesterday, he felt someone from off the pace would win again this year. That could well have been a bit of optimistic mind games given he trails by five but the stats suggest he isn't talking nonsense.

Pebble is running fast for this time of year and the wind will prove troublesome again this afternoon. There won't be any super low scores but the conditions will give those that are off the pace a bit of a chance. If any of those four, five or maybe even six back can muster a low round they'll give themselves a great chance but it won't be easy.

Ted Potter's 62 was an outlier yesterday and only 15 other players shot 68 or better. Only William McGirt (66!), Russel Knox (67) and Brian Gay (68) achieved the feat around Pebble yesterday.

Dustin Johnson is obviously the man to beat and he's been shortening up from odds-against all morning but given the stats, the conditions, the very small chance the 2010 US Open collapse here is still in his head, the strength of some of the opposition and his record when tied for the lead, I'm more than happy to leave him alone.

DJ shot 74 in round four here in 2010 to win by a stroke. That wasn't a convincing win and it's the only time he's converted a co-lead. He and Paul Goydos were four clear of the remainder with a round to go but Goydos shot 78 and Johnson was clinging on in the end and on the three other occasions he's been tied for the lead with a round to go he's been beaten. A year after finishing sixth at the Tournament of Champions after a final round 73 (beaten by five), he blew the US Open when three-putting the 72nd green at Chambers Bay and he was beaten by seven strokes at the 2016 Tour Championship when he shot 73 on day four.

I'm far from convinced that Potter Jr or Merritt are ready to serve it up to the world number one after their poor finishes yesterday but the likes of my pre-event pick, Chez Reavie, Steve Stricker and Patrick Rodgers are all lurking and Jason Day and Jon Rahm are clear dangers to the favourite.

I've got Rahm, Merritt and Reavie onside at bigger prices than they trade at now and I've just had a small bet on Lefty at a ludicrously big 80.079/1. He put himself in the argument in Phoenix last week before a double-bogey at the 72nd hole cost him any chance he had and he's worth throwing a few pounds at here at a huge price. I'm really not convinced Mickelson will win another PGA Tour event but if he is to win again and for the first time in five years, from just off the pace at a course he loves makes sense.

14:55 - February 10, 2018

Defending champion, Brett Rumford, and former world number one, Lee Westwood, led the World Super 6 Perth after two rounds of stroke play but after both men shot six-over-par 78s in challenging windy conditions at Lake Karrinyup in round three today, neither man will be participating in tomorrow's match play. See the below tweet for the draw.

As detailed on Thursday (at the bottom of this blog), I layed a total of 33 players before the off and ten of the 33 have made it through to the match play element. I've listed them below, along with the amount I stand to lose on each one.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat -307
Yusaku Miyazato -297
Thorbjorn Olesen -288
Lucas Herbert -284
Satoshi Kodaira -274
Nick Cullen -272
Min Woo Lee -272
Sean Crocker -237
Poom Saksansin -62
Sam Horsfield -27

Should I do nothing further, and either Marcus Fraser or Brad Kennedy win the event I'll win £275 or £232, as I layed those two but only for a few pounds, and should any of the other 10 win, I'll win £426.

I could back the losers back now and make a tiny profit and I could mess around and back some back but let the others ride. I've decide to leave it alone for now but I was tempted to back Thorbjorn Olesen back. The Dane is quite superb in-contention in stroke play tournaments, he won the now defunct Perth International at this venue in 2014 and he's the best player left in the event. If I was looking at the tournament afresh and I wanted to back someone to win it, he'd be my man.

Looking at the draw, should Poom Saksansin beat Marcus Fraser, he'll play Lucas Herbert in the last 16 matches and I'll definitely have a loser in the quarter-final there and should Kiradech Aphibarnrat beat Ben Eccles, he'll meet Yusaku Miyazato which will again guarantee one of my losers getting to the last eight there but I'm happy enough with my lot. In five of the other six round of 16 matches I'm guaranteed at least one winner to be represented and I'm guaranteed at least one winner in the last eight given Brad Kennedy plays the winner of the Yikeun Chang - Zander Lombard round one tie.

I haven't yet decided what time to get up but I won't be doing anything with the first-round ties and I doubt I'll be doing anything at the last-16 stage. If things really go my way and there are only two or three that I've layed left at the quarter-final stage I may back them back to guarantee a profit or I might just watch the play and wait and see how it pans out. The target is to win at least £200 which should be achievable if if I can get to the semi-finals with at least two onside.

It was a lot of fun to watch last year so win, lose or draw I'm looking forward to it and I'll be back tomorrow with a look at the AT&T Pebble Beach with a round to go.

12:05 - February 10, 2018

We've reached the halfway stage of the AT&T Pebble Beach National and favourite backers are on good terms with themselves with Dustin Johnson tied at the top. Here's the current leaderboard with prices to back and details of which course each player is playing today.

Dustin Johnson -12 2.526/4 - Pebble Beach
Beau Hossler -12 11.010/1 - Monterey
Julian Suri -10 34.033/1 - Pebble
Troy Merritt -10 48.047/1 - Monterey
Jon Rahm -9 8.27/1 - Spyglass
Jason Day -9 8.415/2 - Pebble
Phil Mickelson -9 17.5 - Pebble
Kevin Streelman -9 42.041/1 - Pebble
Steve Stricker -9 80.079/1 - Pebble
Aaron Wise -9 90.089/1 - Spyglass
-8 and 60.059/1 bar

We've seen winners come from off the pace here. Between 2000 and 2002 the three winners trailed by eight, nine and seven strokes at halfway and Vaughn Taylor won from six adrift two years ago but with the likes of DJ, Jon Rahm and Jason Day all in-the-mix, it's hard to imagine this year's renewal is going to be won by a closer.

