The field this week consists of 154 players. This is the second official “Pro-Am” event on the PGA TOUR schedule and a week where you’ll likely see more celebrity faces on the TV than actual PGA TOUR golfers. The amateur portion of this event was closed two seasons ago due to COVID-19 but will return for the second straight season. That also means we’ll be back to having a three-course rotation with a 54-hole cut. Players will rotate between three different venues on the first three days and then the top 60 and ties will play Pebble Beach again for the finale.
As far as the field goes, this week represents a big step down from the last two tournaments. Only seven of the OWGR top 50 are playing this week with major winners Jordan Spieth and Matthew Fitzpatrick leading the charge. Last season's winner Tom Hoge has risen all the way up to 29th in the world and is also in the field. Joining these three will be a smattering of crafty veterans like Justin Rose and Kevin Kisner, along with young players searching for a breakout win like Kurt Kitayama and Justin Suh.
For DFS, this week can be hard to predict given that we have three courses. We have seen plenty of huge surprise winners at this event and, with a weaker field, don’t be shocked if that scenario repeats itself in 2023.
Pebble Beach (main course), par 72, 7,051 yards; Greens: Poa Annua
Spyglass Hill par 72, 7,041 yards; Greens: Poa Annua
Monterey Peninsula Par 72, Par 71, 6,957 yards; Greens: Poa Annua
As mentioned above, golfers will again rotate between three courses this year, playing each course once prior to the 54-hole cut on Saturday. Even though Spyglass Hill can often play slightly tougher than Pebble Beach, it is more wind-protected, so having your player there on a windy day isn’t such a bad thing. In 2020, the weather really made things tough as Spyglass played to a 72.876 scoring average and ranked as the fifth-toughest course on the PGA TOUR, while Pebble Beach also played tough at a 72.55 scoring average and was the eighth-toughest venue on the PGA TOUR out of 41.
For showdown golf purposes on DraftKings, Monterrey plays significantly easier than the other two most years and is the most desired course to have your player on for single-day tournaments.
As far as layout goes, the host course (Pebble Beach) is a traditional par 72 with four par 5s and four par 3s. Three of the four par 5s often play under 550 yards in length and only one par 3 is over 200 yards. Even though there are some longer par 4s, length off the tee isn’t all that essential this week and the average driving distance for the field is generally 10-15 yards lower this week than the average PGA TOUR event. Many of the holes force players to club down off the tee and it’s worth noting that two of the past six winners of this event have lost strokes off the tee for the week.
Despite this being a less-than-driver course, there is still plenty of trouble lurking around Pebble Beach, and players can get in trouble both off the tee and around the green. As a result, solid approach and iron play are a must. Four of the top five finishers at this event last season gained 2.0 strokes or more on approach.
Around the green play can also be of vital importance at Pebble, especially if the wind is bad and causing more missed greens. Six of the top seven players in 2020 gained +1.2 strokes or more around the greens, while five of the top six in 2021 gained +1.2 strokes or more around the greens.
One final note: With a course rotation in play, a lot of how the tournament shapes out can depend on the weather and wind patterns. Wave stacking or course stacking is something that can be considered for classic DFS lineups, especially if we have a windy forecast (see below).
2023 Weather/Outlook: Pebble is right on the ocean and like any true seaside venue that means that we can get dramatic shifts in weather. As of writing, there does appear to be a system of heavier wind, with a little rain attached, set to come in Thursday afternoon or evening and perhaps make conditions not that great Friday morning as well. The system may not affect play much on Thursday but early Friday starters would be hampered by rain and winds of over 10 mph (along with heavier gusts). Sunday could be overcast with winds approaching 15 mph with some rain expected to fall throughout the day. It could be a slightly muted week for scoring and avoiding the very early starters on Friday may be ideal depending on how the forecast plays out.
