2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am first-round leader picks and model
Fantasy Golf & Golf Betting

2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am first-round leader picks and model

A photo of golfer Denny McCarthy

Each week of the PGA Tour season, the first-round leader market is one of the juciest and most difficult to predict. With such a small sample size of first rounds, the fickle nature of form and the vagaries of splits, tee times and weather, there's a good reason these bets pay off so well when hit.

Now, we're going to try to help you win more PGA Tour first-round leader bets. In addition to our weekly model, which has a great track record of identifying PGA Tour winners every week, we're launching a first-round leader model that looks at the players most likely to wind up with at least a share of the first-round lead.

How the rubric works

Finding a first-round leader is difficult, so our model uses several factors to identify a potential FRL.

I've started the model by looking at first-round strokes gained against the field in the last 50, 20 and 10 tournaments played. I also include first-round strokes gained in those timeframes against courses with similar first-round scoring averages in the last five years. Then I add in a player's first-round history at the host golf course. Add it all together, and that's our projected FRL number for a player.

There are plenty of factors data can't quantify, including luck of the draw, playing partners, hole locations, weather and sheer random stuff. However, all told, the model is designed to point out quality players and boost those middling players who have good current form or good course history.

2023 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am rankings

With this being an experimental feature subject to tweaking, it will remain available for free until I feel it's dialed in properly. Then it will only be available for GNN members.

We have an interesting week ahead with another multi-course event. This will dilute the market at most books, with a leader on each course instead of the whole field -- even though Monterey Peninsula's Shore Course is the easiest course.

I've listed the top 20 here based on their total model score. I've put an asterisk next to all the players competing on Thursday at Pebble Beach Golf Links and listed every player on Pebble Beach on Thursday below that.

I've also included the rating based on strokes gained at Pebble Beach in the last four years and how many measured rounds they've played there in that span.

Click header to sort; the better their position, the more the rubric likes them

1 Griffin, Ben* 1.707
2 Mccarthy, Denny 1.423
3 Fitzpatrick, Matt 1.355
4 Lipsky, David* 1.31
5 Dahmen, Joel 1.218
6 Gordon, Will* 1.217
7 Simpson, Webb 1.2
8 Alexander, Tyson 1.107
9 Power, Seamus 1.08
10 Burmester, Dean 1.078
11 Hovland, Viktor 0.973
12 Taylor, Ben 0.917
13 Dou, Zecheng 0.862
14 Mitchell, Keith 0.846
15 Mullinax, Trey* 0.816
16 Smalley, Alex 0.796
17 Daffue, Mj 0.768
18 Rose, Justin* 0.712
19 Kuchar, Matt 0.709
20 Spieth, Jordan 0.701

Pebble Beach strokes gained the last four years

1 Taylor, Ben 0.57 4
2 Kim, Michael 0.539 2
3 Schwab, Matthias 0.348 2
4 Gomez, Fabian 0.312 3
5 Fitzpatrick, Matt 0.271 2
6 Smotherman, Austin 0.271 2
7 Moore, Taylor* 0.271 2
8 McNealy, Maverick 0.258 7
9 Merritt, Troy 0.245 7
10 Streelman, Kevin 0.241 8
11 NeSmith, Matthew* 0.234 7
12 Lashley, Nate* 0.233 7
13 Griffin, Lanto 0.228 4
14 Spieth, Jordan 0.223 9
15 Smalley, Alex 0.21 1
16 Higgs, Harry 0.202 3
17 Norlander, Henrik 0.185 5
18 Stallings, Scott* 0.181 7
19 Mullinax, Trey* 0.177 4
20 Lipsky, David* 0.171 2

Players competing on Thursday at Pebble Beach Golf Links

  • Ryan Armour
  • Arjun Atwal
  • Wesley Bryan
  • Ben Crane
  • Luke Donald
  • Zecheng Dou
  • Jason Dufner
  • Tommy Gainey
  • Michael Gligic
  • Will Gordon
  • Tano Goya
  • Ben Griffin
  • Bill Haas
  • Paul Haley II
  • Nick Hardy
  • Scott Harrington
  • Tom Hoge
  • Tom Johnson
  • Sung Kang
  • Philip Knowles
  • Russell Knox
  • Satoshi Kodaira
  • Kelly Kraft
  • Nate Lashley
  • David Lipsky
  • Justin Lower
  • RJ Manke
  • Denny McCarthy
  • Taylor Moore
  • Trey Mullinax
  • Grayson Murray
  • Matthew NeSmith
  • Seung-Yul Noh
  • Sean O'Hair
  • Geoff Ogilvy
  • Chad Ramey
  • Davis Riley
  • Justin Rose
  • Robby Shelton
  • Greyson Sigg
  • Scott Stallings
  • Kyle Stanley
  • Sam Stevens
  • Callum Tarren
  • Kevin Tway
  • Jimmy Walker
  • Nick Watney
  • Trevor Werbylo
  • Richy Werenski
  • Kyle Westmoreland
  • Carson Young
  • Kevin Yu

About the author


Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is a scratch golfer...sometimes.

Ballengee can be reached by email at ryan[at]thegolfnewsnet.com

Ryan occasionally links to merchants of his choosing, and GNN may earn a commission from sales generated by those links. See more in GNN's affiliate disclosure.