Johnson and Mickelson are horses for the three courses at AT & T
The US Open has been played at Pebble Beach five times, most recently when Graeme McDowell became the first European winner of that major for 40 years and it’s always a treat to watch golf at such a beautiful coastal setting – especially if you manage to find the winner!
The AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is a bit of a misnomer, in as much that two of the four rounds are played on other courses (Spyglass Hill and Monterey Peninsula Country Club), but everybody plays the last round at the legendary links and it’s something of a horses-for-courses affair as far as the Americans are concerned.
Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson have won the event five times between them in the past nine years and it is perhaps no coincidence that they were also seriously involved in that US Open. Indeed, had Johnson not dropped five shots on the first three holes in the final round, he might well have broken his major duck instead of McDowell.
Johnson certainly catches the eye to triumph for a third time at Coral’s 12/1, while Mickelson (14/1), who is chasing his fifth AT & T title, can never be ignored, even when his bad back flares up, which it has been in recent weeks.
The tournament has been won by non-Americans only three times since its inception as the Bing Crosby Pro-Am in 1937 and only once, by Vijay Singh, in the past 20 years.
So it probably makes more sense to gravitate more towards golfers like last year’s winner, Brandt Snedeker (33/1) and rapidly rising US star Jordan Spieth (16/1) than it does Australian Jason Day (9/1 favourite) or any of the European contingent trying their luck.
Even so, it will be fascinating to see how the steadily progressing Spaniard Rafael Cabrero-Bello and exciting young Frenchman Victor Dubuisson (both 66/1) measure up against the home favourites.
Spieth is such a precocious talent that I am tempted to back him every time he pegs it up, a betting tactic employed to good effect when Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy first burst on the scene.
But there’s the ‘London bus’ factor to consider. Kevin Stadler (40/1) won his first PGA event at the 239th attempt when capturing the Phoenix Open last weekend, a victory which has got him into the US Masters alongside his father Craig (The Walrus), who won the Augusta major back in 1982 when his son was still in nappies.
But meanwhile ‘The Smallrus’ might be developing a winning habit and it would be no great surprise to see him shine again in a tournament he finished tied third in last year. Coral’s 8/1 a top-five finish also makes appeal.