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10 takeaways from 2016 Pebble Beach Pro-Am

February 14, 2016; Pebble Beach, CA, USA; Vaughn Taylor hoists the trophy after winning the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With the conclusion of the 2016 Pebble Beach Pro-Am, golf season is definitely in full swing. This is always one of the bigger tournaments of the season, not to mention one of the most entertaining.

Now that it’s complete, what did we learn from it? These are the biggest takeaways from the tournament.

Where did Vaughn Taylor come from?

Vaughn Taylor hasn’t won a PGA Tour tournament in more than a decade and hasn’t really contended in one since 2010.

Maybe he’d break that at some small event, or even in an opposite field event. But in a week with six of the Top-10 players in the world in the field, as well as another star in Phil Mickelson, someone like Taylor would have no chance, right?

Wrong.

Taylor was superb on Sunday, especially on the back nine.

With the one-shot win over Phil Mickelson, Taylor, who currently lives in Augusta, will get to play there in April for The Masters.

This just goes to show how crazy the game of golf is. Just when you think you have everything figured out, something crazy like this happens.

Phil Mickelson can still play

While the tournament no doubt finished in a frustrating way for Mickelson, the 2016 Pebble Beach Pro-Am was an absolute success for Lefty.

Mickelson failed to get up-and-down on the 18th hole to force a playoff, but his short game was incredible during the week. He carded a bogey-free 66 on Saturday, despite only hitting half of the greens in regulation.

This second-place finish, combined with a third-place finish at the CareerBuilder Challenge, is a great sign that Mickelson is playing his best golf since winning the 2013 British Open, which was also his last victory.

It’s worth noting that Lefty is still in the early stages with new coach Andrew Getson. He didn’t win at Pebble Beach, which is disappointing, but Mickelson showed that he absolutely can still win on tour.

Jordan Spieth is human

Jordan Spieth caddie

The world’s No. 1 player has been playing a lot of golf since the beginning of the year. At the end of January, Spieth finished in a tie for fifth in Abu Dabhi and had the following to say to the Golf Channel:

“We are kind of beat up mentally. Physically, we’re not 100 percent right now. It shows in certain places, and this week, the first day I was here, I was striping it and since then, I was just a little weak.”

Indeed, it showed at the AT&T. Spieth, who always seems to find a way to be relevant in tournaments, made the cut on the number Friday and never got into contention, even with a final round 66.

While it’s admirable for a player of Spieth’s caliber to play in so many tournaments, he doesn’t need to do that for any practical purposes. Seeing less of Jordan Spieth in future winters may just be necessary if we’re going to see him at his best through the spring and summer.

Dustin Johnson needs a jolt

Much like Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson is a highly ranked golfer who was certainly on a short list of favorites to win at Pebble Beach. Much like Spieth, it never materialized.

Johnson’s struggles this weekend were definitely noteworthy. He has a strong history at Pebble Beach, winning this tournament twice and carrying the 54-hole lead into the final round of the 2010 U.S. Open. Prior to this week, the last time we saw Johnson was at Torrey Pines, when he was in contention through two rounds, but shot a 74 and 80 over the final two days.

There’s no doubt that the lanky power hitter is immensely talented, but right now he’s in a bit of a funk. If he’s going to break through this season and win a major, Johnson would do well to snap out of this mini-slump quickly and find his form in the near future.

Bubba Watson’s rough 2016 continues

Courtesy of USA Today Images

Bubba Watson has had a rather forgettable 2016 so far, and he missed the cut this week in Monterey.

In and of itself, that wouldn’t be too alarming, but it’s come on the heels of some rather sub par performances. He made some ill advised comments about TPC Scottsdale and the Waste Management Open, and was roundly booed for doing so.

Bubba’s game has not been sharp so far in 2016. He entered the week ranked No. 6 in the world, so he certainly has time to right the ship heading into the spring. But so far, the current campaign has not been a good one for Bubba, and his performance at Pebble Beach was the worst of the bunch.

Patrick Reed seems fine

After withdrawing from the Farmers Insurance Open with an ankle injury, which drew the ire of Graham DeLaet, Patrick Reed’s health and game don’t seem to have many problems.

Despite rounds of 73 and 72, Reed cruised to a Top-10 finish.

Reed actually had two rounds of 65, including the final round at Pebble Beach.

He has played in four tournaments since the beginning of the year and has been very up-and-down. Prior to this week, he tallied a second place, tie for 56th, and withdrew from a tournament where he was never in contention.

If Reed was indeed hurt when he withdrew at the Farmers Insurance Open, consider this week a solid indication that his ankle is fine. Not only did he show well at Pebble Beach, but he finished strong, which would be incredibly hard to do when battling an injury.

Jason Day is back

While he didn’t finish with a great round, Jason Day seems to be completely past the mini-slump that saw him miss the cut at Torrey Pines at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Day started with a relatively ordinary 71 and finished with a disappointing 73, but had a nice 66 and 68 in between them. Certainly, a player of Day’s caliber is looking to win, but often, the early season is more about the game’s best players getting their games into shape for the bigger tournaments later in the year.

Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson still seem to be lacking in that regard, but the World’s No. 3 ranked player seems just fine.

Justin Rose should play Pebble Beach more often

Justin Rose 2016 Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Entering the week, Justin Rose had never played at Pebble Beach. Playing with amateur Justin Timberlake, Rose certainly got an indication of how unique this tournament and its crowds are and played just fine, finishing at 12-under par.

In reality, this is a tournament that all of the pros should play more. While the amateur inclusion does give Pebble Beach an entirely unique element that takes some getting used to, the course is a regular in the U.S. Open rotation and will host the tournament again in 2019.

Wouldn’t this be the kind of course that pros would want to get to know better? Perhaps with his strong performance in 2016, Rose will be a player that we see more of in the future at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Big week for Internationals

While the tournament was won by an American, the Top-10 is an indication of how global this game has become. In addition to Rose (England), the Top-10 had two Swedish players (Jonas Blixt, Freddie Jacobson), while three Australians (Day, Cameron Smith, and Matt Jones) just missed.

What’s really telling is the placement of two Asian players, South Korea’s Sung Kang and Japan’s Hiroshi Iwata. Kang had a disappointing final round, but nearly shot a 59, settling for a 60 in the second. Iwata finished two shots behind the lead and was in contention for nearly all of the final round.

Asia is the biggest continent in the world, and while men like Iwata and Kang aren’t the first from their regions to win or contend, many more will certainly be coming in the near future.

AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am stars again

There are more prestigious tournaments than the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but few are anywhere near as entertaining.

The amateur stars have consistently made this tournament special. This dates back to the days of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and has been continued with Bill Murray.

And while Murray still plays, the tournament seems to be in good hands for years to come with the likes of Justin Timberlake.

Pebble Beach itself is often a star, and this week was no exception. The golf course is located in one of the most beautiful locations on earth, providing breathtaking views of Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean. This year, the weather was spectacular, so the views weren’t even remotely hindered.

Anyone in Northern California who identifies as a golf fan should absolutely go see this tournament at least once. If you’re not from Northern California, well, there are worse places to spend a week in the middle of February.