Fairways And Roughs Title

Quick look at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

By PGA Tour News
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PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – There are 206 PGA TOUR players currently ranked in strokes gained: putting, the key statistical category that assesses effectiveness on the greens. Jordan Spieth is 195th on that list. That means, based strictly on the numbers, he’s one of the TOUR’s worst putters through the first 12 weeks of this season. Bet you never expected to read that sentence. But perhaps numbers can lie, or at least distort reality. And the reality from Spieth’s standpoint is that he remains ultra-confident in his putting ability. As he prepares for this week’s defense at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, he’s certainly not hitting the panic button. “I still believe that most of the guys that sit on this stage right here, you ask them who do they want putting on your team in a Ryder Cup, and I believe they would say my name,” Spieth said Wednesday during a media center visit. “So I have no doubt in my abilities.” Spieth has 10 measured rounds this season, so the small sample size contributes to his ranking. Consider the name at the very bottom of the list – reigning U.S. Open champ Brooks Koepka, who has just four measured rounds. Koepka’s calling card, though, is his power off the tee. Spieth, meanwhile, is the player who always makes the big putts. He ranked second in strokes-gained putting two seasons ago before dropping to 42nd last season (of course, he still won three times). That ranking was considered an aberration last year – which makes the current 195th ranking so jarring. “Going through just a minor slump that is set-up related,” Spieth said, explaining that his hands have been too far forward, thus resulting in hitting the ball into the ground. “It's opposite of what my natural tendency has been going back to when I was 8 years old,” he added. “So I just kind of got into a place that I hadn't been before and I just got to kind of get back into a comfortable set-up position and then everything will fall through from there.” Will this week’s visit to Pebble Beach be the place to fix his woes? Perhaps. A year ago, he ranked fourth in the field in strokes gained: putting for his two measured rounds at Pebble Beach. In the third round, he needed just 23 putts on the poa annua greens. But Spieth admitted it was his ball-striking, not his putting, that fueled his victory. In 2014, Spieth led after two rounds, but struggled on the Pebble Beach greens on Saturday, suffering six three-putts en route to a 78. It was a harsh lesson but one that has served him well ever since. “With the amount of slope and the type of grass it is with traffic, this poa annua, you just have to be careful and try and leave yourself with the easiest second putts a lot of times if you're outside 10 feet,” he said. As for his current woes? “The idea is just to stop thinking and just putt and not having to worry about things,” Spieth said. “But that's not the reality for a little while going forward here until I get to where when I set up over the putter, I'm seeing my lines and I'm setup towards those lines.” Three players to ponder Rory McIlroy Getting his first crack at Pebble Beach. Should be comfortable with his amateur partner – it’s his dad Gerry. Dustin Johnson Pebble Beach and Kapalua are the only courses he’s won on multiple times, but he hasn’t won here since 2010. Jordan Spieth Speaking of 2010 … that was the last time the reigning champ has successfully defended at Pebble Beach. The Flyover At the intersection of the 17th and 18th holes at Pebble Beach is the most picturesque and tranquil area on the golf course. In fact, an official photographer is available to record the moment for every group that comes through this week after tee shots are struck at 18. The 178-yard par-3 17th, famous for Tom Watson’s chip-in to win the 1982 U.S. Open, played to a stroke average of 2.995. The 543-yard 18th was the fifth toughest par 5 on TOUR last year at 4.986. Make sure the serenity of the tee box at 18, when you can rub shoulders with Carmel Bay, doesn’t divert your attention from the task at hand – avoiding the trouble running down the left side of the fairway. The Landing Zone Ocean right. That’s what gets your attention at the 466-yard par-4 ninth, generally considered the most difficult hole at Pebble Beach. In two of the last three years, the ninth has been No. 1 in difficulty, in large part because of the big numbers it can produce – double figures in double bogeys in both 2014 and 2017. But the ocean is not the only treacherous part. Sidehill lies and punishing bunker placements can cause havoc, even if you don’t end up in the Pacific. Here’s a look at where all tee shots landed last year. Weather check From PGA TOUR meteorologist Wade Stettner: “Dry weather will continue through the weekend as high pressure continues to influence the weather across the state. High temperatures will reach the 70s on Thursday and Friday, then cool to the 60s over the weekend. Winds will be a bit stronger on Saturday but are not anticipated to go over 20 mph here at the coast.” The gist of all this: With no rain in the forecast, don’t expect a Monday finish … unless we get an extended sudden-death playoff. For the latest weather news from Pebble Beach, California, check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub. Sound check This place is unbelievable. Probably the most scenic golf course we play all year. Maybe the most scenic golf course in America. By the numbers 6 – Players since 1970 who won in their first start in this event – John Cook (1981), Steve Jones (1988), Brett Ogle (1993), Matt Gogel (2002), Arron Oberholser (2006) and D.A. Points (2011). Rory McIlroy will be among those seeking to add his name to the list this week. 4 – Bogeys made last year by Jordan Spieth en route to winning at Pebble Beach. Spieth has played seven events in his PGA TOUR career in which he’s made four or fewer bogeys over the course of 72 holes. He’s won two of them (his other win came at the 2016 Sentry Tournament of Champions when he made two bogeys). 106 – Yardage of the par-3 seventh at Pebble Beach, the shortest hole (non-major) of any hole on the PGA TOUR last season. The average proximity to the pin (21 feet, 1 inch) ranked third shortest of any par-3 hole. 8 – Birdies made by Nick Watney at the seventh hole, the most of any player since 2003. Eleven other players have made six or more birdies in that span. Scattershots • Jason Day’s amateur partner is Chris Harrison, the host of the TV show “The Bachelor.” Has Day ever seen the show? “Just through my wife, actually,” he replied. “She watches it every Monday religiously. And when I hear the stuff that comes out of these people's mouths, I just walk out shaking my head sometimes. So it's actually, it's a pretty entertaining show, if you get down to sit and watch it, but I can't get hooked on it.” … • Three amateur players are listed with 0 handicaps – No Doubt drummer Adrian Young, PwC chairman Kevin Baldwin and retired Cowboys QB-turned CBS analyst Tony Romo. Young is paired with Peter Jacobsen, Baldwin with Tyrone Van Aswegen and Romo with Will Zalatoris. … • Spieth on his amateur partner, country singer Jake Owen, a 2 handicapper: “He’s a good player, but you kind of need a sandbagger in order to win this thing as a team.” Last year the duo finished four strokes behind team winners Ken Duke and Carson Daly … • The dry conditions will make all three courses play fast and firm. That should play to two-time champ Dustin Johnson’s power game, although he’s won here when the conditions were wet. “Usually generally it’s really soft and cold and wet,” Johnson said. “But this year the ball’s going, the fairways are pretty firm, greens are firm. I think it’s going to be a great week.”

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