This week on PGA Tour: Waste Management Open
As is annually the case, the PGA Tour makes a stop in Phoenix on Super Bowl weekend for the Waste Management Open, the Tour’s first stop outside of California and Hawaii this year.
Neither world No. 1 Rory McIlroy nor No. 2 Tiger Woods, who won last week at Torrey Pines for career victory No. 75, is in the field this week. TPC Scottsdale is annually ranked among the easiest par 71s on the PGA Tour. However, while it’s not without its challenges, it is does manage to avoid pigeonholing on paper. Accuracy off the tee has been down the last two years, but desert golf can allow for aggressive lines, especially when greens average 6,250 feet and run no faster than 12 on the Stimpmeter.
Still, because of the trouble areas around the putting surfaces and the fact that TPC Scottsdale has ranked inside the top 20 most challenging in proximity to the hole on TOUR in eight of the last nine years, the tandem of distance control on approach and a confident putting stroke should prove valuable.
Last year, Spencer Levin entered the final round with a six-stroke lead. He’d go on to card a 4-over 75 and settle for third place, two strokes back of first-time Tour winner, Kyle Stanley, who started the finale eight swings in arrears.
Jason Dufner and Rickie Fowler opened as +1400 favorites on WagerWeb.com (check current lines). Last week in San Diego, Fowler shot 77 in the first round. Then he went 13 under over his next three rounds to finish at 8 under in a tie for sixth. No one in the field played better than Fowler over the last 54 holes. Dufner has been all over the globe early in the season, having played well at Abu Dhabi and Qatar after Hawaii. He makes the trek directly from the Middle East to Phoenix, where he has top-10s each of the past two years.
Brandt Snedker opened at +1500 on WagerWeb.com. He followed up his third-place finish in Kapalua with a runner-up showing in San Diego. The reigning FedEx Cup champ seems locked in, especially on the greens, and has twice cracked the top 10 in Phoenix since 2008.
Phil Mickelson opened at +2200. Lefty didn’t play too well last week at Torrey Pines but has won this event twice – it’s staged practically in the backyard of his Phoenix-area home. He has seven Top-10 finishes overall at TPC Scottsdale.