2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Van Rooyen, Suh Among Course Fits

2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Van Rooyen, Suh Among Course Fits article feature image

Pictured: Erik van Rooyen. (Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Getty Images)

The PGA TOUR heads to beautiful Pebble Beach this week to play the 2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

The tournament will once again feature a three-course rotation utilizing Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club. The golfers will play one round at each course before a 54-hole cut with the final round being played at Pebble Beach.

The field this week is made up of 156 players, including Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jordan Spieth and Viktor Hovland.

Pebble Beach Golf Links is a par-72 measuring 6,828 yards and featuring Poa Annua greens. Spyglass Hill is a par-72 measuring 7,035 yards, and Monterey Peninsula is a par-71 measuring 6,958 yards.

We've backtested past tournaments at Pebble Beach Golf Links to see which metrics matter most this week.

Past Winners at The Pebble Beach AT&T Pro-Am

  • 2022: Tom Hoge (-19)
  • 2021: Daniel Berger (-18)
  • 2020: Nick Taylor (-19)
  • 2019: Phil Mickelson (-19)
  • 2018: Ted Potter Jr. (-17)
  • 2017: Jordan Spieth (-19)
  • 2016: Vaughn Taylor (-17)
  • 2015: Brandt Snedeker (-22)

Let's take a look at several metrics for Pebble Beach Golf Links to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds:

Strokes Gained: Approach

Unsurprisingly, approach grades out as the most important statistic for Pebble Beach.

On a shorter course, approaches to the green are understandably more indicative of success than smashing it off of the tee. With very small greens, Pebble Beach is undoubtedly a second-shot golf course.

Total Strokes Gained: Approach in Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Tom Hoge (+33.6) (+2000)
  2. Russell Knox (+23.5) (+6500)
  3. James Hahn (+18.3) (+25000)
  4. Ben Griffin (+17.0) (+6500)
  5. Erik Van Rooyen (+16.1) (+7500)

SG: Total on Par 72s Under 7200 Yards

Pebble Beach is uniquely short for a par-72. This statistic will give a glimpse as to what kind of golfers play well on these types of courses.

SG: Total in Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Tom Hoge (+43.4) (+2000)
  2. Lanto Griffin (+41.8) (+7500)
  3. Webb Simpson (+40.0) (+10000)
  4. Justin Rose (+33.5) (+2800)
  5. Jordan Spieth (+32.3) (+900)

Strokes Gained: Putting (Poa and Fast)

With the course being so short, one of its main defenses is its fast Poa Annua greens. Strokes Gained: Putting has historically been extremely important here, as evidenced by former winners (Spieth, Mickelson, Snedeker).

SG: Putting (POA and Fast) Last 24 Rounds:

  1. Jonas Blixt (+48.5) (+30000)
  2. Kevin Kisner (+41.2) (+8000)
  3. Maverick McNealy (+38.2) (+2200)
  4. Denny McCarthy (+36.2) (+3500)
  5. J.B. Holmes (+35.5) (+30000)

Course History

Pebble Beach has historically been a specialist's course.  Every winner of this event since 2006 has a top-21 finish in a previous appearance. 

Total Strokes Gained (Pebble Beach+ Spyglass Hill+ Monterey Peninsula): Gained per Round in Past 24 Rounds

  1. Kevin Streelman (+48.5) (+9000)
  2. Jordan Spieth (+41.2) (+900)
  3. Nick Taylor (+38.2) (+6000)
  4. Maverick McNealy (+36.2) (+2200)
  5. Scott Stallings (+35.5) (+6500)

Birdies or Better Gained

With the winning score likely to get close to 20-under par, making birdies is a must this week.

B.O.B. Gained: Past 24 Rounds

  1. Viktor Hovland (+18.4) (+1100)
  2. Ben Griffin (+18.1) (+6500)
  3. Seamus Power (+16.9) (+2200)
  4. Matthew NeSmith (+16.6) (+8000)
  5. Maverick McNealy (+15.3) (+2200)

Statistical Model

Below, I've reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.

These rankings are comprised of SG: App (30.4%), Birdie or Better Gained (18.6%), SG: Putting Poa and Fast (17.8%), Course History (17%) and Short Par 72 (16.5%).

  1. Viktor Hovland (+1100)
  2. Ben Griffin (+6500)
  3. Seamus Power (+2200)
  4. Matthew NeSmith (+8000)
  5. Maverick McNealy (+2200)
  6. Joel Dahmen (+4000)
  7. Alex Smalley (+5000)
  8. Will Gordon (+7500)
  9. Matthias Schmid (+12500)
  10. Thomas Detry (+5000)

2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Picks

Erik Van Rooyen +9000 (DraftKings)

Erik Van Rooyen was excellent in his most recent start at The American Express. He gained 8.2 strokes from tee to green in his two rounds at the Stadium Course and shot an impressive Sunday round of 62, which was tied for the low round of the day. The round propelled him to a sixth-place finish that I believe he can build off of this week at Pebble Beach.

