Sobel’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Betting Predictions & Picks: Should You Buy Jordan Spieth at This Course?
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Spieth
- Jordan Spieth has historically performed pretty well at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, securing a win and two other top-7 finishes to far in his career.
- His betting odds are longer than they've been in recent memory, given his poor current form, but is now the time to pick Spieth?
- Jason Sobel digs deep into the field and picks out his favorite bet to win, top-10 and top-20, along with some matchup bets and DFS plays that you should be looking to target.
There are plenty of ways to describe the precipitous decline of Jordan Spieth’s game, from hardcore analytics to a quick perusal of his results table. Each of these paths immediately points to the same conclusion: He was really good and, right now, he isn’t.
It happens. Golf is a cyclical game, the ebbs and flows and ups and downs are all part of its intrinsic mystifying nature. When we speak about the historically greatest figures at their peaks – think Tiger Woods, circa early-2000s – it’s not just their dominance that is so impressive, it’s the longevity of that dominance.
Any PGA Tour player with full status can play one great tournament. Most can string together two in a row. The more proficient players can keep that streak going, but only the best of the best continue without a single downturn from those results.
We collectively believed that Spieth was one of the best of the best – and it’s true, he was – but over the past few years, he’s succumbed to the career mortality of so many before him.
If we could only employ one statistic to exemplify this decline, it might not be strokes gained with his approach shots or putting average or any other tangible on-course number. Instead, let’s take a look at his pre-tournament odds for the past half-dozen editions of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, plus that price for this week’s event, all courtesy of GolfOdds.com.
I mention all of this not to pile on Spieth or try to “figure him out,” but because a month ago, prior to the start of this year’s schedule, I had Pebble earmarked as a tournament where he could find some rejuvenation and rekindle some momentum.
Maybe it’s those strong previous results. Maybe it’s a comparably weaker field. Maybe it’s playing three different courses and not having to dwell on the previous day’s poor shots. Maybe it’s an overall comfort level, everything from having AT&T as a sponsor to enjoying the low-key vibe of the festivities.
Or maybe it’s none of the above.
I’ve officially transitioned from “this could be the week that gets Spieth going” to “fade, fade, fade, fade, fade” back to “the light at the end of the tunnel might start here.”
Following a missed cut at last week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open, Spieth spoke about the outward frustration he’s endured with his game lately.
“I just really wanted it; I wanted to play the weekend,” he said. “I knew once I started hitting those tee balls down the fairway to start the round today, I knew I was going to give myself plenty of opportunities. I couldn’t do the easy part for me, which is the putting. That’s what was so frustrating. It hasn’t been like that. It’s been putting saving me and today it was kind of a little bit of the opposite. So any emotion was just kind of a want or a will. It’s not like overall frustration. I’ve got, I’ve had plenty of that. I’m done with that, I’m on the rebound now.”
Not to play amateur psychologist, but Spieth sounded like he was trying to convince himself of that last part as much as anyone else. Can’t blame him, it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. No struggling golfer ever admits, “Something is very wrong, because whatever I do, I just can’t get that damned ball into that stupid little hole in the ground right now.” Instead, they say things like, “I’m done with that, I’m on the rebound now.”
That said, he wasn’t wrong. For a guy whose putter has bailed him out for years, picking up 2.49 strokes on the field from tee-to-green that round at least provides some solace that all the parts are there. Now he just has to put them together at the same time, a quandary which has haunted so many golfers before him.
Long-term, I’m still cautiously optimistic about Spieth. I’ve witnessed him play too much brilliant golf at too many big-time events to believe he’ll spend the rest of his career as a middling, ordinary golfer. As I’ve continually stated about him over the past year or two, I probably wouldn’t be gobbling up shares of his stock right now, but I also wouldn’t be selling ‘em off at an all-time low.
Short-term, though, I’ve gone from thinking this is a perfect week to jump on Spieth with deflated odds to thinking I wouldn’t touch him with a 10-foot ball retriever to now at least considering him for low-stakes payoffs — say, a top-10 wager and stuck in the middle of a few DFS lineups.
Sure, there’s a chance that he could use this week as a much-needed springboard toward the major championships. And yes, we could back him now with a chance of returning next week with an I-told-you-so missive, but the signs aren’t pointing in that direction.
I wish, for his sake and ours, that they were – and I still think that, at some point, they will be. He’s too talented to not figure it all out, but right now, he’s also probably too anxious to figure it out immediately.
Let’s get to the players I’m not fading this week, starting with one of Spieth’s fellow Class of ’11 buddies who is dissimilarly trending in the right direction.