Johnson well placed at Pebble Beach
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2011 AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am | Preview | 09 Feb 2011
There are not many better settings for tournament golf than the Monterey Peninsula of California and this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro Am, played over three of the iconic courses on the Peninsula, offers a treat for both golf fans and tournament professionals.
Pebble Beach Golf Links, Monterey Peninsula Country Club and Spyglass Hill are all contained in the Pebble Beach precent and offer some of the most spectacular golfing vistas in golf.
The courses are used in rotation over the opening three days before the tournament returns to the host course, Pebble Beach Golf Links, for the fourth and final round. The event is played in a Pro Am format.
Dustin Johnson is the defending champion having defeated David Duval and J.B. Holmes last year despite a final round of 74. Johnson had also won the event in 2009 when he comfortably accounted for Mike Weir by four shots. In his first visit to the event in 2008 Johnson had also finished 7th.
Johnson continued his love affair with Pebble Beach in the opening three rounds of the US Open last June before self imploding over the opening few holes of round four. He lead by three over eventual winner Graeme McDowell heading into the final day but disaster struck early and he slipped away.
Johnson is likely to start as the favourite this year however despite the presence of world number four Phil Mickelson. Johnson’s recent form has been good, more especially his recent third at Torrey Pines, and there is every reason to think his great record in this most magnificent golfing Mecca will continue.
Three time winner Phil Mickelson has the current form to be a genuine chance to win again. Mickelson finished runner up two weeks ago at another of his favourite venues Torrey Pines and this offers a great opportunity to win his first event since Augusta National last year.
Although Nick Watney has made six out of seven cuts in this event he has seldom contended. A recent 6th at Torrey Pines and 5th last week in Phoenix suggests this year might be a different story.
Earlier in his career Vijay Singh played this event well. He was regularly inside the top ten and in 2004 he won. Singh has been a long time out of the winner’s circle but his third place finish last week in Phoenix was a signal that things are getting better.
South African Tim Clark has played his last few events well and has often played well in this tournament. His last start runner-up at the Sony might have been a month ago but he might be just the golfer to upset some of those ahead of him in terms of favouritism.
The Australians include their second highest ranked player Geoff Ogilvy who has played this event on only once occasion previously and he missed the cut then.
Ogilvy’s schedule has probably changed because of his finger injury earlier in the year and it will be interesting to see just how he handles this format and these courses.
Other Australians include Steven Bowditch, Marc Leishman, Aron Price, Aaron Baddeley, Jarrod Lyle, Matt Jones, Stuart Appleby, Nick O’Hern and Steve Elkington.