Recap of the day
Monterey Peninsula CC: A superb error-free lap from Nick Taylor swept him two swings clear of the field (beware that the MP par is 71 so he appears to be three clear) with an 8-under-par 63. He’s three ahead of Ricky Werenski, Ricky Barnes and Harry Higgs in his third of the draw.
Pebble Beach: The unlikely pace-setter at the host course was rookie Chase Seiffert, who’s made his last six cuts without landing a top 20. His 6-under-par 66 has him T2 on the leaderboard, two back of Taylor, but one clear of Harold Varner III and Robert Streb in his rotation.
R1 Scoring Averages
MPCC: 70.17 (-0.83 RTP)
Pebble Beach: 71.94 (-0.06 RTP)
Spyglass Hill: 71.88 (-0.12 RTP)
Revised outright betting
Cantlay 4/1, Johnson 7/1, Day 14/1, Mickelson 16/1, Homa 20/1, N. Taylor 28/1
Friday weather forecast
Something of a replica of Thursday in that it should be sunny, with temperatures in the low 50s and nothing more than mild breezes of around 8 mph.
Leaders after at 18 holes
Nick Taylor (63) – A near-perfect start to the week for the Canadian. He found 12-of-13 fairways, 16-of-18 greens and went 2-for-2 at Scrambling to open with an eagle-3 at Monterey Peninsula and add three birdie braces. He’s first out at Pebble Beach Friday morning.
Patrick Cantlay (66) – A rollicking opening lap, at Spyglass Hill, that saw him pencil in just the six pars. However, nine birdies over-powered the three bogeys and he needed just the 1.333 putts per G.I.R. He heads to Monterey for round two.
Chase Seiffert (66) – In remarkable contrast to Cantlay, Seiffert missed just two greens in regulation as he went bogey-free at Pebble Beach. He circled four birdies and then closed in style with an eagle-3 at 18. He’s Spyglass bound on Friday.
Fate of the favorites
Cantlay has already been discussed. Two-time tournament winner Dustin Johnson was also at Spyglass Hill and landed just 12-of-18 greens in regulation on his way to a 69. Paul Casey’s quest to tag a third consecutive tournament top ten got off to a slow start, exchanging two bogeys and three birdies for 71, also at Spyglass Hill. Jason Day began his week at Monterey Peninsula CC and looks set to back up his year opening T16 at Torrey Pines. He missed just two greens on his way to a 67 as he seeks to land a ninth top 15 in his 11th event start.
Road to victory at Pebble Beach
2019 Phil Mickelson – R1: 3rd, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
2018 Ted Potter, Jr. – R1: 24th, R2: 35th, R3: 1st
2017 Jordan Spieth – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 1st
2016 Vaughn Taylor – R1: 48th, R2: 18th, R3: 8th
2015 Brandt Snedeker – R1: 1st, R2: 1st, R3: 2nd
Notes: As you might expect in a tournament that utilizes three courses ahead of the final round, there is a degree of volatility, with some eventual winners well down the field early in the week. Taylor was one of four of the 21st century’s 20 winners who was T48 or worse after 18 holes. The flipside of that is that no less than 14 of those winners was T6 or better after the first lap.
Fate of the first round leaders at Pebble Beach – where did they finish?
2016 Chez Reavie 26th
Notes: As would be expected, because of the format, this is a week when the first day pace-setters need to be taken with a pinch of salt – plenty of them fall by the wayside.
Focus on – Phil Mickelson
The 49-year-old is such an intriguing conundrum. He admitted at the start of the week that his win here 12 months ago had him excited. “After I won, I knew I was going to go out and just crush the rest of the year, and (yet) the rest of the year crushed me,” he admitted. “Kind of reversed it. I did not play well, I didn't play up to my level of expectation, it just kind of snowballed and got worse. But I've had a great off-season, a lot of good things have happened in the last three, four months and I'm very excited for the year. I know the first two weeks didn't go as planned, but the rest of the year is going to be very good.” He was understandably excited by his T3 last week in Saudi Arabia, crucially noting: “I wasn't thinking very well, visualizing, all that stuff and that seemed to get a lot better last week. I'm hoping to build on that.” Is there a better place for him to do so than here? He’s a five-time tournament winner and has finished T2 or better in three of his last four starts in the event. He opened with a 4-under-par 68 at Spyglass Hill.
Focus on – Brandt Snedeker
With two tournament wins under his belt, and T3 at Torrey Pines two weeks ago, everything seemed set for the Tennessee native to make another bold run this week. Alas, he opened his account with a clumsy five bogey-four birdie 1-over-par 73. In 12 previous visits to the event he has three top 20s and on each of those occasions he went sub-69 in round one so he’s very much up against making it four.
Focus on – D.A. Points
A few years ago Padraig Harrington debated, kind of to himself, whether consistency was something to be desired in golf. He wondered if high peaks and low troughs might be preferable. Perhaps the record of Points at Pebble Beach is a good example (at least to be considered). He shot 5-over-par 77 in round one, leaving him outside the top 150 and on track to make it a tenth failure to make the cut in his 14th appearance. In fact, only twice has he finished better than T39, but one of those efforts was a victory in 2011. Would he swap that for five top tens?