Tiger and Pebble: Oddsmakers like the pairing

Tiger Woods after winning the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Tiger Woods after winning the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

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PosNameTodayThruScore
T1Matt Kuchar-5F-5
T1Scott Langley-5F-5
T1William McGirt-5F-5
4Harris English-3F-3
T5Russell Knox-2F-2
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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Unlike the desert in Palm Springs, where the weather generally is perfect and the greens pristine, the three courses used in this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am – Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass and Monterey Peninsula’s Shore Course – usually have bumpy greens from the local Poa annua. This year might be a rare exception.

Because of the lack of rain on the Monterey Peninsula, the usually soft, even mushy greens are hard and fast, similar to the U.S. Open conditions of 2010, but without the speed of a major championship.

What does this mean? Well, ball striking might be more important, and putting, often a crapshoot here, will reward the best putters.

Favorites

In Tiger Woods’ heyday, the Monterey Peninsula was his second home. He famously posted a two-stroke victory early in the 2000 season here before his record-setting 15-shot romp in the U.S. Open that summer.

Back then, Woods was dominant on Tour. When he shot a final-round 64 to pass Matt Gogel, it hardly was a surprise but rather added to Woods’ lore. He would go on to win nine times and post 17 top-10s in 20 starts that year.

Things certainly are different for the former World No. 1.

Woods hasn’t recorded a 64 or lower on the PGA Tour since his opening round at the AT&T National in May 2009. His most recent official victory was the BMW Championship, in September 2009. That’s nearly 2 1/2 years ago.

Woods also hasn’t been back to Pebble Beach for this event since 2002, but the California native has a solid history here, with two top 10s in six appearances. However, when Woods played in those AT&T’s, he played Poppy Hills, which was taken out of the rotation in 2010 and replaced with Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Woods has some learning to do.

As the 5-1 favorite in Vegas and his success here, Woods seems to be a good bet this week. However, since the beginning of 2008, the favorite has won only 23 times, including just once this season: Steve Stricker at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua.

Woods has not shown the ability to put four rounds together in the past two years, but after a third-place finish at Abu Dhabi in his 2012 debut, his game is rounding into form, making it hard not to focus on Woods this week.

• • •

Another player who is having trouble putting four rounds together is Phil Mickelson. With a solid record at Pebble Beach, including victories in 1998, 2005 and ’07 among his seven top 10s in 16 starts, Mickelson has triple the victories of Woods.

But Mickelson is struggling in 2012, with a missed cut at Torrey Pines and two other mediocre finishes.

Mickelson has been working with new driver shafts and intends to put something different into play this week. That could make the difference for Mickelson. As his driver goes, so goes the rest of his game. It’s possible he might be a better bet this week.

• • •

Another long bomber with a solid record on the Monterey Peninsula is Dustin Johnson. He posted consecutive victories at Pebble Beach, in 2009 and 2010, after a T-7 in 2008, and he nearly won a U.S. Open in 2010 here.

Johnson’s game is rounding into shape after knee surgery last year, and his length will be a benefit on the three courses.

• • •

Woods, Mickelson and Johnson are the best bets this week, but there are others worth a look:

Tom Gillis has a solid record here recently, with top-10s in 2010 and 2011.

Jim Furyk has had some success here, too, with four top-10s, but he is making his 2012 debut on the PGA Tour. It might be a little early to pick Furyk to win.

Vijay Singh won this event in 2004 and has recorded seven top 10s, but none since a playoff loss in 2008.

Davis Love III also has a solid record, with seven top 10s, but none since 2007.

Nick Watney tied for sixth here last year, but he missed Phoenix last week with the flu, so his strength could be a factor this week.

Mike Weir has recorded seven top 10s in 14 appearances, but the Canadian is playing his first Tour event since surgery on his right elbow in August.

Odds to win

  • Tiger Woods . . . 5/1
  • Dustin Johnson . . . 20/1
  • Phil Mickelson . . . 20/1
  • Hunter Mahan . . . 20/1
  • Nick Watney . . . 20/1
  • Rickie Fowler . . . 25/1
  • Brandt Snedeker . . . 25/1
  • Bryce Molder . . . 25/1
  • Martin Laird . . . 30/1
  • Zach Johnson . . . 30/1
  • Spencer Levin . . . 30/1
  • Kevin Na . . . 30/1
  • Jim Furyk . . . 30/1
  • Geoff Ogilvy . . . 40/1
  • Padraig Harrington . . . 40/1
  • Ian Poulter . . . 40/1
  • D.A. Points . . . 40/1
  • Rory Sabbatini . . . 40/1
  • Aaron Baddeley . . . 50/1
  • Sean O’Hair . . . 50/1
  • Bud Cauley . . . 50/1
  • Trevor Immelman . . . 50/1
  • Pat Perez . . . 50/1
  • Vijay Singh . . . 60/1
  • Brian Gay . . . 60/1
  • Ryan Moore . . . 60/1
  • John Mallinger . . . 60/1
  • D.J. Trahan . . . 60/1
  • Brendan Steele . . . 60/1
  • Chris Stroud . . . 60/1
  • Cameron Tringale . . . 60/1
  • Harris English . . . 60/1
  • J.B. Holmes . . . 80/1
  • Ricky Barnes . . . 80/1
  • John Huh . . . 80/1
  • Robert Garrigus . . . 80/1
  • Rod Pampling . . . 80/1
  • Sang-Moon Bae . . . 80/1
  • Bob Estes . . . 80/1
  • Jimmy Walker . . . 80/1
  • Nick O’hern . . . 100/1
  • Jeff Maggert . . . 100/1
  • Charley Hoffman . . . 125/1
  • Davis Love III . . . 125/1
  • Charlie Wi . . . 125/1
  • Mike Weir . . . 200/1
  • Danny Lee . . . 200/1
  • Stuart Appleby . . . 200/1
  • David Duval . . . 250/1
  • Field (All Others) . . . 7/2
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