Even the most casual of golf fans knows Pebble Beach Golf Links. The historic course has been the host and star of several major championships with the biggest names in golf plying their trade at the coastal Californian links. Holes such as the short seventh, a par three of just 106 yards, are iconic within the game, whilst Tiger Woods’ win at the 2000 US Open here will never be forgotten. That year the wind was up and the course bared its teeth. Tiger was the only player to beat par...by just the 12 shots for an incredible 15 stroke victory!
The Pebble Beach that we see during the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am doesn’t have the teeth of a U.S. Open set up but it retains that special feeling for this popular event. As this event sees a big field of PGA Tour players also competing alongside an amateur partner, multiple courses need to be used. The rotation has changed countless times since the first edition of this event in 1937 but in recent years it has settled on the excellent Spyglass Hill Golf Course and Monterey Peninsula Country Club as the support acts for the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
2021: Daniel Berger
Pebble Beach is among the most iconic golf courses in the world and also one of the most scenic. It’s a deeply historic place and Daniel Berger was delighted to be able to write his name into that history with a famous and deserved win in the 2021 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
After a topsy turvy final round, Berger stood on the final tee knowing that he needed to force a birdie to win. That sort of pressure would force some players into their shells but not Berger. “I was going to go down swinging,” Berger said shortly after winning the tournament with a stunning eagle on the 72nd hole. The cool sea air meant that the par five green was only reachable with two excellent shots. That is exactly what Berger produced under the most intense pressure.
He gave his drive everything he had and yet was still able to find the middle of the fairway. From there he had no thoughts of laying up. Berger pulled his three wood out and not only did he reach the green but he left that lengthy approach shot just 30 feet from the pin. With adrenaline pumping it would have been easy to mess up the two-putt that he needed but Berger’s aggressive approach saw him drain the eagle putt to win in serious style.
2020: Nick Taylor
Nick Taylor knew he was up against it in the final round of the 2020 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He was paired with California legend and five-time and defending champion Phil Mickelson. The galleries came out in big numbers to cheer Mickelson on but Taylor was able to block out the noise to coolly go round in 70 on Sunday and earn his second PGA Tour win by the impressive margin of four shots.
That Kevin Streelman was the man closest to Taylor in the final reckoning tells its own story of Mickelson’s final round. Despite more experience at Pebble Beach than anybody else in the field, Mickelson was blown off course by the coastal wind which was worse on Sunday than any other day of the tournament.
Gusts were measured at 40mph by the time the final group made the turn. As concerning as that was for Taylor and his chance of winning, the five shot lead that he had built up by that point calmed the nerves considerably. “That was amazing,” Taylor said after the tournament. “I believed I could do it because I’ve done it before. But to do it in that fashion, playing with Phil, gives me a lot of confidence going forward.”
2019: Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson went round Pebble Beach in -5 on his final round of the 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. As good as he was that day, he still finished three shots behind winner Ted Potter Jr. One year on and Mickelson was intent to make sure he didn’t suffer the same fate. Despite being frustrated at the inability to finish the tournament on Sunday, Mickelson returned on Monday morning to finish off with a fantastic last round of -7 that was enough to beat playing partner Paul Casey by three shots.
Mickelson is a student of the game who loves links courses and he certainly loves Pebble Beach, perhaps more than any other course. This win will only deepen that love. He was three shots behind Casey heading into the final round and despite playing in the final group on greens which can get chewed up by prior players, he matched the low round of the day on Sunday. Mickelson was able to lean into all of his experience both in terms of knowing exactly how to go low at Pebble Beach and also how to deal with setbacks and frustration.
Mickelson was animated when play was called for the day on Sunday evening but after completing the win he admitted that Casey was right to hold his ground and push for a return on Monday. The rain that forced a significant delay to the tournament had a major impact on the course with balls plugging on the fairway. Mickelson knew that it would be a very different course in the upcoming U.S. Open back at Pebble Beach but was happy to take advantage of the scorable conditions to win this tournament for a remarkable fifth time.
2018: Ted Potter Jr.
The AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is one of the most relaxed, enjoyable tournaments of the year on the PGA Tour. At least up until Sunday. When the bulk of the amateur players have gone, the cut has fallen and the remaining players head back to Pebble Beach, the pressure can get quite intense to say the least. Ted Potter Jr. will attest to that.
Prior to his stellar performance over the first three days in Southern California, Potter’s previous appearance in the final group of a professional event came in the 2011. That was on the Web.com Tour. This time he was playing alongside world number one and two-time Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner Dustin Johnson. Potter was the clear underdog but he held his nerve to win, outscoring Johnson by three shots around Pebble Beach.
“I knew everyone thought Dustin was going to win,” Potter said after a finishing his round with a nervy three putt bogey. “I was the underdog, what did I have to lose? All I could do was try and grind as hard as I can and I just hit a lot of quality shots to small targets when I had to on the back nine, when the pressure was on.” That pressure was intensified by a chasing pack headed by Phil Mickelson but Potter rose to the occasion for his second PGA Tour title.