Kurt Kitayama grew up in Chico, California, about 250-plus miles north of Monterey. It’s not exactly a home game this week, but he’s likely happy to tee it up in his home state.
This is his third appearance at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He missed the cut last year, but debuted well in 2020 with T-18th. That year, Kitayama opened with 3-under 69 at Spyglass Hill, 2-under 69 at Monterey Peninsula, and 3-under 69 at Pebble Beach.
He was in 12th place through 54 holes but closed in 75 to miss out on a top-10.
Collecting top-10s have come easier of late for Kitayama. The 30-year-old UNLV grad matched his career-best finish on the PGA Tour with a solo second against an elite field this season at the CJ Cup. Rory McIlroy won that event.
Last season, he was solo second at the Genesis Scottish Open behind Xander Schauffele and T-2nd at the Mexico Open at Vidanta behind Jon Rahm.
Those are no slouches he’s losing to.
Kitayama also posted solo seventh last fall at the DS Automobiles Italian Open, a Rolex Series event on the DP World Tour.
Kitayama is a two-time DP World Tour winner, where he cut his teeth before making it stateside.
Taking advantage of the par-5s is one key to success this week. He’s a good long iron and fairway wood player. Kitayama ranked 39th in approach proximity from 200-225 yards (38’6”), 13th from 225-250 (44’5”), and 15th from 250-275 (56’4”).
I’m sure he’s dreamed of lacing a second shot on the par-5 18th at Pebble to secure a victory.