by Larry Josephson, Top Market Sports
The Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which draws a large TV audience as much for the scenery as it does for fans eager to see Bill Murray act a fool, tees off on Thursday. Here’s a look at five players bettors should consider:
Dustin Johnson (+450) – He’s No. 1 in the world, he’s already got a win under his belt this season, and he’s won this event twice (2009, 2010). What’s not to like about his chances this time around? Johnson looks like he's completely recovered from the lower back injury incurred just before last year’s Masters and cost him quite a bit of cash as he struggled to recover through the summer. But that was then, and this is now. Folks in his camp believe that a healthy DJ is capable of a Tiger-like 2018 with 8 to 10 victories when all is said and done.
Jordan Spieth (+1000) – Not even Spieth is sure what happened this past weekend in Phoenix, where he missed the cut and putted poorly (62 putts in 36 holes). Spieth is the defending champ at this event though, and that alone should earn him a spot in the conversation. Phoenix might have been a one-off, because prior to the Waste Management he had a streak of seven straight Top 10 finishes as he fought off the effects of a late-fall bout with mononucleosis.
Matt Kuchar (+3000) – Kuchar is on the come, with a T6 in Phoenix giving him momentum heading into Monterrey Peninsula. Were it not for an opening-round 71 in Arizona, Kuchar would've been right in the mix after 68-64-67 on Friday/Saturday/Sunday. He’s the top ranked putter on Tour so far this season. This should enhance his chances in northern California this week, as these tracks reward players who are adept with the flat stick.
Patrick Reed (+2800) – Like Kuchar, Reed put together three solid rounds this past weekend, tying Justin Thomas for 17th. His strong 66-69-67 finish probably put him in a good frame of mind for Pebble Beach. His wife recently gave birth, so he understandably hasn’t been that active early on. He should be plenty rested just as his game is rounding into form.
Kevin Streelman (+6500) – Here's a bit of a dark horse. Streelman has only one top-10 finish this season, but he 's been solidly under par in his last five starts (averaging 8 under in his last five events and 7 under in his last 8). Streelman rarely gets rattled, which keeps him away from big numbers and in contention. He posted a solid -7 (T-14) last year at this tournament.