Birdies, birdies and more birdies last week at the Humana, as it was Bill Haas who held on for the tournament victory— capturing his 6th career victory.
Amazingly, only Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have more wins on the PGA Tour since 2010 than Haas. Following in the footsteps of his father indeed.
But we now leave the trifecta of valley courses for the desert of Scottsdale and the wildest crowd in all of golf at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The 16th hole has become famous throughout the world for the pandemonium that takes place.
Weather will be an issue this week– Friday and Saturday with rain and chilly temps.
Do you remember last year, when James Hahn went Gangnum style?
They also banned the caddy races….
Last Week’s Picks
Humana (January 22nd-26th)
Two From the Fairway
Patrick Reed: 24
Brendon Todd: MC
One From the Rough
Justin Thomas: T7
Webb Simpson: T7
Another pretty solid week. Simpson and Thomas both had chances to win and Todd was a disappointment last week.
BTW: I benched Simpson during his Sunday 64 in favor of Palmer…oops.
Waste Management Factoids
- Tiger Woods hit one of the most iconic shots in golf history here in 1997
- Course at TPC Scottsdale was re-designed by Tom Weiskopf
- 179,200 people were on the grounds of the WMPO in 2013– Imagine Phil AND Tiger this year…could top 250,000!
- Par 71, 35-36, course extended to 7,266
- Andrew Magee made a hole-in-one on hole 17 in 2001– a par-4!
- Tournament course record is 60 by Grant Waite (1996), Mark Calcavecchia (2001), Phil Mickelson (2005), Phil Mickelson (2013)
Click here for a link to the entire 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open field.
Last 5 Champs
- 2014: Kevin Stadler
- 2013: Phil Mickelson
- 2012: Kyle Stanley
- 2011: Mark Wilson
- 2010: Hunter Mahan
Tom Weiskopf was featured on Feherty last year, where he discussed his re-design of the TPC Scottsdale along with partner Jay Morrish. The course was built in 1987, so a change 25+ years later should help change some of the looks players will see.
The changes featured adjustments to the course’s irrigation systems as well as minor routing adjustments, green contour changes and three new green locations. That with some 200+ trees and and Bermuda grass on all greens, the course will give players a new vantage.
Bunkers are more in play and reported to be shallower and easier to escape, so it should give players the opportunity to still try and score from these spots. Long hitters have success here, look at the leader boards over the last 5-7 years.
Tour the course on the PGA Tour’s website here.
Tiger makes his debut this week. It’s almost becoming the exclusive story from Scottsdale, so may as well cover and deliver some thoughts.
From the swings I’ve seen, Tiger’s swing looks as fluid as it has in a few years. Practice round and driving range swings are always going to look a little more free than swings under the gun, so it will be interesting to see how things transfer to the course.
I do not have Tiger in my picks this week, but I do expect him to log solid rounds. A top-25 for Tiger, with a few glimpses of really solid play is in my projection.
What would you rather see from Tiger on Hole 16?
A shank into the galley?
A stuffed shot inside 3-feet to hear the crowd roar?
This Week’s Picks
Two From the Fairway
Bubba’s a must-pick at this event.
His past 3 appearances have seen him finish top-15. Last year, his final round 71 put him one stroke behind Kevin Stadler, the eventual winner.
Bubba already has a victory under his belt in this season as he makes his first start since Hyundai where he finished 10th.
His length gives him a significant advantage at course’s where he is allowed to take advantage of it. The new course at TPC Scottsdale should fit that mold. Bubba’s a lock for a top-10.
He might be in the ‘sleeper’ or “one from the rough” category, but after his first round at the Humana, he’s shown his game is in nice form heading into the week.
Now Michael only had one top-10 in 2014, at the RBC Canadian Open. Otherwise, his 2014 was fairly pedestrian by Tour standards.
He played here last year where he opened with a first round 67, but followed with a second round 76. He also played here in 2011, where he shot 71 in the first round but followed with a second round 67. Those are his only two appearances at this event.
But I say Putnam couples those together, comes out with three solid rounds sub-70 and finds himself in relative contention at the Waste Management.
One From the Rough
Call me out if he’s a cheap pick for a sleeper this week. I know, I know, Graham has been a solid player on Tour for the past few years, but I consider him a sleeper for a few reasons:
- Two WDs and a MC in 3 of his last 4 starts
- No top-10s since last July
- Suffered injury to neck in November (he’s a hockey player, he’s tough, he’ll bounce back)
But you have to remember this stretch he posted early in 2014. The guy was an absolute terror. Amazing he didn’t win.
But Graham’s distance here fits the mold for strong play, along with that 65-65 weekend finish here last year.
Besides, I gave you Koepka with my last pick, so can you cut me a break on the sleeper?!
The Man with the Trophy
He’s making his 2015 debut here this week. We wrote about him a few months ago, and have some high standards for the 24-year old.
This guy has the power (a salty, 317 yd. average) to take advantage of a course like this and will be on a tear to make an early statement. He won in Turkey at the end of last year and I trust he will have his game ready to go for the week. Couple that with some gaudy strokes gained statistics, Koepka will hit the ground sprinting this week.
He’s a guy I love this week.
Brooks Koepka– 2015 WMPOpen, Champion.