Day the Pebble Beach favourite?

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The bookies have installed Jason Day as the favourite at this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but there are a number of likely contenders in the mix.

The tournament can be a tough one to follow in terms of scoring, with three courses – Pebble Beach Golf Links, Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club – being used over the four days of competition and not all of them playing to the same par.

Only after 54 holes do all the players congregate to play the same final round at Pebble, and by that time a potential winner should be easier to identify.

While celebrities like Andy Roddick, Don Cheadle, Chris O’Donnell, Kid Rock, Ray Ramano and Kurt Russell will join in on the fun for the pro-am, the real action will of course be among the pros, and there are several players who appear to be in good form heading into the tournament.

Jason Day is the favourite with the bookies this week, with the Australian securing a top-15 finish in each of his last seven starts. Day is also coming off a T2 at Torrey Pines, and has two sixth places to his name at Pebble.

But he’s far from the only player to stake a claim. Phil Mickelson is back in action, and said he was able to play without any back pain at last week’s Phoenix Open.

The World No 4 has four victories at the venue to his name already. A fifth would tie him alongside Mark O’Meara, dubbed the “King of Pebble Beach”, for all-time wins.

Mickelson was happy with his short game and his driving last week, and reckons he just needs to sort out his iron play. Should he do that, expect to see his name near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Hunter Mahan can’t be discounted either. Coming off a fourth place in Scottsdale, the American seems to be in good form, and is more than capable of winning.

Current FedEx Cup leader Jimmy Walker has already won this year. He missed the cut last week due to illness, but should be a contender now that he’s feeling healthy again. He’s finished in the top 10 in his last three visits to Pebble Beach as well, so something about the picturesque setting appears to agree with him.

Then there is two-time AT&T champ Dustin Johnson, who will be making his first start since his T6 finish at Kapalua earlier in January. Johnson is playing well and has played superbly at Pebble Beach in the past, making him a strong contender for the title.

The most enticing name amongst the European contingent is that of Graeme McDowell. G-Mac loves Pebble Beach, due in no small part to his 2010 US Open victory coming at the venue, and he’ll be hoping to feed off those memories to great effect. Four top-20 finishes in his last four starts also suggests McDowell isn’t that far off.

For the armchair enthusiasts and those not lucky enough to be in the thick of the action, Pebble Beach is one of the more impressive and striking venues to appreciate from the comfort of your own home, so be sure to make a date with your sofa when the action tees off on Thursday.

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