Expert Picks: Waste Management Phoenix Open
TPC Scottsdale, Arizona plays host to the Waste Management Open this week, for the best attended and most boisterous event on the PGA TOUR! A strong 132- man field is comprised of 15 major Champions, 12 WGC Champions, and 80 PGA TOUR Champions. Among them sees Tiger Woods end his 13-year hiatus from the tournament, and also his first start in 2015 PGA TOUR calendar. The field also includes 10 of the top 25 in the world rankings, including crowd favorites Bubba Watson, Jordan Speith and Phil Mickelson. Reigning Champion Kevin Stadler won’t be defending his crown this week, as he is still nursing a hairline fracture in his left hand. This week also sees the return of Robert Allenby to professional golf since his mysterious ‘kidnapping and beating’ whilst participating at the Sony Open in Hawaii.
Brendan Steele comes into this week on the back of a fantastic T-2 finish at the Humana Challenge. Steele is no stranger to TPC Scottsdale having finished in the top six on each of the last 3 years. Currently ranked No.122 in the world, Steele finished 79th in the FedEx Cup, including 4 top-10’s and 8 top-25’s in 2014. This year he sits 25th in the FedEx Cup standings including 2 top-25 finishes in 5 starts. Currently, Steele is paying 40/1 for victory this week, which are great odds for a player who has finished in the top 6 in each of the last 3 years.
Phil Mickelson, the former Arizona State University Alumni and current assistant coach will be a fan favorite this week, and the roars on the par-3 16th will prove that throughout this week! Mickelson, a 3-time winner at the Waste Management Open last won it back in 2013. Winless in 2014, Mickelson started his season at the Humana and although finishing in a tie for 24th, he led the field in birdies, and turned back the years to finish T-6th in driving distance. At 20/1 he’s decent value for a proven champion returning to the top of his game.
Ryan Palmer has had a solid start to the 14/15 season finishing in the top-25 in all 4 events he has played in, a result of being 2nd on tour for driving distance and scoring average. Currently ranked No.36 in the world, Palmer finished 14th in the FedEx Cup, including 2 top-2 and 8 top-10’s in 2014. Last week at the Humana, Palmer finished T-10th, and heads into this week full of confidence. Palmer is currently 33/1 to take the title this week.
Nick Watney had a quiet 2013-2014 PGA TOUR season, posting only 2 top-10 finishes in 25 starts. He only managed to qualify one FedEx Cup Playoff event, and plummeted outside the top-100 in the world. Watney is showing signs of a resurgence in the 2015 season with 2 top-16 finishes, including 14th at last week’s Humana Challenge. Watney is our outside tip of the week, and at 66/1 he offers fantastic value for a resurgent 5-time PGA Tour winner.