Fantasy Forecast: Waste Management Phoenix Open preview

Fantasy Forecast: Waste Management Phoenix Open preview

Fantasy

Fantasy Forecast: Waste Management Phoenix Open preview

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Golfweek fantasy expert Mike Glasscott previews the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which begins Thursday at TPC Scottdale’s Stadium Course in Scottsdale, Ariz.

• • •

First look

Waste Management Phoenix Open

The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale (Ariz.)

Course specs: 7,266 yards, par 71 (35-36)

Grass: Greens – Bermuda, poa trivialis, velvet bentgrass; Rough – rye, fine fescue and Bermuda at 2 1/2 inches

Course architects: Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish (1988); Tom Weiskopf (2014 redesign)

Purse: $6.5 million ($1.117 million winner’s share); 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner

Defending champion: Brooks Koepka won for the first time on Tour in just his 22nd attempt as came from behind to hold off Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama and Ryan Palmer by a shot.

Notes: 72-hole, stroke-play event with 132 players and a cut to the low 70 and ties after 36 holes. … This is the 81st edition of the WMPO, which has been held at TPC Scottsdale since 1987. … The only hole-in-one on a par 4 in PGA Tour history happened here (Andrew Magee, hole No. 17, 2001).

• • •

Past winners

  • 2015: Brooks Koepka, 15 under
  • 2014: y-Kevin Stadler, 16 under
  • 2013: Phil Mickelson, 28 under
  • 2012: Kyle Stanley, 15 under
  • 2011: x-Mark Wilson, 18 under
  • 2010: Hunter Mahan, 16 under
  • 2009: x/y-Kenny Perry, 14 under
  • 2008: x-J.B. Holmes, 14 under
  • 2007: Aaron Baddeley, 21 under
  • 2006: J.B. Holmes, 21 under
  • 2005: Phil Mickelson, 17 under

x-won in playoff; y-not in field this week

• • •

History lessons

  • Tournament record: 256, Phil Mickelson (2013) and Mark Calcavecchia (2001)
  • Course record: 60, Mickelson (2005, ’13), Calcavecchia (2001) and Grant Waite (1996)
  • J.B. Holmes has won this event twice, the first time as a rookie in 2006. He’s the only one to win the WMPO in his first year on Tour.
  • Holmes, Kyle Stanley and Brooks Koepka all won in their first appearance at the WMPO.
  • Aaron Baddeley and Vijay Singh (2003) are the only foreign winners this century.
  • Repeat champions include Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Lloyd Mangrum and Johnny Miller. Arnold Palmer went one better and won three in a row.
  • Since 1989, only Calcavecchia (three), Mickelson (three) and Holmes (two) have multiple wins here.
  • Only three playoffs have been needed since the turn of the century.
  • Kenny Perry, 48, and Holmes, 23, are the oldest and youngest, respectively, to win.

• • •

Inside the ropes

Going from the muni at Torrey Pines to the resort course at TPC Scottsdale will be a welcome change for those whose score and ego were battered by Mother Nature last week.

The rough won’t be ankle deep, and the fairways and greens will be more comfortable to attack. Weiskopf’s redesign factored in the daily use while making sure The Stadium Course would still be relevant for today’s pros. The bombers will have to make sure they can handle the reduced landing areas and readjusted bunkering. The iron players will have a chance to dial it in as the greens have been softened and extra hole locations added. The putters should have a better idea on rolling the rock after the greens have had another year to bed in.

I don’t believe there won’t be a significant advantage as this is just the second tournament on the new surfaces. The #ScottsdaleMafia might have a slight advantage here.

As we saw last week, there’s nothing wrong with playing from the middle of the fairway or the middle of the green. Par will be a decent score this week to stay in the fight but avoiding bogeys is more important with only three par 5s.

The weather won’t be a factor, so birdies and bogey avoidance will be the order of the week. Hole No. 16 will host 30,000 revelers cheering and booing every tee shot into the par 3. No. 17 is a drivable par 4. With water in play on the final two holes, there will be plenty of action down the stretch.

Course ratings

Remember, last year was the first year with the redesign in play. Weiskopf suggested last year that the pros will quickly figure out the “newness” and he wasn’t wrong.

  • 2015: 70.752
  • 2014: 70.644

• • •

The field

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament

Bubba Watson: Never posted a round above par in nine tries; 29 of 34 rounds are under par; eight weekends have resulted in four top 10s including T-5, T-15, T-2 and T-2 in his last four trips; 50 under the last four years on the back of pounding it off the tee and GIR.

Brandt Snedeker: Has started 2016 with a T-3, P-2 and win; half of his eight weekends have been in the top 10, as well, so current form smashed into course form; last three wins have been backed by 74th, DNS and T-33, so Watson gets the slight nod on top.

