While a lot of the attention heading into this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am is given to the amateur golfers taking part in the tournament, this is a huge tournament for the PGA Tour pros. Forget the fact that any win on tour is important for the earnings and FedEx Cup points, every golfer wants to win at this iconic tournament. Many of the pros have only made a few starts on tour this year, and this event can go a long way in determining the trajectory of their season.
For those that have won already, like Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson, it is an opportunity to skyrocket up the FedEx Cup standings and money list for the year as well as to make a big move in the official world golf rankings. Some golfers, like Brandt Snedeker are hoping to capitalize on their very solid play with their first win on the year. You also have the likes of Camilo Villegas who needs to find a way to earn back his full tour card. His performance at Pebble Beach could very well set the course for the rest of his year. Considering the fact that he doesn’t have his full card for 2013, he needs to make the most of every opportunity he gets.
This week, the experts have been all over Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Brandt Snedeker, and rightfully so. Mickelson won last week and is the defending champion at Pebble Beach. Snedeker has been playing great golf for the last two weeks and could very well turn that level of play into a win. DJ has a history of playing lights out at Pebble and definitely needs to be considered a favorite.
I have a feeling that there is going to be a dark horse that will make a move from the middle of the pack over the weekend to contend for the championship. Don’t sleep on Rafael Cabrera-Bello. This is his first event on the PGA Tour that isn’t a major championship or World Golf Championship event. He has four consecutive top 25 finishes to start the year on the European Tour and is hitting greens in regulation at an impressive rate.
In the end, however, it’s too tempting not to take Mickelson here, considering his track record and the performance he put on last week. His last minute driver change before the start of the Waste Management Phoenix Open definitely paid dividends, and if “Lefty” is comfortable on the tee he’s tough to beat.