Top takeaways from AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

The 2018 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am wasn’t just about beautiful sightseeing and watching your favorite celebrities. It was also a pretty darn big golf tournament.

Five of the world’s top-10 golfers entering the week teed it up at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill, and Monterey Peninsula. Even better is that we got to see some of those players in contention down the stretch on Sunday.

So, what can we take away from the week’s festivities in Monterey?

In a tournament that featured some of the golf world’s biggest names, how did Ted Potter Jr. come away with the victory? While Dustin Johnson finished ahead of Jordan Spieth, we come away feeling slightly more positive about the latter’s week. While they both finished just short of Potter, it’s hard to not be encouraged by the weeks of Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

As it always is, the week at Pebble Beach was a lot of fun. These were our main takeaways.

Ted Potter Jr. slays the giants

It’s worth repeating. Five of the top-10 golfers in the world made their way to Monterey this week. Mickelson, a three-time champion and World Golf Hall of Famer, was also there and in contention. But the week belonged to man who entered the week ranked No. 246.

No doubt, Potter Jr.’s victory was aided in part by a poor final round from Dustin Johnson (more on that shortly). But Potter Jr. deserves ample credit for pulling the win off. Potter was not bothered by consistently being 40 yards short of Johnson off of the tee. He was not bothered by an opening hole bogey. In fact, he wouldn’t drop another shot on Sunday. He was not bothered by the standard slow play and long delays that the AT&T tends to feature.

Potter was simply unflappable.

There’s no question that other players struggled. But Potter finished the tournament at 17-under par and shot a three-under 69 on Sunday. This was a well-earned win.

Dustin Johnson has a bittersweet week

The sweet part of Johnson’s week was that he finished tied for second. Even Tiger Woods at his best won less than 50 percent of the time. With that in mind, Johnson’s performance was fine. But what happened on Sunday was bitter.

Johnson entered the day tied for the lead with Potter Jr. Heading into Sunday, it seemed implausible that Potter would come away with the win. Implausible, but not impossible.

Potter deserves ample credit for having such a great day on Sunday. But Johnson was even par for the final round and was really never a serious factor coming down the stretch. So, while DJ’s week at Pebble Beach was generally positive, what happened on Sunday left a lot to be desired.

Jordan Spieth takes step in right direction, despite not contending

Apr 8, 2017; Augusta, GA, USA; Jordan Spieth walks up the 1st fairway during the third round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Spieth is one of the best golfers in the world and entered the week as the defending champ. We couldn’t normally look at a resume like that and be excited by a top-20 finish. But with Spieth, we can make an exception.

As Spieth noted in his post-round interview on Saturday, he’s been sick for a good portion of the winter. While on the shelf, he couldn’t really keep his game sharp. As such, we have to look at these early season events like something of a preseason for him. Spieth was decent in Hawaii, but he missed the cut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. So, it was encouraging to see him bounce back with a relatively strong showing.

We’d like to see Spieth get his 2018 going by winning (or at least truly contending) in the near future. But for now, we’re putting his week in Monterey in the win column.

Rory McIlroy can’t get it going

McIlroy made his 2018 American debut at Pebble Beach. Things didn’t go according to plan for the former No. 1. McIlroy started well enough, firing a four-under 68 in the opening round at Spyglass Hill. Unfortunately, he followed that up with a Friday 74 at Monterey Peninsula and his 72 at Pebble Beach on Saturday was not good enough to hang around for the final round.

What does it mean for McIlroy? On its own, not much. McIlroy did play a limited schedule in 2017. So, we’d like to see him finish strong in the early tournaments of the year. But while this was his American debut for the year, McIlroy has two European tour starts in 2018, which yielded a tie for third and solo second.

The other top golfers in the world who teed it up at Pebble Beach generally contended. McIlroy was the only one to not make the cut. If nothing else, it gives us something to watch next week at Riviera and the following week when the Florida Swing gets underway.

Chez Reavie continues steady streak

One week after losing a playoff at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Reavie was a factor at Pebble Beach, finishing in a tie for second.

Reavie is certainly not the biggest name in golf. But he’s someone that people should be paying attention to as we get deeper into the season. We don’t say this just because of the consecutive runner-up finishes, either.

To find Reavie’s last missed cut, we have to go back to May of 2017 to the AT&T Byron Nelson. Pebble Beach marked the 20th straight cut made for Reavie.

It’s worth restating that Spieth and McIlroy — who both sit in the top-10 and have been ranked at No. 1 in the world — have missed a cut in the last two weeks. We’re sure that Reavie will be disappointed with coming up just short for the second week in a row. But his game is going firmly in the right direction.

Jason Day in top form

Nobody will ever call 2017 an especially strong year for Day on the course. For the first time since 2013, he failed to win a PGA Tour event and wasn’t really a factor in any of the majors. But as we inch towards the 2018 major season, Day’s game is in strong form.

He broke his winless streak at Torrey Pines two weeks ago. After a week off, Day returned to the course at Pebble Beach, finishing tied for second.

The Masters is still two months away and there’s a lot of golf to be played before then. But based on what we’ve seen thus far in 2018, he’s someone to be taken seriously at Augusta.

Jon Rahm good, but not great

Much like Johnson, Rahm entered Sunday with a chance to win. And much like the World No. 1, the World No. 2’s final round was certainly disappointing. Rahm began the day three back of Potter and Johnson, but backed up with a four-over 76 to finish tied for 26th.

By and large, the 2018 season has been a smashing success for Rahm thus far. He won his last start of 2017 and already has a win and a solo second in 2018. So, there’s no reason to read too much into one disappointing round.

But much like Johnson, we’d like to see golfers of Rahm’s caliber finish a little better when they’re in contention. When that doesn’t happen, it can’t be ignored. In Rahm’s case, we also can’t forget that he had poor final rounds at both the Farmers Insurance Open and the Waste Management Phoenix open. This will all be worth remembering the next time Rahm finds himself in the mix.

Phil Mickelson rounding into form

Phil Mickelson

It was hard to have an especially positive outlook on Lefty’s 2018 when he missed the cut at the CareerBuilder Challenge. While it’s never smart to overreact too much to one tournament, those are the kind of events that have generally been kind to Mickelson. Such a poor showing at one of them was troubling. But Mickelson now has consecutive top-five finishes. In fact, he finished tied for second at Pebble Beach.

While many of the world’s top golfers were struggling on Sunday, Mickelson thrived. He fired a final round 67, making a birdie on three of his final five holes.

We have two months to go before Augusta and two more months until Lefty goes for the career grand slam at the U.S. Open. Certainly, a lot can happen before then. But if you’re a fan of Mickelson, these recent finishes should be quite encouraging.