Last five winners
2022 — Tom Hoge -19 (over Jordan Spieth -20)
2021 — Daniel Berger -18 (over Maverick McNealy -16)
2020 — Nick Taylor -19 (over Kevin Streelman -15)
2019 — Phil Mickelson -19 (over Paul Casey -16)
2018 — Ted Potter Jr. -17 (over Dustin Johnson -14)
- Since 2009, the winner at Pebble Beach (including the U.S. Open) had a T16 or better in one or more of his previous three starts at Pebble Beach — courtesy @Jude_UT4 on Twitter.
- Recent form is also important this week: Eight of the past 12 winners recorded a top 10 or better in one of their previous two starts on the PGA TOUR before winning here.
Winners Stats and Course Highlights
2022 Winner: Tom Hoge
2021 lead-in form (MC-2-MC-4-T46)
- SG: Tee to Green is again a metric to emphasize, although you can definitely look to approaches here more than off-the-tee play. The last two seasons have seen winners gain 4.0 strokes or more on approach alone.
- From a proximity perspective, Hoge gained the most strokes against the field from the 100-125 yard range and that is also the most popular basket for approaches at this event (going off data from past iterations).
- Two of the past five winners here have lost strokes off the tee and still won, so dominant off-the-tee play is simply not needed, although you don’t want your player missing every fairway either — both Berger (2021) and Hoge (2022) gained over 1.0 strokes OTT.
- The worse the weather is, the more around the green play tends to matter — five of the top-six finishers gained over +1.0 strokes around the green in 2021.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
- Kevin Kisner +10000 and $8,500
- Ben Griffin +6000 and $8,600
- Dean Burmester +5000 and $8,400
- Thomas Detry +5000 and $8,800
- Taylor Pendrith +5000 and $8,900
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jordan Spieth ($10,600; best finishes: win-2017, 2nd-2022): Spieth has played this event seven years in a row, and has never missed the cut. He holds a win and four top-10 finishes at Pebble Beach to his credit. He’s gained strokes ATG and PUTT at Pebble Beach in each of the last six seasons.
2. Nick Taylor ($8,000; best finishes: win-2020, T14-2022): Taylor won this event in 2020 in dominating fashion and has now finished top 30 at this event in each of the past four seasons. He ranks third in Strokes Gained: Total Stats at Pebble Beach (since 2017) and was a solid T7 at the Sony Open just two starts ago.
3. Kevin Streelman ($7,100; best finishes: T13-2020, T2-2019): Streelman ranks second in Strokes Gained: Total Stats at this event since 2017. He did miss the cut at this event last year, but finished top 15 between 2018-2021.
4. Troy Merritt ($7,200; best finishes: T4-2022, T8-2018): Merritt is ranked fourth in Strokes Gained: Total Stats at Pebble Beach since 2017, and has had two top 10 finishes at the event since 2018. He’s not played well to start 2023 but it was just four starts ago that he posted a T3 finish in Mexico at another shorter, seaside venue.
5. Maverick McNealy ($9,600; best finishes: T5- 2021, T2-2020): McNealy grew up playing on the West Coast. Most of his best finishes on the PGA TOUR have come on this side of the country and he’s been able to produce multiple top-five finishes at Pebble over the last three years. He was T7 at the Sony Open just two starts ago and ranks out first in Strokes Gained: Putting Stats over the last 50 rounds.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Take the savings with Fitzpatrick
Despite many of the top players skipping this event, Matthew Fitzpatrick ($10,100) has made it a priority to start at Pebble and clearly understands this setup is ideal for him given how good he is around and on the greens. The Englishman has played the Pro-Am three times now and finished a career-best T6 at this event last season. Keith Mitchell ($9,100 — see below) looks like another solid upper-tier value to build around and further down the course histories of Russell Knox ($7,500) and Matthew NeSmith ($7,300) should be viewed as major positives. NeSmith has missed three cuts in a row to start 2023, but he shot 68-65 in rounds two and three of the Amex and hasn’t missed the cut at Pebble Beach in four career starts.
