With a lot of the golf world focused at Whistling Straights this weekend, we set our sights a little more south in Monterey, California; Deep in the Del Monte Forest, Pebble Beach, to be exact, as the Champions Tour is set to play the Pure Insurance Championship.
In its 18th consecutive year at Pebble Beach, The Pure Insurance Championship will be played over both Pebble Beach and Spyglass Hill during the first two rounds, with Sunday’s final rounds taking place at Pebble Beach. Defending Champion Jim Furyk, along with a few other familiar faces, Fred Couples, Steve Stricker, and Robert Karlsson, will be absent this week, as they tend to some little tournament called the Ryder Cup.
With 81 PGA Tour Champions professionals in the field, there will still be some big names like Retief Goosen, Ernie Els, Bernard Langer, and Vijay Singh will be chasing down the $2.2 million purse.
I’m sure you have! Pebble Beach Golf Links is only one of the most famous golf courses in professional golf.
This course has hosted a few tournaments in its day, most recently the 2019 US Open and the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am annually. Measuring approximately 6,898 yards and playing at a par 71, this course is challenging. A coastal course that is exposed to the elements, the wind will play a factor anytime you play here, so as I dive into my picks for the week, I look into how well each player plays in windy conditions.
According to Jazz Sports the odds to win sit with both Steven Alker and Retief Goosen at +900. Both are viable picks to be in contention on Sunday, especially if you like riding on a player with momentum. Steven Alker is hot, and it looks like his odds reflect that. The 50-year-old Australian finished 5th at the Utah Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour last month, and since joining the Champions Tour a few months ago, has a 68.08 scoring average.
Retief Goosen is just consistent. In all major categories on the Champions Tour in the 2020-2021 season, he finished within the top-10 in all but one category, which I will touch on in a bit. In a few of the categories, I research before each tournament and how they will translate into that week’s course. Goosen ranks first on the Champions Tour in Driving Distance (298.6) and sixth in Greens in Regulation Percentage (72.29%), which are two significant factors when playing at Pebble Beach, so based on those stats, I would agree with the +900 odds. Not so fast.
If you did a bit further, you find that Goosen is fifty-fifth in Driving Accuracy Percentage (60.46%); that stat sticks out on a course like Pebble Beach and makes me shy away from him.
So, if we take the course as a significant factor of who can win the whole thing, let’s take a look at a few guys that should make some noise this weekend.
The greens at Pebble Beach are tiny, so it makes sense to look at golfers who are not only premium ball-strikers but also players who have a high percentage of greens in regulation. Kevin Sutherland leads the Champions Tour in both ball-striking and the percentage of greens in regulation. Sutherland currently sits right in the middle with +1400 golf odds, according to Jazz Sports. I think if Sutherland didn’t have injuries back in the late spring/early summer, which slowed him significantly, he would have better odds to win the whole tournament.
Sutherland is now healthy, and he knows how to win; he is a two-time winner of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship and finished tied for tenth at Pebble Beach last September.
He is a nine-time PGA Tour Winner and has played Pebble Beach 10-times over his career. He currently sits at +5000 odds to win the whole thing, according to Jazz Sports.
Who is it? Our old friend Stuart Appleby. Remember him? The 54-year-old Australian has not played on the PGA Tour since 2019, and oh, by the way, is making his PGA Tour Champions debut this week. So, I would not be surprised to look at the leaderboard on Sunday morning and see Appleby in contention.
So, who will win it all this weekend? I like Steve Flesch. He comes in playing really well lately; in fact, the 54-year-old has three top-four finishes in his last five events played on the PGA Tour Champions, including last week when he finished second at the 2021 Sanford International last week.
Over those starts, he has accumulated a 53-under-par. Flesch sits in the middle of the pack with +1400 odds to win it all, so the oddsmakers aren’t even sure what to make of a bunch of these guys. The one stat that stands out for me is 87.04%. That’s the percentage of greens that Flesch hit last week on the way to his second-place finish, which means he is trending in the right direction at the right time as he hits Pebble Beach. Speaking of Pebble Beach, Flesch finished sixth in this tournament last year, so the conditions at Pebble won’t affect his game at all.
|Golfer||Odds to win the Pure Insurance Championship|
|WES SHORTH JR||+4500|
|FIELD (ANY OTHER)||+400|
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