2021 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Buys & Fades: Looking Back and Ahead Using Strokes Gained Data
Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Spieth.
Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open was a bit underwhelming for the first few hours, as only James Hahn seemed to be playing well for the first nine holes. Then, as the top of the leaderboard turned into the scoring holes down the back stretch, the fireworks started to go off all around.
There was one point with the final group on their 15th hole when 10 players were within just two shots of the lead, and one of them was Brooks Koepka playing the 17th. He would hit a drive right of the short par 4, in a seemingly difficult position.
So Koepka stepped up and chipped in for eagle to separate himself from the field by two shots.
Brooks would take it home from there as Xander Schauffele and Jordan Spieth would both put it in the water on that same 17th, effectively ending their chances to win. Koepka would secure his second win at TPC Scottsdale, and pay off some nice +5000 pre-tournament tickets.
The TOUR will now head back to the California coast for the AT&T Pebble Beach, which will be without the amateurs this year. There are plenty of players making the trip back west from Phoenix and looking to roll good results into more success at Pebble Beach.
3 Buys for the AT&T Pebble Beach
Despite the final round struggles for Jordan Spieth, it’s hard not to be encouraged by what he did in Phoenix. Spieth gained 1.53 strokes on average tee-to-green for the week. Much of that was boosted by his incredible third round, during which he gained 5.42 shots on the field, but it’s still reflective of a good week for the three-time major champion.
Spieth was on fire with his irons throughout the tournament, leading the field by gaining 7.85 shots on approach at the Waste Management. He even gained nearly a full shot on the field with his irons in the final round on Sunday, showing that aspect of his game appears to be back.
I’m willing to go back to Spieth this week in part because of his results, but also because it’s a course that has always fit his game. In 10 trips to Pebble Beach for the AT&T he has five top-10 finishes, including a win in 2017. He will be able to hit less than driver in many spots to mitigate his off-the-tee issues, and we know his putter is always a weapon.
Another player with an affinity for the AT&T Pebble Beach tournaments is Kevin Streelman. He has three consecutive top-10 finishes and five straight results in the top 20.
Streelman will also come into the new week with some positive momentum after quietly finishing in a tie for 22nd in Arizona. He did it by gaining 6.49 strokes on the field tee-to-green. He too was carried by his approach play, gaining more than a stroke per round in that category. Streelman is a name that may get a bit of attention due to his course history, but his recent play will back it up too.
We have seen some good play from Brendan Steele to start the new year, and he continued that in Phoenix. Steele finished third in strokes gained tee-to-green on the week, behind only runner-up K.H. Lee and Koepka.
Steele was carried by his off-the-tee game, in which he was the best player in the field, averaging 1.26 strokes gained per round. He was up and down with his irons but solid around the greens.
Steele finished in a tie for 30th because he was unable to figure out the Bermudagrass greens at TPC Scottsdale where he lost an average of 1.3 strokes putting each round. He will be one player that is happy to go back to his preferred poa annua greens this week. Steele will look to carry his ball striking momentum into the new week and should have a chance to improve on this result with improved putting.