So long January!
Time for perfect weather in the Arizona desert where a big, ol’ party is about to get started.
C. T. Pan is coming off a career-best finish and should be in your plans this week.
Waste Management Phoenix Open
The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale
Yards: 7,266 per the official scorecard
Par: 71 (35-36)
Greens: Bermuda, Poa trivialis, Velvet Bentgrass running at 12.5′ to 13′.
Rough: Rye, fine fescue and Bermuda at 2.75″
Water Hazards: 5
Course Architect(s): Tom Weiskopf & Jay Morrish (1988); Tom Weiskopf redesign (2014)
Purse: $6.7 million
Winner’s Share: $1.206 million; 500 FedExCup Points
Defending Champion: Hideki Matsuyama defeated Rickie Fowler on the fourth extra hole in a sudden-death playoff.
- 132 players; Stroke play; 72 holes; top 70 and ties play the weekend.
- 82nd edition
- TPC Scottsdale has served as host since 1987
Frys.com: Brendan Steele
CIMB: Justin Thomas
WGC-HSBC: Hideki Matsuyama
Sanderson Farms: Cody Gribble**
Shriners: Rod Pampling
OHL Mayakoba: Pat Perez
RSM Classic: Mackenzie Hughes**
SBS TOC: Justin Thomas
Sony Open: Justin Thomas
CB Challenge: Hudson Swafford*
Farmers: Jon Rahm*
**First-time winner AND rookie winner
2016: Hideki Matsuyama, -14*
2015: Brooks Koepka, -15
2014: Kevin Stadler, -16#
2013: Phil Mickelson, -28
2012: Kyle Stanley, -15
2011: Mark Wilson, -18*
2010: Hunter Mahan, -16
2009: Kenny Perry, -14*#
2008: J.B. Holmes, -14*
2007: Aaron Baddeley, -21
2006: J.B. Holmes, -21
2005: Phil Mickelson, -17
# not playing this week
Facts and Figures:
- Tournament Record: 256, Mickelson (2013) and Mark Calcavecchia (2001).
- Course Record: 60, Mickelson (2005, 2013), Calcavecchia (2001) and Grant Waite (1996); Hideki Matsuyama shot 63 in 2015 and that is the lowest score in the two years since the redesign.
- Of the last five winners, three have been first-timers on Tour.
- Holmes has won this event twice, the first time as a rookie in 2006. He’s the only rookie winner.
- Holmes, Stanley and Koepka won their first time entered in the event as pros so experience not required.
- Baddeley and Vijay Singh (2003) and Matsuyama are the only international winners this century.
- Repeat champions include Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Lloyd Mangrum and Johnny Miller.
- Arnold Palmer outdid them all by winning three in a row.
- Since 1989 only Mark Calcavecchia (3), Mickelson (3) and Holmes (2) have multiple wins here.
- Only four playoffs have been needed since the turn of the century.
- Kenny Perry, 48, and Holmes, 23, are the oldest and youngest, respectively, to win.
- Of the 11 winners on Tour this season, eight are 30 or younger. #Trend.
- The only hole-in-one on a par four in Tour history happened here (Andrew Magee, Hole No. 17, 2001). #Triviar.
After the redesign, Weiskopf suggested that these guys were good enough to quickly figure out the changes. It looked to be that way until new pin placements were introduced last year causing scores to inflate.
Year No. 3 should return to lower overall scores as the weather here will be non-existent. Yardage books now have two years worth of data and markings on last year’s new pin placements. The key this week in the desert will be finding GIR and those who stake it closest should have the advantage.
The television coverage will focus on the rowdy par three No. 16 but I’m more interested in guys who can score and avoid bogeys. The rough shouldn’t bother anyone who played in the shag carpet at Torrey Pines last week. The greens will look like football fields as well after tight, tiny ones last week. Great shots are rewarded but slack play from the tee or into the green will be penal. For the second week in a row a Weiskopf redesign will be in play so that should help the folks who have a few rounds under their belt. This week will also provide a laid-back, birdie atmosphere unlike the grind last week at La Jolla.
A common theme this week will be the guys who have ties to Arizona State, Scottsdale, Whisper Rock and the Phoenix area. Remember, this guarantees nothing. I’ve read about guys who hate home games because of all of the distractions. I’ve read about guys who say the redesign took out any advantage they once had because they all play Whisper Rock when they’re home anyhow.
In order of preference for this week and this tournament
Justin Thomas: He’s teed it twice in two events in 2017 and won both. Both times he placed the winning score at 20-under or lower so he’s not going to be bothered if that’s the formula again this week. He has one finish outside the top eight in last seven events on Tour.