Hideki Matsuyama: T-4 in his maiden voyage in 2014 backed by his T-2 last year; fired bogey-free 63 in round three last year to force himself into contention; seven of eight rounds career in the 60s; love that he didn’t have to play the weekend at Torrey so he’s fresh this week; another pounder of fairways and GIR.

Brooks Koepka: Defending champ squared just one bogey in his final 60 holes last year to earn his first win on Tour; plenty of length and holes tons of putts; T-3 at Kapalua shows he’s knocked off the October-November funk.

Rickie Fowler: Lost here in a playoff to Mahan in 2010; shot 62 the following year and finished T-13; won two weeks ago in another desert setting; recent form at The Stadium Course doesn’t inspire but his class trumps that.

Kevin Na: In six events this season, he’s hit the podium four times; In 10 starts here he’s racked up four more top 10s from nine weekends; plug and play and forget it.

Jason Dufner: Excited to see where the win will take his confidence; three top 10s on the bounce includes that victory last time he teed it up (CB Challenge); enters the week coming off 30 birdies in that win; pair of top 10s and a pair of MCs in his last four here; ball-striking is on point and hoping the putter stays warm.

Webb Simpson: Nothing wrong with lining up a proven ball-striker in a short-ish field; three top 10s in his last three in Scottsdale; last eight rounds on Tour all 70 or better.

Ryan Palmer: Carded four rounds of 64 or lower in the last three years (fifth, T-48, T-2); another who stands out this time of year and plays well on the west coast; steady ball-striker that holes plenty of birdies, as well.

Kevin Kisner: Back-to-back top 10s to kick off 2016 on the Hawaii swing; confirms what most gamers thought would happen after closing the 2015 portion of the schedule second-first in his last two events; four top 10s in a row and rollin’.

David Lingmerth: It’ll blow up again at some point but I’ll gladly ride T-15, T-13, second to open 2016; proven commodity in the desert and on resort courses.

Ryan Moore: Finished the ’15 part of the season T-10, T-43, T-10 but hasn’t played anywhere since Malaysia; seven weekends in a row in Scottsdale have resulted in five T-17 or better and three top 10s; super-soft landing area to start the new year; shot 62 here in 2013.

Si Woo Kim: Only has four rounds over par as a rookie on Tour in eight events; nothing worse than T-18 in his last five and top 10s in two of his last three; currently eighth in scoring on Tour.

Kevin Streelman: Nothing better than T-30 in eight tries; the Scottsdale resident closed with 64 here last year and is coming off his best finish on Tour since solo second in Las Vegas in 2014.

Next tier

Form plays, eye-catchers who make great support staff, not in order

Martin Laird: Was in the mix last week (T-8) at Torrey Pines and led through 54 holes here last year (T-5); splits time between Scottsdale and Charlotte.

Graham DeLaet: Looking for three straight top 10s in the desert; the new set up didn’t bother him one bit last year as he made 20 birds, second best; shot 62 at Sony and 82 last week so be aware.

Brendan Steele: Should be off the radar this week to the general public after T-34 and T-49 in his last two; never missed in five tries and three have gone for top 10s; shot 62 here in 2014 so he’s a Steele just off the big names.

Gary Woodland: Fantastic first two days at Torrey (68-67) in normal golf conditions proved that he’s close; he’ll have room to swing driver again this week with no weather so I’m down to get disappointed just like every time I endorse Woodland.

Shane Lowry: Should be rated higher but inside the top 20 on his maiden here is hardly disrespect; fantastic 73 to close out Monday at Torrey Pines should buoy his confidence this week on an easier course versus a smaller field.

Jamie Lovemark: Streak of three top 10s in a row was halted last week but he’s been torching resorts courses and this qualifies. I’m not letting anyone’s weekend last week get me down.

Scott Piercy: Shot 61 here on Sunday in 2013 to finish third; made the weekend in six of seven tries; five of those are T-15 or better; desert dawg has racked out 10 cuts in a row on Tour.

John Huh: Looks like he’s finding form again as he’s pegged top 10s in half of his last four starts; was just two back before “it” all went down last weekend; was top five before final round 74 slowed him in the desert knocked him to T-24.

Justin Thomas: Ice cold since he won in Malaysia, this should be the kind of track to bust out; played the par 5s in 10 under last year (T-17); doesn’t hurt that he bombs it and can rack birdies.

Aaron Baddeley: 2007 champ has played seven weekends in a row here and has a pair of top 10s in the new season; hit 50 percent of the fairways on a tough driving course last week and that won’t hurt his confidence this week.

Smylie Kaufman: Last time he was in the desert on a TPC course he fired 61 on Sunday to win his first title.

Patton Kizzire: Doesn’t look like much bothers this big galoot as he’s racked three top 10s in seven starts with a Tour card.

Course horses

Players with good records at TPC Scottsdale

J.B. Holmes: 2006 and 2008 winner hit another top 5 in 2011 but the last four have produced nothing better than T-45; doubt the long finish at Torrey helped preparation for this week but a top 10 doesn’t hurt confidence.

