Thu, Feb 9, 12:44pm by Staff Writer
Australia’s Jason Day will be fighting to retain his No.1 ranking when he returns to the PGA Tour for this week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
Day earned the top ranking after winning three times on the PGA Tour last year, including the famed The Players Championship.
But the Australian has been struggling with back problems since last year and has made just one cut in any tournament since September.
William Hill is not ruling out a return to form this week, making Day its second favourite at $10 for the win behind No.4 Dustin Johnson and sixth-ranked Jordan Spieth on $9 each.
Johnson has a mathematical chance of replacing Day at No.1, while a poor finish could see him slip to No. 5.
The $9.35 million Pebble Beach Pro Am sees the professional golfers paired with amateurs.
The groups play one round at Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Monterrey Peninsular Country Club over the first three days, with the leading 25 pro-am teams and top 60 professionals and ties returning for the final round at Pebble Beach on Sunday.
Johnson has won twice before at Pebble Beach, with one runner-up finish among six top-10 results.
Spieth, who won November’s Australian Open, has previously recorded good rounds over the three courses and is in strong form.
Joining them is Justin Rose, who was sixth in last year’s Pro Am and finished fourth and runner-up in his most recent starts this season. Rose is paying $15 to go better this week.
Day, meanwhile, has three top-10 finishes from seven starts and has never missed a cut at Pebble Beach.
Three-time Pebble Beach winner Phil Mickelson is on $19. The left-hander finished runner-up last year and cannot be discounted on this course despite his lacklustre play of late.
Defending champion Vaughn Taylor is not expected to repeat his shock result of last year, and he is $101.
Day is joined by 11 other Australians in the field this week, each attempting to become just the third Aussie to win the event after Bruce Crampton in 1965 and Brett Ogle in 1993.
Coletta is playing this week thanks to a sponsor’s invite after he made the cut in the European Tour’s Singapore Open two weeks ago.
Smith impressed at Pebble Beach last year when he shot an opening 64 to sit in second place after the first round before eventually finishing tied for 11th.
There are concerns for the weather this week at California’s Monterey Peninsula, with forecasts of a 100 per cent chance of rain for Thursday local time and a 50 per cent chance of rain Friday.
Play gets underway in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am at 3am Friday AEST.
Suggested Bet: Back Justin Rose each way (Top 5) at $15/$3.75
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