This event has been transformed into one of four PGA TOUR Signature events for 2024. What that means is that instead of the typical 154-man field we generally see at this event (with a three-day cut line) we now have a condensed field of just 80 golfers with no weekend cut. Despite the changes, this event will still maintain some of its original charm.
Players will play on two different courses for the first two days of the event with each player getting in one round on Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach (host course). Amateurs will still be a part of the proceedings as well. However, the amateur/Pro-Am portion of the event will only last until Friday this season, and on the weekend the pros will dominate the spotlight. The final two rounds will be “pro-only” and both be played at the classic Pebble Beach layout.
The glitz and glamour of this event will be cut down significantly (don’t expect to see Bill Murray dancing with old ladies in the crowd) but the tradeoff is the field, which is significantly stronger than normal. Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Viktor Hovland are all teeing it up this week with 18 of the world’s top 20 players in attendance.
For DFS, this event has produced a lot of longshot winners in the past, but with the changes to the field, structure, and setup it’s hard to say how the 2024 version will play out.
Pebble Beach (main course), par 72, 7,051 yards; Greens: Poa Annua
Spyglass Hill par 72, 7,041 yards; Greens: Poa Annua
As mentioned above, golfers will again rotate between just two courses this year, playing each course once prior to the weekend where the entire pro field will move to Pebble Beach. 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. These courses are short but when the wind is up the smaller greens in play make them extremely difficult.
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 (either due to doglegs or shorter fairways) and it’s worth noting that three of the past seven winners of this event have lost strokes off the tee for the week; including last year’s winner Justin Rose (-0.4 OTT in 2023).
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, a solid approach game and iron play are a must. Six of the top 10 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, and last year’s winner Justin Rose gained 2.6 strokes ATG.
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 but more importantly, course stacking, is something that can be considered for classic DFS lineups, especially if we have a windy forecast (see below).
2024 Weather/Outlook: The weather at this event can be very hit or miss and this year’s event looks like it will have some unseasonably cool temperatures. Highs for all four days aren’t expected to climb past 58F and there is at least some light rain expected to fall on three of the four days (as of writing). Wave stacking for DFS at this event may be problematic as well. The pros will go off on different courses each day but in very condensed time slots. Course stacking this week is likely the better option. Spyglass Hill is far more protected than Pebble Beach and with winds on Friday looking slightly higher than Thursday, that could be advantageous for the players who are on Spyglass for the second day. All-in-all, expect the weather to potentially make short games more important at Pebble Beach once again as the small greens are already some of the hardest to hit on the PGA.
Last five winners
2023— Justin Rose -18 (over Brendon Todd and Brandon Wu -15)
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)
- 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 13 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
2023 Winner: Justin Rose
2023 lead-in form (T18-T26-T29-T9-MC)
- SG: Tee to Green is again a metric to emphasize, although you can look to approaches here more than off-the-tee play. The last three seasons have seen winners gain over 2.5 strokes on approach alone.
- From a proximity perspective, Tom Hoge in 2022 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).
- Three of the past six winners at Pebble Beach have lost strokes off the tee, 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. Last year’s winner Justin Rose was sixth in SG: ATG for the week (2.6)
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.
- Jordan Spieth +1800 and $9,400
- Patrick Cantlay +1800 and $9,700
- Justin Thomas +2500 and $9,600
- Cameron Young +3500 and $8,700
- Sam Burns +3500 and $8,900
- Tom Kim +4500 and $8,100
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jordan Spieth ($9,400; best finishes: win-2017, 2nd-2022): Spieth has played this event eight 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 five of the last six seasons.
2. Nick Taylor ($7,200; 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 five seasons. He ranks first in Strokes Gained: Total Stats at Pebble Beach (since 2018) and was a solid T7 at the Sony Open just two starts ago.
3. Jason Day ($8,400; best finishes: T4-2020, T2-2018): Day has been a perennial contender at this event throughout his career. The Aussie has always putted well on Poa and has landed five top-five finishes at Pebble Beach over the last decade. He comes in off a missed cut but always seems to find some of his mojo for this event.
4. Patrick Cantlay ($9,700; best finishes: T4-2022, T3-2021): Cantlay finished in the top five at this event in both 2021 and 2022. He’s tended to dominate when placed on these shorter seaside venues as he also has a great record at Harbour Town Golf Links. He’s not looked sharp to begin the season but seeing a step up in form from him this week would not be shocking.
5. Maverick McNealy ($6,200; 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’s been fighting his way back from injury of late but his T37 last week at Torrey Pines was encouraging.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Spieth and Fitzpatrick set up well
It’s hard to argue with the prices we’re getting on Jordan Spieth ($9,400) or Matthew Fitzpatrick ($8,200). From a setup and recent form perspective, both of these players look well undervalued. Spieth has won at this venue before and looked solid in his lone start at the Sentry while Fitzpatrick finished top five at this venue in 2021 and also grabbed a win at the very comparable Harour Town Golf Links last season. Using both men gives you a good core to build around and leaves plenty of salary to work with for the rest of your lineup. Further down, names like Russell Henley ($7,800) and Christian Bezuidenhout ($6,900) also stand out as good sources of value. Both men have put in top-five finishes already this year and have solid approach/around the green games to help them navigate this tricky setup.
