Kurt Kitamaya from the U.S. follows his ball on the 2nd hole during the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020.
Kurt Kitamaya from the U.S. follows his ball on the 2nd hole during the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship golf tournament in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020.|Kamran Jebreili | Associated Press

Golf: Kern picks the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and likes 4, including Kurt Kitayama

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

OK, so last week in Phoenix we did OK but not well enough. Bubba Watson was one of our picks, at 28-1, and he finished third, three shots out of the playoff. I also said to play him to finish in the top five, so that would have at least gotten you some of your money back. Never a bad thing. I also gave out Byeong Hun An, at 60-1 or so, and he tied for ninth. Again, you could have also put a little something on him to get a top 10 and it would have paid off. And our other two plays, Hideki Matsuyama and J.B. Holmes, tied for 16th. Hideki was one of the favorites, but Holmes, at 100-1, was actually leading the tournament through two rounds. Which of course only got me prematurely excited. But we tried. And that’s what we’ll keep doing every week.

Now it’s on to the Pebble Beach AT&T, where last year we had one of our winners, Phil Mickelson, who went off at 40-1. Don’t know if we can come up big like that again, but you never know.

Dustin Johnson is the fave, at 6.5-1, in what is not a real strong field relatively speaking. Patrick Cantlay is next, at 9-1, followed by Paul Casey at 16-1 and Jason Day and Matt Kuchar at 20-1. Johnson was runnerup last week in Saudi Arabia. Mickelson was third. He’s 28-1. So is Matthew Fitzpatrick and Branden Grace. Brandt Snedeker is 22-1.

Daniel Berger and Victor Hovland are 33-1. Cameron Champ and Jordan Spieth are 35-1. I still don’t know what to make of Spieth yet, so I think I’ll wait. Alex Noren and Graeme McDowell, who of course won the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble, are 40-1. Remember this event is played on three different courses on the Monterrey Peninsula, with the final round at Pebble.

Russell Knox is 45-1. Adam Hadwin is 50-1, along with Tom Hoge, Max Homa and Kevin Kisner. The group at 66-1 includes Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Lucas Glover and Kevin Na. Jim Furyk, Kurt Kitayama, J.B. Holmes, Chez Reavie and Adam Long, meanwhile, are among the 11 at 80-1.

After that you’re kind of on your own. Hey, I can only provide so much info.

Along those lines, Mickelson also has two seconds in this thing in the last four years. Casey was second last year. Day was second in 2018, with Reavie. Johnson has won twice, in 2009 and ’10, and has a pair of runner-ups. Spieth won in 2017. Snedeker won in 2013 and ’15.

Kuchar has had five top 16s in his last seven starts worldwide, including a win. Hovland won a U.S. Amateur here. Cantlay has two top fives in his last three starts. Fitzpatrick has four top 10s in his last five appearances. Grace has four straight top 20s, three of them on the European Tour. And Noma has a ninth and a sixth the last two weeks.

And we should mention that along with his history here, McDowell is coming off a win last week.

So which way we going? I just think the odds aren’t worth it where Johnson is concerned. Hey, if you’re so inclined you could get him at plus 175 to finish in the top five. But that doesn’t do enough for me either. Phil, by the way, would get you back 600.

If I’m going to back one of the faves let’s make it Patrick Cantlay, at 9-1.

In the middle tiers I’m taking Matthew Fitzpatrick, at 28-1. Also at plus 600 to be in the top five. And we’ll nab Brandt Snedeker at 22-1, with a plus 450 for a top five. If his putter gets going anything’s possible. Obviously you’re not putting as much on the top five, but enough to make you feel at least a little better about any close calls.

For a longshot we’ll give again give out two. Again, not for as much. Kurt Kitayama, who won once last year after winning twice in 2018, is 80-1. And plus 14 for a top five. Worth a buck or two. He hasn’t played a PGA event since the WGC in November, but he was sixth last week in Dubai.

And why not take a shot at Max Noma at 50-1? He had a top 10 here last year, and is also plus 1100 to get in the top five. Or even plus 500 for a top 10, if that’s more your thing.

Want to have some extra fun? You can bet on who will have the best first-round score from among several groups. At Spyglass Hill, for instance, Mickelson and Snedeker are plus 500, going against Johnson (275), Cantlay (300), Spieth (550) and Kisner (600). It gives you something to root for on Thursday. Just noting.

There’s also wagers for six guys going off at Pebble and Monterey Peninsula. And in three groups of five players each you can pick who’s going to finish first amongst those guys, with appropriate odds. Rather interesting. The same goes for individual matchups throughout the tourney. Make sure you check them all out on the Parx website. Because you can.

Or you can always put everything you have on, say, Johnson and be done with it. Me, I like having some options. Why they make vanilla and rum raisin.

Mike's Picks: Patrick Cantlay, at 9-1, Matthew Fitzpatrick, at 28-1, Kurt Kitayama, at 80-1, Max Noma, at 50-1

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