2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open Picks + Predictions, Plus the Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #DesertSloshFest

The world’s largest outdoor cocktail party that also just happens to have a professional golf tournament going on in the background tees off this week at TPC Scottsdale, site of this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.  It’s the fourth PGA Tour event of this calendar year, but mainly it’s just one freaking huge fiesta in the middle of the desert (oh yeah, and some game called the Super Bowl will be going on nearby on Sunday evening as well).

The best way to sum up the WMPO tourney is to rephrase what I witnessed in-person when attending the tournament in person several years back.  It was late Saturday afternoon and I was standing near the 16th grandstands with a buddy waiting to a get another “refreshment,” when we saw a young female carrying her beverage and racing up the hill with her friends saying, “ok, so I at least want to see one golfer while I’m here.”  (Get it?  Many people go there to drink and party, not really watch golf).  Yep, that’s the Phoenix Open for you.

The TPC Scottsdale course is a bomber’s paradise, as at 7,266 yards (following Tom Weiskopf’s recent renovations) in elevation, it merely becomes a pitch and putt on many of the holes for most in the field.  With the lone exception of Mark Wilson, long hitters have owned this venue in recent years, as bashers Phil Mickelson, Kyle Stanley, Hunter Mahan and JB Holmes have lifted the trophy here in the past decade.

This year’s field includes Sir Eldrick I-seriously-can’t-believe-he’s-returning-HERE Tiger Woods (get ready for back-offs galore folks, he gets more pissy at any distraction during his address and backswing than anyone, and there are more of those here than any other venue on Tour), Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Keegan Bradley, Brandt Snedeker and others are teeing it up this week.  Ba-da-boom!

A choppy weeks for my picks last week at the Humana, as other than nailing my HOSEL-ROCKET BUST pick of the week (Chris Kirk slapped his way to a t-56th), it was not a good showing for the others.  Time to catch some momentum this week WMPO style.

Now, let’s hop into some picks:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Zach Johnson MC, English t-30th)

Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland
– This long-bombing beast snuck up on the field at the Sony Open a couple weeks ago finishing t-3rd, building some solid momentum to start the season.  Gary is 5/5 on cuts made here in his career, including a t-5th in ’11 and a t-16th two years back.  He fits the JB Holmes-like mold of a potential champion here perfectly, load up on some GW this week.

Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley
– I’m mostly predicting a down year for the Keegster (#shortputterwoes), but that doesn’t mean that he won’t have some solid flashes of brilliance at some point.  Frankly, he’s too talented not to.  Last year I vividly remember watching him bomb it miles down the fairway en route to an opening round 66, before getting chip-happy on his way to a second round 80 and missing the cut.  Couple that with his quiet t-48th last week at the Humana and he comes into this week highly under-the-radar.  Ah yes, all the better.  Prior to last year, Keegan notched finishes of t-24th and t-15th here in his other two appearances at TPC Scottsdale, and is a straight up lock for a top 25 with a solid chance at a top 5 this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Appleby MC)

Nick Watney
Nick Watney
– We all know how much talent Mr Watney possesses, he’s been one of the best players in the game in certain spots over the years, although he tends to get in his own way at times on the course and the problems become mental.  Now a couple years removed from former coach Butch Harmon, Nick is finally settling into his new swing most recently shown with his 14th place finish last week at the Humana.  I’m not ready to predict a return to the winner’s circle just yet, but considering he’s made his last 6 cuts here including a t-5th here in ’11, and I think Watney may surprise some people this week.

*Also keep an eye on Graham DeLaet this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Kirk t-56th)

Bill Haas
Bill Haas
– It would just be way too easy to put Tiger Woods in this spot (BUST-ED Tooth), so I’ll raise a few more eyebrows and throw last week’s Humana champ in this spot.  I am a Bill Haas fan, he has a relatively solid track record here (highlighted by a t-6th here in ’13) and I think he will win again this season, but just a gut call here fading him off his victory last week.  His putter has the tendency to go awry at times, and regardless of how solid he looked last week in Palm Springs I’m calling for him making the cut, but being far adrift from contention come Sunday.  In general, it’s always far smarter to fade last week’s champions each week.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Thompson t-69th)

Scott Piercy
Scott Piercy
– Fully healthy and primed for a big season, Scott Piercy finished solo 2nd just two weeks back at the Sony Open (albeit a distant second to runaway victor Jimmy Walker), then followed it up with a t-30th last week at the Humana.  Piercy straight up loves this TPC Scottsdale course and the tourney in general, as evidenced by his solid record here—t-15th in ’14, 3rd in ’13, t-8th in ’10 and t-6th in ’09.  Yep, that’s 4 top 15s since ’09 for a player that most golf fans have barely heard of.  Lock and load on some Piercy this week, and thank me later.  Scott Piercy is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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