Tournaments: Play the Morikawa rebound
The top of the board is littered with high-end options this week which may help keep the ownership low on a player like Collin Morikawa ($9,100), who missed the cut in horrific fashion last week. The American looked locked in for most of his first round, but faded quickly in round two, shooting a 75 on the bigger South Course. Morikawa’s lack of Pebble experience may keep his ownership low as well, but his elite iron play (7th in SG: APP) should help immensely. Overall, he’s had lots of success on the west coast and his long-term form has been trending more up than down of late. Further down, Denny McCarthy ($7,500) is a name to consider for GPP lineups given the course in play, as is Si Woo Kim ($7,300) who played some nice golf in his last start. Some names to consider under 7k this week include Patrick Rodgers ($6,900), Andrew Putnam ($6,800), Kurt Kitayama ($6,600 - see below), and Brandon Wu ($6,300), who finished T2 here last season.
1. Mathieu Pavon ($7,100, win-T39-T7): Pavon won the first PGA event of his career last week. The Frenchman birdied his last hole to book the win and gained 5.4 strokes on approach in the process.
2. Ludwig Aberg ($9,000, T9-T30): Aberg got rolling again last week, ending the week in T9 after a solid final round. He gained 6.8 strokes ball-striking alone last week.
3. Taylor Montgomery ($6,800, T18-T26): Montgomery finished T13 last week, his third top 20 finish in four starts. He doesn't have a ton of experience playing Pebble but sets up well, regardless.
4. Stephan Jaeger ($7,300, T3-T52): Jaeger had the lead for much of the weekend at the Farmers. A couple of missteps cost him late but the German hasn’t missed a cut in 19 starts and gained over 4.5 strokes on approach at Torrey Pines.
5. Alex Noren ($7,200, T25-T42): Noren ranks well in the recent form department and sets up as a bit of a sleeper coming into this week. He’s made seven cuts in a row now with two top-five finishes over that span.
MY PICK: Xander Schauffele (10,000)
This event has treated players who come in with solid form and good course history well. As mentioned above the past winners at this event over the last decade or so are all players who have had some kind of result (top 20 or better) at Pebble Beach in their very recent past (last three Pebble Beach starts or so). Schauffele was far from a regular at the Pro-Am iteration of this event but did play here in 2019 at the US Open and finished a solid T3. The 30-year-old is also a San Diego native who is very familiar with this part of the world and feels well overdue for booking a win in this portion of the United States. He’s also just overdue, in general, from a form perspective.
Schauffele’s last win came at the 2022 Scottish Open but since that win he’s booked 13 top-10 finishes, including T3 and T9 finishes at the recent American Express and Farmers Insurance Open. Schauffele’s also proven to have the kind of all-around game that can play well at these tricky venues (4th at Hilton Head 2023, 2nd TPC Sawgrass 2018, 3rd Pebble Beach 2019) and comes into this event ranked 3rd in strokes gained total and 5th in strokes gained approach stats over the last 50 rounds of play.
Despite that, he remains an affordable core play at just 10k flat and likely won’t see outlandish ownership given the cheaper salaries of Jordan Spieth ($9,400) and Patrick Cantlay ($9,700). At +1200 to win on the DraftKings Sportsbook, he’s also a player to consider for betting given both his form and great history of booking wins in these reduced field events.
MY SLEEPER: Kurt Kitayama ($7,500)
Looking back to last season, Kitayama was my sleeper at this event and entered the weekend at the top of the leaderboard. He self-destructed on Sunday to finish T29 but the West Coast native proved he’s someone who can handle himself around this layout. He used the close call at this event last season to launch himself to a win against an elite field at the Arnold Palmer and looks to be in solid form heading into this year’s iteration once again.
While he struggled with consistency after grabbing his first win, Kitayama comes in having made the cut in each of his last six full-field events and produced a solid T24 in his last start at the Sony Open — an event where he shot 62 in the second round of play. Stating the obvious, Waialae Country Club does set up very similar to Pebble Beach in many ways (smaller greens, tight setup, seaside venue) so expecting to see some continuation in form from Kitayama isn’t outlandish. He’s also struck his irons well of late, gaining strokes on approach in five straight starts, and gained 4.0 strokes on approach at the season-opening Sentry TOC alone.
This season will be his fourth time playing this event (he finished T18 in 2020) and at $6,600 you’ll likely be getting pretty low ownership on him in big fields. Considering how he’s elevated his play for some of the biggest events in his career thus far (win at API, T4 at PGA Championship) looking at him on the DraftKings Sportsbook as a top 10/20 bet also makes sense given the +750/+280 odds.
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All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook, lines and odds subject to change.
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.