Phil Mickelson Defends and Looks to Go Back-to-Back at Pebble Beach

By Ian Hudson
Debby Wong-US Presswire

Phil Mickelson (pictured) is the defending champion of the AT & T Pebble Beach National and he will be looking to win back-to-back for the first time in seven years. Mickelson was imperious in winning the Phoenix Open last week and if he maintains that level of form, the rest of the field will be playing for second place.

Brandt Snedeker has finished second to Tiger Woods and Mickelson in the last two weeks. He appears to be a ‘winner about to happen’ though there could well be some mental letdown after contending in his latest two tournaments. Lee Westwood makes his first appearance in the States in a season over which he will focus on the US PGA Tour.

The AT & T is a pro-am event in which 180 professional initially play over three courses in the Pebble Beach area with an amateur. The top 60 professionals and the top 20 teams then play Pebble Beach on Sunday. The host venues are proper courses, much tougher than usually chosen for pro-ams.

There’s a definite weather warning with this event. It has been abandoned in the past and been reduced to 54 holes on several occasions. The Pebble Beach course in particular is an entirely different proposition in windy conditions. In the 1992 US Open played at Pebble Beach conditions were possibly the hardest they have ever been for the final round of a major.

The latest renewals of this event have been played in benign conditions. Poor weather increases the chances of an outsider winning so it is advisable to check the forecast before considering the potential champions. However, if conditions are benign, the draw will have almost no impact on the scores.

A decent record in the mentally challenging pro-am format continues to be an important pointer. Rounds can take up to six hours, and the professionals must cope with amateur partners who may not be the most consistent in terms of playing conventional golf.

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