The stars are turning out for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and here is a Power Ranking and One-and-Done preview to aid in your research.
Before we go any further, I encourage you to check out Rob Bolton’s special preview including some local knowledge of TPC Scottsdale http://www.pgatour.com/news/2015/01/26/tpc-scottsdale-changes.html. The interpretation is that TPC Scottsdale has been modified to try and reduce the bomb-and-gauge mentality. In a Twitter exchange I had with Rob yesterday evening, he likened it to more of a target golf course at this point. I still see length as still being important, so I’m looking at Total Driving in 2015 as opposed to Driving Distance in 2014. Check out Rob’s article and draw your own conclusion!
Here we go!
- Bubba Watson – Bubba isn't just a bomber any more. He can easily reach each of the three par 5s and could possibly reach the par-4 17th with less than a driver. If he avoids any big numbers and putts reasonably well, he’s the guy to beat. He’s finished inside the top five here in two of his last three trips.
- Matt Kuchar – Doesn’t have the course history that others offer, but if this truly is a target golf course now then who else would you rather have? Finished T3 at the Sony Open and T2 in the Humana Challenge. You know what that trend means for this week, right?
- Patrick Reed – It’s easy to forget about him a bit after a T24 in his Humana defense, but get real. He tied for 19th here in his first trip (2014), and it’s entirely possible that he builds off that relative success nicely.
- Justin Thomas – Let’s take a look at his trends. Shared the 36-hole lead in the Sony Open. Shared the 54-hole lead in the Humana Challenge. Were it not for an untimely double bogey on the par-4 16th hole in the final round at Palmer Private, he may have picked up his first win last week. Hey…anybody remember when Kyle Stanley almost won a golf tournament but hit his ball in the water on the 72nd hole and lost in a playoff at Torrey Pines? What he do the next week? Win the Waste Management Phoenix Open? Yep.
- Jordan Spieth – Makes his 2015 debut at TPC Scottsdale in his first WMPO. It’s well known that he won his last two starts of 2014 at the Emirates Australia Open and the Hero World Challenge.
- Hideki Matsuyama – His T3 at Kapalua was followed by a T78 in the Sony Open. That’s not all bad when you consider that he missed his first three cuts in the Sony Open. Tied for fourth in this event last year.
- Phil Mickelson – He worked his way into playing shape nicely in the Humana Challenge last week, tying for 24th. The key this week will be eliminating the bogeys. He’s a three-time winner of this event.
- Brooks Koepka – Sort of a “feel” pick, but not completely off the radar by any stretch. This is his first time playing this event, but his game should be a natural fit. Among his recent success was a T4 in the Frys.com Open to begin the 2014-15 season and a win in Turkey on the European Tour.
- Francesco Molinari – Every week a run a stats breakdown and he was the clear winner for this tournament. It helps that he tied for 10th in the Humana last week. No course history is the only knock.
- Brendan Steele – He’s a dangerous play this week. When you look at his form (T2 last week) and course history (T5, T6, T6 last three), he screams PLAY ME!!! Sometimes when a guy is too obvious or too good to be true, especially considering his stature on TOUR, the pressure is too much to handle. We’ll see.
- Ryan Palmer
- Scott Piercy
- Charley Hoffman
- Hunter Mahan
- Bill Haas
- Robert Streb
- Gary Woodland
- Rickie Fowler
- Tony Finau
- Harris English
I could easily make a case for 10 different players this week. There are three guys outside of my top 10 that are worthy of serious consideration (Palmer, Piercy and Hoffman).
This week’s decision comes down to strategy. If you’ll remember, I strongly considered playing Justin Thomas last week before ultimately benching him for Bill Haas. Turned out, that was a good call. It was actually a good call being on Thomas as well, as he was in position to win until he made a double bogey on the 70th hole while playing beside Haas.
With Haas winning last week, I'd like to keep the momentum going with a solid performance. A top 10 would be the goal, with anything better being gravy.
I've chosen not to over complicate things. I’m riding the hot hand of Thomas, with my last cut being Matsuyama.
Best of luck to all!