Liverpool FC: Christmas Crack Me Up Challenge
This year’s tournament takes on increased significance with Pebble Beach hosting the US Open in the summer. Players will be confronted with an easier test this week though with the pro-am format making it more accessible for the amateurs.
During the first three days, the field will rotate between Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and the Monterey Peninsula. The final round will take place at the 6,816-yard par 72 Pebble Beach where cold and wet coastal conditions in California are likely to play into the hands of the bigger hitters.
Dustin Johnson is 5/1 favourite for the tournament but the course specialist is likely to take all the beating this week. The world number three claimed his first victory of the year last weekend after winning the Saudi International. Johnson was in imperious form as he shot 19-under-par for a two shot victory.
Johnson will be relishing competing at one of his favourite courses in the world and in this form looks difficult to keep out of the frame. The American has won twice at Pebble Beach and also should have won the US Open at the course in 2010. Johnson has been a consistent presence on the leaderboard in this event with five other top five finishes. He has won 19 times on the PGA Tour and Johnson must have a great chance of sealing a 20th triumph this weekend.
Phil Mickelson has an exceptional track record at Pebble Beach and could threaten a fifth title at the links this weekend. Lefty’s first win came in 1998 and his most recent victory was in 2012. Alongside these victories, Mickelson has consistently excelled at the tournament with eight top tens in his last 14 visits. He has also finished runner-up in two of the last three years.
Mickelson is a West Coast specialist and came agonisingly close to a 44th PGA Tour title a couple of weeks ago when he was edged into second place by shock winner Adam Long at the Desert Classic. His missed cut at the Phoenix Open was a surprise but the 48-year-old should quickly put this behind him at one of his most cherished courses. Mickelson merits support at 25/1 each way.
Brandt Snedeker is another player with multiple victories at Pebble Beach and looks generously priced at 50/1. The American won at the iconic links in 2013 and repeated the success two years later. He also finished fourth in 2017 and eighth at the US Open in 2010 so this is a course proven performer that adores returning to the links.
Snedeker won his ninth PGA Tour title, four of which have come in California, at the Wyndham Championship back in August. His form at the start of 2019 has been indifferent but he so often comes alive at Pebble Beach and can handle tough weather conditions, as he showed in his win at Torrey Pines in 2016. Snedeker looks a strong each way contender this week at one of his most successful tournaments.
Patrick Rodgers is still looking for his maiden PGA Tour title but the American could be worth backing at a big price to get into contention this week. He was desperately unlucky to miss out on the RSM Classic after losing a play-off to Charles Howell III in November. Rodgers shot rounds of 61 and 62 on the weekend to surge through the field at another coastal course.
Rodgers has yet to take this form into 2019 although a return to Pebble Beach should spark positive vibes. The 26-year-old finished tied eighth on his debut here 12 months ago and has shown a real liking for West Coast golf. Rodgers was also fourth at Torrey Pines in 2017 and he looks worth chancing both at 150/1 in the outright market and 14/1 for a top ten finish.
Dustin Johnson 5/1
Phil Mickelson EW 25/1
Brandt Snedeker EW 50/1
Patrick Rodgers 150/1
Patrick Rodgers top 10 14/1