Jordan Spieth: His last four worldwide aren’t too shabby either as he’s won, T-6, T-3 and solo third with latter two being his only two starts of 2017. He’s a quick study wherever he goes and his final round 65 here in 2015, the only time he’s played this event, saw him claim T-7. He’ll enjoy smooth Bentgrass running around 13′ as well.
Hideki Matsuyama: It’s funny to have to rationalize the defending champ as third choice this week but that’s what a quiet T-27 and T-33 in his last two starts will do. He’s had ZERO successes in the past at either of those events but that’s the OPPOSITE this week. His win last year was the third consecutive year he posted 14-under (T-4, T-2 and win).
Jon Rahm: The Arizona State alum finished T-5 here as a junior in 2015 and put three of his four rounds in the 60’s. His win in dramatic fashion last week wasn’t that dramatic because even if he PARRED the final hole he would have won by two shots. Commanding would have been the word I would have used instead as coming home in 30 with two eagles was golfin’ the ball. His power and accuracy he displayed at Torrey won’t be wasted here.
J.B. Holmes: The 2006 and 2008 champion closed with 68 last week at Torrey Pines as he looks sharp returning to Scottsdale. He closed the final three rounds here last year 11-under under to finish T-6 for his fourth top 10 in 11 starts. He’s not the most accurate off the tee either so that will help reinforce that theory.
Bubba Watson: Nobody has done more damage here without winning. Watson has played 38 rounds here and 37 have been par or lower and that includes MC in his second try. He’s 100-under par for his career and hasn’t finished outside of the top 15 in the last five years.
Ryan Moore: At the other end of the spectrum Moore has produced fantastic results as well by playing from the sprinkler line and holing putts. He’s played eight consecutive weekends on the Stadium Course and has six T-17 or better finishes for his efforts. The former UNLV man obviously takes well to the desert and the last time he was on greens this large he finished T-3 at Kapalua.
Russell Knox: He’s run out T-11 or better in his last four big field events because of his excellent play tee-to-green. He sits 12th in fairways and 11th in GIR so he’ll have plenty of chances to heat up his harmonica on a stick on the Bentgrass. He makes plenty of birdies and plenty of cuts, 17 in a row.
Phil Mickelson: Ok, I’m in. I resisted at CB Challenge and last week at Farmers but I’ve seen enough where this week it all come together. He’s won here twice. He has the tournament and course record. He’s healthy and he loves Phoenix so I’m on board. This week.
Brendan Steele: Gamers who were looking for consistency from Steele after his win are getting just that. He’s backed up the season opening victory with nothing outside of T-31 in five starts which includes a pair of T-6’s and a T-20 in his last three. His last five starts at TPC Scottsdale have resulted in T-5, T-6, T-6, T-26 and T-17 last year. He’s never missed in six trips all in the last six years.
Brooks Koepka: His attempt to knock the rust off last week only lasted two rounds as he went home early with MC. He won and finished second late in 2016 and is the 2015 champion here. He’ll need to find plenty of GIR to get the putter hot.
Patrick Reed: T-6 at Kapalua and a T-12 at the CB Challenge his last time out that included a final round 65 on a difficult Dye Stadium Course at PGA West. He wills the ball into the hole and has put seven of eight rounds here at par or better. He’ll also enjoy the slick Bentgrass if it gets running hot.
Harris English: He’s never missed here in the last five years and two of the last three have resulted in the top 10. He missed the playoff by two shots last year as he finished third. He broke a three-event run of MC with T-14 last week at Torrey Pines, where he lost in a playoff in 2015.
Rickie Fowler: I have no idea what to do with him. It’s obvious that Torrey Pines is no longer a safe place. TPC Scottsdale creates just as much mystery as he was second here in 2009 and P-2 last year but has only one other top 25 from eight starts. His stats suggest he should be in the mix weekly. Form is temporary, class is permanent, right?
Keegan Bradley: T-4 last week was his third top 10 in his last six starts and best result since 2015 Genesis Open. He’s also hit the top 25 in six of his last seven starts as his putter is starting to cooperate. He’s hot and ball-strikers flourish here. I’m on board, Patriots fan or not.
Gary Woodland: His last event of 2016 saw him finish runner up to Pat Perez. He backed that up with T-6 at Sony and T-20 last week at Torrey Pines. He’ll need to make a few more putts than normal but he avoided bogeys and made plenty of pars at the Farmers.
Form plays, eye-catchers who make great support staff
Tony Finau: T-9, T-20 and T-4 in three starts in 2017 will keep me interested as this is his best streak of golf in some time.
Martin Laird: He led here by a mile after 36 and 54 in 2015 before limping home T-5. There will be ANGRY gamers after he didn’t fire last week but I’ll remind you that he only had one bad round for MDF.
Webb Simpson: Bradley’s brother in spirit with the putter, Simpson has no problem, like Keegan, getting from tee-to-green. He returns to a track where his worst finish in the last four tries is T-14. The other three are top 10’s.