Anyone that backed Johnson at up to 8.415/2 before the off is sitting pretty. The rest of us need to decide whether around 6/4 is value with two rounds to go. This is the 13th time he's lead or co-led a 72 hole event and he's successfully converted six of the previous 12. He's converted in style numerous times but he's also put in a few iffy performances with the lead. Given how well he's played so far this week, and given how well he plays Pebble he should be a good thing but there are two seeds of doubt sewn in my mind.

The weather forecasts suggest we'll get a bit of wind today so Pebble isn't the ideal track to play today and DJ still hasn't won here since his infamous US Open collapse at pebble in 2010. To counter that, the wind doesn't look awful by any means and if anyone can overcome any demons with the minimum of fuss it's DJ. The last time he led at halfway he finished up throwing away a six-stroke 54-hole lead at the HSBC Champions in China in November and a few idiots (myself included!) thought that might play on his mind when he led the Sentry Tournament of Champions by two with a round to go in January. He won by eight!

As you'll see with the tweet below, Pebble is playing the hardest already and with wind due this afternoon, it will definitely be the toughest course today but whether it will be enough to stop DJ is debatable. All things considered, I'm more than happy to swerve him at the price though.

I thought Troy Merritt was over-priced at 50.049/1 given he plays the easiest of the three courses today and that he has won on the PGA Tour before (2015 Quicken Loans National) but I've only had a very small wager. Quite where he's found his form from is a bit of a mystery. He's missed his last three cuts and in six previous appearances in this event he's never made it to the final round. He could very easily slide out of contention today but 50.049/1 was too big.

I'll be back again later today with a look at the World Super 6 Perth once they've done the draw for tomorrow's match play.

11:55 - February 09, 2018

The World Super 6 Perth has reached the halfway stage and a whopping 80 players have made the weekend. They'll all be chasing the 24 match play spots on offer on Sunday and the event will get far more interesting after round three. I'll take a more detailed look at that one once we know the participants and the draw but for now my attention is turned to the PGA Tour event, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, where Kevin Streelman and Beau Hossler are tied at the top after round one on seven-under-par.

Streelman played Spyglass and Hossler played Pebble so both have Monterey Peninsula to play and according to yesterday's averages (see below tweet), that's the easiest course on the rotation.

I mentioned the possibility of a bit of wind on Saturday in the preview and although the forecast changed to suggest barely any since the preview was published, it's changed again and we do now look as though we may get a little bit. It's currently only forecasted to blow at around 13 knots (gusting to 20) but should that worsen, playing Pebble on Saturday could be a bit of a disadvantage and playing the tree-lined Spyglass on Saturday will be a plus.

The three different course rotations are Pebble - Spyglass - Monterey, Monterey - Pebble -Spyglass and Spyglass - Monterey - Pebble. In benign or equal conditions, those drawn to play Pebble on Saturday, before again playing it on Sunday, would have the best of the draw and as is nearly always the case, the majority of star names have been assigned that rotation, but given the slight doubt about Saturday's weather, there's a chance they could get the worst of it.

Of course, the forecast could very easily change for the better before tomorrow but it's definitely something to consider and if I had to choose a rotation today I'd plump for Monterey - Pebble -Spyglass.

Dustin Johnson has firmed up at the head of the market after an opening five-under-par around Spyglass and he's definitely the one to beat but Jon Rahm's price is interesting.

I thought before the off that he may be ready for a break, and whilst I haven't changed my tune, he's the one that catches my eye, price-wise, this morning. After a largely lacklustre day at Monterey, the Spaniard birdied his final three holes to move to -4 for the tournament and he's one of the few star names to be swerving Pebble on Saturday.

I know Rahm has already played the easiest of the three courses and I could very easily be reading a bit too much in to the forecast so I've only had a very small bet for now but given DJ is only one ahead of Rahm, and that he has to play Pebble in what will be the worst winds of the week on Saturday, it's hard to justify DJ's price almost halving from its starting point given Rahm's has drifted.

I'll be back tomorrow at the halfway point when things (including the weather forecast) should be much clearer.

14:50 - February 08, 2018

The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is yet to kick off (preview here) but the first round of the World Super 6 Perth is all done and dusted and Adam Baylis' 33/1 fancy to lead after the opening round, Brett Rumford, has done just that. Rumford is also Dave Tindall's 28/1 each-way selection.

I won't be doing anything with the event until after the third round now but as I finalised my lay book before the off I thought I'd detail it nice and early on. I mentioned in the preview that I planned to set out and lay everyone in the market trading below 100.099/1 before the off and I aimed to lay each one of them to lose around £700 each. I finished up laying a total of 33 players but some were only partially matched.

Sam Horsfield, for example, I only managed to get a fiver layed on at 95.094/1 and I layed just £2 on Richard Green at 85.084/1. Should I do nothing further and Horsfield goes on to win the event I'd lose £27 and should Green win, I'd win £266. The vast majority of the 33 were layed in full and my biggest loser is Hideto Tanihara. Should he go on to win and I do nothing more with the book, I'll end the week losing £317 but if any of the players I haven't layed at all go on to take the title I'd end the week in front to the tune of £426.

I'll take a good look at the state of play after round three, when we're down to just 24 competitors for the match play element and I'll decide what to do with my book then.

I'll be back again tomorrow with a look at the state of play in California after the opening round.

World Super 6 Perth Book:
33 players layed to lose a max of £317
Remained of the field onside to win £426

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Pre-Event Selections:
Chez Reavie @ 75.074/1
Shane Lowry @ 95.094/1

In-Play Picks:
Jon Rahm @ 14.013/1
Troy Merritt @ 50.049/1
Phil Mickelson @ 80.079/1

*You can follow me on Twitter @SteveThePunter

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