02/02/2016

Now this event is a place of great pride for me.

Last year during my preview, I made a selection for a winner that I felt was fairly bold. He was rising in the OWGR, but not yet a proven player on the regular Tour. I’d read so much, learned so much and felt so confident, that I went with him for my pick. Rarely do I make a pick with the conviction I did last year. When Brooks Koepka closed out his first win in the desert, I was brimming from ear-to-ear.

Now before you think I’m getting arrogant with my picks, understand that I picked Patrick Rodgers to win last week’s tournament at Torrey Pines and he was a MC, and he missed the cut BADLY. See, so I get lucky from time to time.

But onto the 2016 Waste Management.

This has become the ultimate party in the desert. Home of the pandemonium and craziness–especially last year as the city played home to the Super Bowl.

With the Super Bowl safely in San Francisco this year (and Tiger Woods at home nursing another back injury), the hype should be reduced somewhat for the 2016 edition of the Phoenix Open.

Rich in history, this event is now considered as an acronym, WMPO–the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Let’s take a look at what we have in store this year.

And yeah, the 16th hole is a riot.

Last Year’s WMPO Top-10

The 2015 WMPO featured a fascinating finish down the stretch, with 4 players within a stroke for a majority of the back nine. Koepka’s differentiator was a 50-foot bomb he drained on 15 for eagle.

It was a fun one to watch on Sunday.

Screenshot 2016-02-03 07.52.40Screenshot 2016-02-03 07.52.50

Full 2016 Field of the WMPO

Full field here!

Last Week’s 2016 Farmers Insurance Open Picks

Carlos Ortiz: 49th

Brandt Snedeker: WON

Gary Woodland: 18th

Zac Blair (sleeper): MC

Jamie Lovemark (Sleeper 2.0): 31st

Patrick Rodgers (winner): MC

Past 5 Winners at the WMPO

  • 2015: Brooks Koepka
  • 2014: Kevin Stadler
  • 2013: Phil Mickelson
  • 2012: Kyle Stanley
  • 2011: Mark Wilson

Course Overview: TPC Scottsdale

Screenshot 2016-02-03 08.00.08

A 1987 Tom Weiskopf design, the TPC Scottsdale underwent a face lift before last year’s event. Weiskopf addressed a few elements of the course he felt could be improved upon to take the Stadium course to the next level.

Among the changes were an irrigation system added to the property, shallowing of some bunkers and alterations to the green complexes. Added bunkering on the sight lines for tee shots were also added.

Scoring has not changed much at the TPC Scottsdale course after the changes. Expect much of the same from the TPC Scottsdale to the tune of mid-to-high teens for a winning score.

This course favors bombers.

Tour the course here.

Driving Series

This Week’s Picks

Three from the Fairway (Contenders)

1. Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki+Matsuyama+World+Golf+Championships+LCqNtp_0W4Il

The course must just fit this young man’s eye.

Despite a missed cut last week in San Diego, I’m riding Matsuyama because of his past results here at the TPC Scottsdale. In his last two starts here, he’s gone with a T4 and a T2. No need to dive too deep into the depth behind this pick. For me, Matsuyama is a semi-no brainer. The weather last week was an anomaly. Hideki’s play here has not been.

Go with Hideki Matsuyama in whatever format you play.

Let’s hope he’s not squeaking his way around this week.

2. Bubba Watson

bubba

Maybe it’s the big environment. Maybe it’s the weather. But I think Bubba’s success here has directly to do with the fact that the course is carbon cut to fit his golf game. Like Augusta, Bubba has turned this place into another one of his playgrounds.

With back-to-back 2nd place finishes, he’s surprisingly never won here (although he arguably should have a few years ago).

When selecting Bubba this week, you may not gain anything on the rest of your competitors by going with him, but you won’t be left in the dust when he finishes inside the top-10 again this week.

With the changes, this course is even more favorable to long drivers and players who can hit it straight. When Bubba is on with his driver, few in the game are more dangerous.

3. Ryan Palmer

ryan palmer

 

I am littering this year’s picks with the players from the top of the 2015 leaderboard, but hey, so be it. Palmer’s game is another perfect fit for the TPC Scottsdale.

He’s coming into Scottsdale with great form, having finished inside the top-20 in his last 3 events played. In both 2013 and 2015, he finished inside the top-5 at the WMPO.

A lot of shots at the TPC Scottsdale require players to shape the ball from right-to-left, which fits wonderfully for Palmer’s signature draw. He likes the changes made and although there aren’t as many short clubs in his hand as there once was, he still has the length to make the course shorter than it is for most.

Palmer will keep the good play going this week, with another week of contention.

One from the Rough (Sleeper)

Scott Piercy

Scott Piercy

He has yet to miss a cut in 2015 and I don’t think many players (outside of Patrick Reed, perhaps) were more excited to leave the Farmers last week than Piercy.

Heading into the event, Piercy had finished inside the top-25 in 4 of his 5 starts on the season and had scored three scores at 66 or better at the Sony Open. Heading in to Torrey, Piercy had made a remarkable 168 consecutive putts from inside 5-feet (stat via Joe Hardy).

In 2013, Piercy closed here with a Sunday round of 61 to finish in solo 3rd. He has been a top-15 finisher here in 2006, 2009, 2012 & 2014.

He drives the ball with an average of a shade over 300, good for 46th on Tour, plenty of length to still be a factor at TPC Scottsdale– so much so, that I see him putting the Scott back in Scottsdale.

A top-10 finish for Piercy this week.

The Man with the Trophy 

J.B. Holmes 

holmes

The two-time winner of the Phoenix Open makes it three this week.

The 24th-ranked player in the world comes into this week on the heels of some solid Tour play. Despite a Sunday 76 (which was more than two strokes better than the average score) at last week’s Farmers, Holmes locked up a 6th place finish. In the events on his 2015-16 schedule, he has yet to finish outside the top-25.

Statistically, Holmes is top-10 in driving distance, 32nd in strokes gained tee-to-green and gained strokes with his putter last week at the Farmers. It’s all about putting for JB this week (as it is for most of the field) and when he gets the flat stick rolling this week, he’ll be a force to reckon with.

He hasn’t played much yet this season, which means I see him being rested and ready for a three-peat in the desert. JB Holmes, your winner this week.