Last season, EVR's two best finishes came at The PLAYERS Championship and the RBC Heritage, which are two relatively short courses. His top 10 at The American Express also fits the bill as a shorter course that he's had success on. The trio of courses at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am are all very short. The best defense at Pebble Beach is wind, and Van Rooyen excels in windy conditions. The 32-year-old gains almost a stroke on the field per round in extremely windy conditions.

Van Rooyen has only won the Barracuda Championship in August of 2021, but I believe he has the talent to take another step forward on the PGA TOUR this season.

Beau Hossler +8500 (FanDuel)

While we're on the topic of former amateur superstars from California, Beau Hossler also fits the bill. The 27-year-old grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, which is only a few hours away from Pebble Beach.

Hossler finished in solo third place at last year's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and gained 4.1 strokes putting in two rounds at Pebble Beach Golf Links. While he struggles to keep up with the best players in the world at longer tracks, he can catch a hot putter in this event. He should be comfortable on the greens and has had a few warmup events as he debuted his season at The American Express and played in last week's Farmers Insurance Open.

Last year, Hossler had to contend with Jordan Spieth and Tom Hoge at the top of the leaderboard. In one of the weakest fields we will see all year, there's a chance the few big names don't rise to the top this year, and Hossler has a better shot to win if he gets in contention.

Justin Suh +10000 (FanDuel)

Not too long ago, Justin Suh was sitting at a press conference beside Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff. The group was pegged as the next crop of stars ascending to the PGA TOUR, but Suh's path (along with Wolff's, but for different reasons) has diverged from the others.

While Morikawa and Hovland have already become stars, Suh has just found himself on TOUR three years after graduating from USC.

Speaking of Southern California, Suh is plenty familiar with West Coast golf. The 23-year-old was a four-time All-American and eight-time winner as a Trojan. He's had limited success thus far on the PGA TOUR, but what success he's had has been on the West Coast.

In 2020, which was a season filled with adversity, Suh finished eighth at TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas. He's also begun to play some decent golf during the current California swing. The results have been encouraging but unspectacular. He gained 2.2 strokes putting at The American Express and another 4.2 at last week's Farmers Insurance Open, where his finished in 20th in the strong field. Historically, he's loved putting on West Coast Poa Annua greens.

A weaker field event on a short track is a good spot to buy low on Suh and hope he can make strides toward fulfilling his potential.

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Troy Merritt +11000 (DraftKings)

Troy Merritt is another golfer who was in contention at last year's AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He finished in fourth place and gained 4.5 strokes on approach and 2.8 strokes putting. Merritt has also played well at Pebble Beach in the past and has finishes of 16th, 25th and eighth in his last three trips prior to last season's effort.

Merritt is the type of player who can really benefit from playing on a shorter course and in a weaker field. He has two PGA TOUR victories at the Quicken Loans National (-18) and the Barbasol Championship (-23) which are both events with scores in the range that the expected winning score will be this week.

In his past 24 rounds at the three courses in this week's rotation, Merritt ranks sixth in the field in Strokes Gained: Total, gaining 1.7 per round. He also ranks seventh in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting on Poa Annua green surfaces.

The 37-year-old can occasionally have a ceiling week with his irons, which coupled with his ability to get hot with the putter makes him a real contender this week.

Scott Piercy +13000 (DraftKings)

Scott Piercy was in contention on the PGA TOUR as recently as July at the 3M Open before ultimately falling apart down the stretch. The combination of a red-hot Tony Finau and a Sunday 76 was too much to overcome for Piercy, but the taste of contention after a few down years could prove useful if he gets in the mix this week.

Piercy has a strong history at Pebble Beach with three top-20 finishes in his past five trips to the event. The 44-year-old flashed some exquisite iron play at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, gaining 5.2 strokes on the field in an event that featured a much stronger field than he will be up against this week. The four-time PGA TOUR winner is past his prime, but this is an event where older players have come through with victories in the recent past.

Danny Willett +18000 (FanDuel)

Although he can be wildly inconsistent, Danny Willett is a player that offers win equity. The Englishman has eight professional victories to his name, including a major championship win at the 2016 Masters. At triple-digit odds in one of the weakest field events in the PGA TOUR season, he offers incredible value in the win-only market.

In addition to his successful DP World Tour career, Willett almost won over the swing season at the Fortinet Championship. A bad three-putt on the 18th hole cost him the event, but the fact that he got deep into contention in the state of California can only be a good thing for this week’s event at Pebble Beach.

He also played in the 2019 U.S. Open and finished in 12th place gaining 5.0 strokes from tee to green and 3.8 strokes putting. Another aspect that may be overlooked is Willett’s success at pro-ams in the past. The 35-year-old won the 2021 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which is a pro-am with a three-course rotation similar to what he’ll face this week.

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