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Preview and Predictions for the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Ben AlberstadtFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2016

Preview and Predictions for the 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

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    Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

    Following Hideki Matsuyama's thrilling playoff triumph win over Rickie Fowler at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the PGA Tour heads to California for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. 

    The Pro-Am continues a stretch of West Coast events that included the Farmers Insurance Open, as well as next week's Northern Trust Open at Riviera, before the pros head to Florida for the Honda Classic. 

    Brandt Snedeker romped amid serene conditions at last year's contest on the Monterey Peninsula. Let's take a look at all the details for this year's competition and examine the possibility of the torrid Snedeker raising another trophy. 

Where to Watch

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    Gregory Bull/Associated Press

    Defending ChampionBrandt Snedeker  

    Where: Pebble Beach Golf Links, 6,828 yards, par 72. Spyglass Hill GC (6,960/72) and Monterey Peninsula CC’s Shore course (6,873/72) are also in the three days of pro-am rotation play. 

     

    What

    Total Purse: $6,500,000

    Winning Share:  $1,170,000

    FedEx Points to Winner:  500

     

    When

    Thursday-Friday: 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel)

    Saturday: 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS)

    Sunday: 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS)

Biggest Storylines

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    Wong Maye-E/Associated Press

    The AT&T Pro-Am is a unique animal. It boasts one of the most scenic venues on tour, three of the most beautiful courses in the world and the unique professional-and-amateur format that has dwindled on tour in recent decades.  

    Twelve of the top 25 golfers in the Official World Golf Ranking will be on hand for the event. Jordan Spieth and Jason Day will both be teeing it up, as will Justin Rose, Phil Mickelson and defending champion Brandt Snedeker. 

    Surging Brandt Snedeker will be looking for back-to-back wins at the Pro-Am, and Phil Mickelson will be seeking his 20th win in a West Coast event. A win by Spieth, Snedeker or Jason Dufner would make any of them the first repeat winner of the year. 

    On the celebrities front—because, well, that's part of this thing—Mark Wahlberg, Toby Keith, Justin Timberlake, Jake Owen, Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith will be in the field. 

    However, and this may be the biggest storyline this week, while stalwart Bill Murray was cited by PGATour.com as being  absent from the field, the Pro-Am's website indicates he's playing. Murray is battling injury, according the San Jose Mercury News' Tommy Wright, so it remains to be seen whether the funnyman will play. 

The Favorites

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    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Jordan Spieth: No surprise here. Jordan Spieth, tour leader in total strokes gained, has started the year with a win and a tie for seventh in his two PGA Tour starts. He finished inside the top 10 in his two most recent trips to Pebble Beach.   

    Dustin Johnson: Seemingly always in contention at Pebble Beach, DJ has two wins and four top-10 finishes at the Pro-Am. He's recorded four top-20 finishes in four starts this season, so his form is decent. He's hammering the ball this season, as usual, but his putting has been atrocious (179th in strokes gained). 

    Jason Day: Under the weather in his most recent start, Day's record at Pebble is strong, and he tied for sixth here last year. He seems incapable of finishing worse than 15th lately, and the No. 3 golfer in the world is hitting nearly 80 percent of greens in regulation this season.   

The Dark Horses

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    Joshua Paul/Associated Press

    Phil Mickelson: Don't count Lefty out. Mickelson stumbled at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but showed signs of brilliance with a third-round 65. Swing changes are coalescing, and he's the all-time leading money winner at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.  

    Kevin Na: While he missed the cut here last year, the surging Kevin Na has a pair of top-10 finishes in his last four starts at Pebble Beach. With top-10 finishes in four of his first six starts this season (T24 in Phoenix last week), Na could surprise this week. 

Prediction

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    Martin Dokoupil/Associated Press

    Winner: Jordan Spieth  

    Here's the reality: golf is difficult to predict. And even though we tapped Hideki Matsuyama last week, it's always tough to make a case for going against the chalk in a PGA Tour event. 

    So this week, the chalk it is: Jordan Spieth is the best bet on a number of fronts.

    The keys to winning at Pebble Beach are strong putting and wedge play. Spieth leads the tour in putting and is 38th on tour in approaches from 50 to 125 yards. 

    He's already won once on tour this season, and performed admirably amid a stretch of globetrotting. And after a week off to reset his clock and hit a few balls, Spieth ought to be ready to get it this week. 

    Further, the world No. 1 has finished inside the top 10 in his two most recent turns at Pebble Beach. 

    The question this week isn't "who will win?" Rather, it's "will anything stop Jordan Spieth from winning?" 

     

    All stats via PGATour.com.

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