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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Waste Management Phoenix Open - Preview

You remember the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Or, at least you remember the iconic 16th hole. The par 3 is surrounded by sky boxes and turns into the only true stadium in golf. Players are cheered or jeered based on the outcome of a 9-iron. The later in the day after more the spirits are consumed, the stronger the reaction.

When I'm reminded of TPC Scottsdale, I think of the final four holes as a unique sprint to the finish in what has become one of the most memorable tournaments on the schedule. The 15th is a par 5 that is reachable by many with an accurate drive, but the approach is essentially to an island green. We've hit on the 16th. The 17th is a driveable par 4 that features water left and long, but multiple other bail out opportunities. The 18th is a long finishing par 4 with water left, but recent winner's and bombers J.B. Holmes and Kyle Stanley have just flew it over the water and taken it out of play all together.

All of that to point out that it isn't out of the question for a chaser to play the final four holes in 4-under, considering two eagle opportunities, to come from behind and steal a win. Though the course plays to a par 71 (7,216 yards) and offers three par 5s, the 17th essentially acts as a fourth scoring opportunity along the lines of a par 5. Knowing all of this, maybe it's not surprising that lengthy players fare well on this track, but there are also numerous examples of precision specialists bringing home the hardware. Here is a list of winners and their scores since 2000.

  • 2000 - Tom Lehman (14-under 270)
  • 2001 - Mark Calcavecchia (28-under 256) Wow.
  • 2002 - Chris DiMarco (17-under 267)
  • 2003 - Vijay Singh (23-under 261)
  • 2004 - Jonathan Kaye (18-under 266)
  • 2005 - Phil Mickelson (17-under 267)
  • 2006 - J.B. Holmes (21-under 263)
  • 2007 - Aaron Baddeley (21-under 263)
  • 2008 - J.B. Holmes (14-under 270)
  • 2009 - Kenny Perry (14-under 270)
  • 2010 - Hunter Mahan (16-under 268)
  • 2011 - Mark Wilson (18-under 266)
  • 2012 - Kyle Stanley (15-under 269)
As we research, we will take a close look at players with a strong history at this event, as well as those with a solid trend. Looking at this list of past champions, not many of them are actually trending all that well. That could make this a bit of a crap shoot.

We will be back with our power rankings tomorrow.

Best of luck to all! 

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