Robert Streb: He’s played the last two years and finished T-10 and T-37 and never saw the “old” course before. He finished T-9 last week at Torrey so he’s obviously found something.
Marc Leishman: His last five worldwide have been T-24 or better.
Patrick Rodgers: He found plenty of greens at Torrey from places other than the fairway as he overpowered the course. He rolled in 20 birdies as well to co-lead the field. The next step gamers will be looking for is putting together a run of results.
Adam Hadwin: There are plenty of formats that reward steady play and cuts made. He’ll enjoy not having a wet, 7,700 yard track this week!
Shane Lowry: First time to the Arizona desert last year and all he did was lead the field in PPGIR and feet of putts made. His 22 birdies led the field and he finished T-6.
C.T. Pan: He’s another who’ll enjoy not having to pound 7,700 yards for three days. He’s also bagged two top 10’s in his last four Tour starts so this isn’t a drill.
Kyle Stanley: The 2012 champ has found a streak of recent form including T-7 the last time he played desert golf in Las Vegas. T-14 last week doesn’t put me off either.
Ben An: Lowry had no problem on his first trip around here and An has PLENTY of big finishes in the Middle Eastern deserts. He’s a super ball-striker as well.
Brian Harman: Ok, we talk about this every week but here it goes again: Brian Harman doesn’t have multiple top 10’s at any Tour stop. He never had a top 10 at CB Challenge or Farmers until this year. He has never hit the top 10 at WMPO. BUY BUY BUY.
Pat Perez: He’s hit the top 10 in four of his last five and has a win in that streak. T-26 or better in the last seven years in five tries. Again, no point in abandoning this ship either.
William McGirt: He’s played the weekend the last five years here and never finished worse than T-32.
Sean O’Hair: Huge clash of current form versus course history on deck. I’m siding with T-9 and T-11 in his last two starts, one in the desert.
Ollie Schniederjans: Ok, do it again. As we’ll see with Rodgers above, the putter will have to show up but he’s hit the top 10 in two of his last four.
Chez Reavie: His course history is worse than O’Hair but his current form is just as scorching.
Ryan Palmer: A pair of top 5’s in the last four years highlights a run of eight weekends from nine. He hasn’t fired yet in 2017 on two courses he usually does so beware.
John Huh: Five starts, two made cuts, T-12 during his rookie year and T-6 last year.
Zach Johnson: Wonderfully inconsistent over the last few months but he’s 17-under on the redesign.
Danny Lee: One top 25 on these shores since last May but was 13-under after three rounds last year. Opened 64-67 at CB Challenge before fading.
Bryce Molder: Shot the low round of the week last year with 64 and has played seven weekends in a row on the Stadium Course.
Graham DeLaet: T-2, T-7 and MC last year. Hang on as the ride can be bumpy.
Brian Stuard: Closed 68-67-67 in his final three rounds here for T-10 in 2015.
James Hahn: A pair of 67’s, a 66 and 65 in the last two years.
Boo Weekley: Solo fifth last year with a 65. Do NOT look at his current form. I warned you…
Off the Beaten Path
Long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings
Zac Blair: He’s 3-3 in 2017 and posted a pair of 67’s here last year.
Bud Cauley: After a MC last week, ownership should dwindle but I’m expecting a bounce back at an easier track.
Grayson Murray: Arizona State alum who hits it a mile and finds plenty of GIR.
Cody Gribble: Bubba and Phil seem to do fine here so let’s give another lefty a chance. He has four top 15 finishes in seven starts as a rookie.
Emiliano Grillo: He was in the top 10 in fairways and greens last week.
Roberto Castro: He’s played the weekend in 18 of his last 19 and that works everywhere. A pair of top 20’s from the “old” design should bring happy thoughts as he sees the “new” design for the first time.
Michael Kim: He’s posted three poor rounds from seven events. I’m patient.
Tyrone van Aswegen: T-20 last week. T-17 last year.
Injured, rusty or not the track this week
Matt Kuchar: Two MC’s in his last four worldwide and nothing better than T-30 here in his last three. Save him for courses where he rakes. He hasn’t played in 2017.
Ryo Ishikawa: Four tries and four trunks shut early.
Andrew Loupe: This will be his third start back from thumb surgery.
Daniel Summerhays: His T-67 last year was his only weekend in the last five.
Si Woo Kim: WD after shooting a million last week.
Louis Oosthuizen: The second week in a row he’s playing a track for the first time.
Scott Piercy: He’s three-over on the new design after six rounds after demolishing the old design. Weird.
Steve Stricker: If you can remember the last time he played you won’t be considering him either.
Wednesday I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled @MikeGlasscott for more information.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me firstname.lastname@example.org.