Hunter Mahan: With T-30 or better in his last five, including his win in 2010, Mahan is a safe play this week as long as you don’t pay over the odds. He has one top 25, T-19, in his last six starts on Tour and one top 10 since April.

Bryce Molder: Played the last six of these. Played the last six weekends.

Pat Perez: This will be the 15th consecutive season teeing it for the former ASU Sun Devil. T-26 or better in five of the last six years but his current form is non-existent.

Keegan Bradley: Hit the top 25 in three of four starts but his MC in 2014, 66-80, sums up his last couple of seasons.

Off the beaten path

Long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings

William McGirt: Four trips, four weekends, all T-32 or better; only one poor round in his last seven on Tour.

Colt Knost: Improved three tournaments in a row (T-75, T24, T-16) and I never mind guys who can putt and hit fairways.

Paul Dunne: Pay attention as he’s now turned professional and has T-9 and T-13 in his first two starts.

Ben Crane: A pair of top 25s the last two weeks and four top 18s (with two top 10s) in his last eight here is a justifiable stretch.

Scott Pinckney: ASU grad has been on my radar. No chance I’m dropping him this week.

Adam Hadwin: A return to desert golf might inspire the Canadian who was T-6 in Palm Springs.

Brian Harman: Many will be scared away with his 79-86 weekend at Torrey but he was tight in the desert the week before (T-11) and T-13 at Sony the week before that.

Hudson Swafford: Only round over par in 12 this year was that one in San Diego.

Fades

Injured, rusty or not the track this week

Phil Mickelson: Where he’s ranked and where he’s priced suggests top-level investment. We’ve seen it all the last two weeks so I’m politely declining. I’ll be back on him at Augusta and Quail Hollow unless he kicks it back into consistent gear.

Zach Johnson: One bad week. One good week. One bad week. You get the idea. I’m not trying to time him. I’ll gladly sit out and wait until he heats up in the summer, just like always.

Kyle Stanley: Just one round in the 60s here since he won in 2012.

Charley Hoffman: One top 25 in nine starts here; slow start to 2016.

Danny Lee: MC in three tries with nothing in the 60s; slow start to 2016, as well.

Scott Stallings: Four tries in the last four years has resulted in four MCs; more rounds in the 80s than 60s.

Daniel Summerhays: Only one round of eight in the 60s in four MCs from four tries.

• • •

Up-and-comers

Rookies and or newbies who catch my eye on a weekly basis that gamers should start also keeping tabs on. The inspiration of this column was from Jordan Spieth’s performance on sponsor exemptions in early 2013. Other graduates from this column include Hideki Matsuyama , Patrick Reed, Thomas, Daniel Berger, Tony Finau and Grillo. Let’s add Smylie Kaufman to the list, as well, as he won in his second event on Tour with his card.

  • Frys.com: Patrick Rodgers, T-6, Smylie Kaufman, T-10; Harold Varner III, T-48, gets a special mention as he was T-4 entering Sunday before a disastrous 79 wiped out his three excellent rounds. #LearningCurves
  • Shriners: Kaufman’s victory sees him join Grillo in the “graduates” section now. Wow. That didn’t take long! Web.com money leader and all-around leader Patton Kizzire (T-2) missed a playoff by one shot as did Brett Stegmaier (T-2). It was Kizzire’s first start with a Tour card and Stegmaier’s second. #Sizzle. Patrick Rodgers was T-13.
  • CIMB: Cameron Smith couldn’t recapture his magic of his solo fifth in 2014 but his T-37 gives him another solid dose of experience. He entered the week on back-to-back-to back MC but opened with 66 and closed with 69.
  • WGC-HSBC Champions: Haotong Li, 20, finished T-7, the best ever finish by a Chinese in any Tour event.
  • Sanderson Farms Championship: Patrick Rodgers, T-20.
  • OHL Classic at Mayakoba: Harold Varner III, T-5; Patrick Rodgers, T-10.
  • RSM: Tom Hoge, T9.
  • Hyundai TOC: No mentions at a winners-only event!
  • Sony: Zac Blair, third; Si Woo Kim, fourth
  • CareerBuilder Challenge: Si Woo Kim, T-9. This is a recording. Luke List and Adam Hadwin have played a full year on Tour previously.
  • Farmers: Paul Dunne, the amateur who led the British Open after 54 holes last year at St. Andrews, backed up his solo ninth in Joburg with T-13 at Torrey. Oh, and Si Woo Kim hit the top 20 again. Patton Kizzire hit the top 10 for the third time in seven starts.

• • •

Up next

Wednesday, I’ll present my gaming angles for the week so keep your eyes peeled at @GolfweekMag, @GolfweekFantasy and @MikeGlasscott for more information. Fantasy Last Call will also appear after 7 p.m. ET on the website and on Twitter for those of you who like a bit of audio with your after-work drinks or dinner. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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