Tournaments: Lipsky and Mullinax a good value combo in tournaments
Both David Lipsky ($8,200) and Trey Mullinax ($8,100) have had good results at venues that compare well to Pebble Beach, with Mullinax producing multiple top-10 finishes at TPC Southwind — a favorite venue of former Pebble Beach winner Daniel Berger. Mullinax was T31 last week but did putt well on the poa greens at Torrey Pines and has played Pebble Beach four times as a pro — making the cut at this event on each occasion. Lipsky rates out well from a stat perspective as he’s top 15 in proximity from 75-100 yards and 100-125 yards. Using both as a starting lineup combo would give you a unique core in bigger field GPPs. Other potential GPP targets this week include Kurt Kitayama ($7,500 — see below), Justin Suh ($7,300), Peter Malnati ($6,800) and Seung Yul Noh ($6,800).
1. Andrew Putnam ($9,700, T36-T4): Putnam comes into this event having made 17 cuts in a row on the PGA TOUR. He’s an elite putter who sets up well for a shorter venue.
2. Alex Smalley ($8,700, T37-T22): Smalley ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Approach stats over the last 50 rounds. He comes in having produced three top-12 finishes over his last six starts.
3. Justin Rose ($9,500, T18-T26): Rose’s play has been creeping upward of late and he gained over 2.0 strokes on approach last week in his T18 finish at the Farmers. Having made four cuts in a row, the veteran is a potential contender this week.
4. Ben Griffin ($8,600, T31-T32): Griffin has continued his solid play from last fall into 2023. The rookie has made nine cuts in a row and ranks ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach stats over the last 50 rounds.
5. Thomas Detry ($8,800, T37-T36): Detry is another PGA TOUR rookie who has been very consistent since joining last fall. He’s also made nine cuts in a row and finished second in Bermuda on another shorter seaside course just four starts ago.
MY PICK: Keith Mitchell ($9,100)
Mitchell took last week off but did keep this event on his schedule, a great sign that he likes his chances around this shorter track. The American has posted some of his best career results at similar venues, grabbing a win at the Honda Classic in 2019 and top 10 finishes at the John Deere, Travelers and the Sony Open — all events played on shorter, more technical courses.
From a ball-striking standpoint, Mitchell’s stats certainly stand out in this weaker field. He’s gained strokes on approach and off the tee in three of his last four starts, and his long game was in great form at the American Express, gaining over 2.0 strokes in both those areas. Over the last 24 rounds, he’s also shown solid improvement in his short iron play and ranks 26th in proximity in short-term form from 100-125 yards (vs. 46th in longer-term form).
Having had an extra week off, I'd expect you’ll see improvement in the rest of Mitchell’s game come soon. He placed T12 at this event last season — his best finish in five career starts — and makes for a good core play to build around in DFS in the low $9K range. At +3500 on the DraftKings Sportsbook, he’s a solid outright target for this week as well.
MY SLEEPER: Kurt Kitayama ($7,500)
Kitayama is coming off a terrible week at the Farmers where he lost 4.2 strokes putting for the week. While the result is ugly to look at, he’s a player who has already shown a propensity for rebounding quickly off of bad starts. The American finished runner-up three times last season and two of those finishes saw him miss the cut in his previous PGA TOUR start.
Part of why Kitayama has been able to get himself in contention so regularly in such a short period of time has been his ability to get hot on the greens with the flat stick. Over his last 20 starts, he’s gained over 3.5 strokes putting four times, which is a great way to offset those poor weeks as he had at the Farmers. That’s also the kind of tendency that can get a player in contention at Pebble Beach, where two of the past three winners have gained over 5.0 strokes putting.
This season will be his third time playing the event (he finished T18 in 2020) and at $7,500 you’ll likely be getting low ownership on him in big fields, which would make him a huge leverage play if he does indeed rebound on the greens. Looking at him on the DraftKings Sportsbook as an outright target also makes sense given the +7000 odds.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.