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Jason Day couldn’t quite finish off the great Aussie weekend sparked by Ash Barty’s tennis victory in Melbourne but his third place behind 90/1 winner Luke List at Torrey Pines - his first top five since the 2020 PGA Championship - put down a marker for Pebble Beach this week.
The former World No.1, who had slipped to 129th as chronic back problems took a toll, regained a taste for competing at the top level when recalling that golden spell in 2015-16 when he won eight times and was almost unstoppable. The 34-year-old from Brisbane is still a way from the super-confident Day of old -a few years ago he wouldn’t have made the errors down the stretch - but with only ten of the world’s top 50 in opposition, the Pebble Beach Pro-Am will take less winning than the Farmers.
It is a huge encouragement for a punt that Day has a fabulous record over the courses which comprise this long-established 72-hole pro-am. Form figures of 11-5-4-2-5-11-4 over the last seven renewals, plus two earlier sixths, tell the story of Day’s consistency in this special format which pairs 156 pros with 156 ams.
They play one round apiece over Pebble Beach (6972 yards, par 72), Spyglass Hills (7041/72) and Monterey (6951/71) with the low 25 teams progressing to a Sunday showdown at the iconic host links, along with the 54-hole cut pro survivors in the main event. Playing in fours at a hacker’s pace does not suit every pro so it is well for punters to look out for those who have thrived in the format.
One with serious credentials is Maverick McNealy who had a hole-in-one at Torrey Pines last week and finished off birdie-eagle on Sunday to round off a bad day at the office on a big upswing. His first three rounds suggested a far better final position than 30th and although this ex-amateur star has yet to win, one of his second places came at a spectator-free Pebble last year when Daniel Berger snaked in a 31ft eagle putt at the last to nick it.
McNealy once lived near the 15th green of spectacular Pebble Beach, a pussycat of a course until the Pacific winds start to blow, so is in familiar territory. As the young Californian has a big local following, the absence of fans last year due to Covid and the lack of atmosphere as there were no celebs either were not to his advantage.
Now fans, celebs and the Monterey Peninsula course return - ditched last year for health reasons - even if star regulars like five-time champion Phil Mickelson and dual winner Dustin Johnson do not. They and many other big names have been lured away by amazing appearance money for the Saudi International on the Asian Tour. The oil-rich Saudis have visions of launching a renegade world tour of their own and have the best field of the week.
However, FedEx Cup winner and 2021 Golfer of the Year Patrick Cantlay stays home hoping to add to the four victories of his last campaign and with a favourite’s chance of doing so. Last year, after shooting the lights out in round one with a 62, he failed to build on that lead, finishing only joint-third with Jordan Spieth, himself a letdown for punters as he’d been one ahead going into Sunday.
With Spieth the 2017 Pebble champion and both in the top dozen in 2020, their claims are obvious as are those of Ryder Cup teammate Berger who opened brightly with a Kapalua fifth. A top-20 at the weekend wasn’t too shabby either and a successful defence would not surprise.
With far less ability but definitely in form is the bushy-bearded Michael Thompson who added a Farmers 11th to his Sony fifth and has started 2022 as if the third win of a patchy career is not out of the question. The 2020 3M Open winner posted a top-ten when Mickelson took the honours here for a fifth time in 2019. The rest of his course form is nothing special and it is slightly discouraging he missed the cut in his last three-course pro-am, the American Express, two weeks ago but he still merits a small interest.
Dodgy putter Will Zalatoris has a Torrey hangover to overcome after blowing a golden opportunity to open his fledging account on Sunday but dual Pebble winner Brandt Snedeker and Yorkshireman Matt Fitzpatrick both putt like gods and must be considered on these short resort courses. Also hot with the flat stick, Brian Harman, Seamus Power and Kevin Kisner - the last-named going close to giving us a nice-priced winner at Waialae - also come very much into the reckoning.
Kisner, 43 under par for his eight 2022 rounds to date, is trending the right way after eighth and third in the two Hawaiian tournaments, and is worth another spin. It’s a pity his Pebble record isn’t more compelling - only one top-ten - but current form when few are yet at peak counts for plenty. It’s going to be a cool but generally sunny week with little wind so scoring should be low.
Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Betting Tips 2022
- 2pts each-way Jason Day at 20/1 (William Hill) 8 places, fifth the odds
- 1.5pts each-way Maverick McNealy at 28/1 (William Hill) 8 places
- 1pt each-way Daniel Berger at 14/1 (William Hill) 8 places
- 0.5pt each-way Michael Thompson at 870/1 (Bet365) 5 places, quarter the odds
- 0.5pt each-way Kevin Kisner at 50/1 (Bet365) 8 places, fifth the odds
- 0.5pt each-way Jordan Spieth at 20/1 (William Hill) 8 places
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Celebrating my 52nd year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. And, of course, putting up a 150/1 winner with Stewart Cink in my very first column for Golf Monthly. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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