2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open Picks, Including the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #isitThursdayyet

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 fifth PGA Tour event of this calendar year, but mainly it’s just one freaking huge fiesta in the middle of the desert.

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 to watch golf).  Yep, that’s the Phoenix Open in a nutshell for ya.

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 Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, Kyle Stanley, Hunter Mahan and JB Holmes have lifted the trophy here in the past decade.

Another solid week for my picks last week at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, as my Lockzilla Justin Rose contended all week and finished t-4th, and my Semi-Flier Marc Leishman had a solid outing, despite a late Sunday fade to a t-20th finish.  My Hosel-Rocket Bust pick on Adam Hadwin also looked suspect early as he got out to a hot start, but he faded as predicted all the way down to a t-49th place finish.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Rose t-4th)

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka
– Coming off a bit of a holiday break hangover last week at Torrey Pines where Brooksy missed his first cut since the Shell Houston Open last year, I love me some Koepka this week.  Last week’s MC was only his 5th in the past two PGA Tour seasons and he hasn’t missed back-to-back cuts on the PGA Tour since the 2015 FedEx Cup Playoffs.  Speaking of 2015, he won this tourney that year for his maiden PGA Tour victory and I have a feeling that victory #2 is just right around the corner.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Leishman t-20th)

Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley
– 68, 67, 66, 65, 68.  What do those 5 numbers have in common?  Those are Keegan’s 1st round scores here at the WMPO = a 1st round scoring avg of 66.8.  That’s wicked good (fellow Yahoo Fantasy players take note!).  The best he’s turned that into is a t-15th, but 4 out of those 5 appearances have been inside the top 25.  So he’s got to be lickin’ his chops to boost his way further up the FedEx Cup Points list with those good vibes here, along with coming off a t-4th last week at Torrey Pines.  Look for another t-15th-ish finish from the 30-year-old this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Hadwin t-49th)

Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas
– “Joel- you’re an idiot for picking Thomas as your bust!  He’s better at golf than Jesus right now!”  Ok, he’s been unbelievable this season, no question.  And man was I wrong in picking against him at the Sony Open after his victory at Kaplua the week prior.  But, not for a second am I going to hesitate in fading a guy who ranked 95th and 131st in Strokes Gained-Putting the past two seasons and who will be the flavor of the week pick-wise this week (other than Jon Rahm).  I don’t buy that he’s suddenly/magically become a better putter for rest of his life and am telling you right now that shooting 59 and winning back-to-back PGA Tour events can get to a young guy’s head.  With two weeks off between the Sony and now, coming to a course where he’ll want to try a little extra to put on a show for the fans, and a place where he missed the cut last year, it’s just a recipe for a downer of a week from JT.  Stay away and thank me later.


Jason Kokrak
Jason Kokrak
– I had the long-bombing Kokrak in this same spot last year, and he played his way into a weekend off in missing the cut.  No question that he’s been mostly a letdown thus far in his PGA Tour career, but I can’t steer myself away given the potential upside that I know his game possesses.  He was t-15th here in 2014 and had a pair of top 16 finishes during the PGA Tour fall schedule, before going on hiatus for 2 months.  Call last week’s MC at Torrey his rust-shaker for the year and hop aboard this week.


Joel Harrington

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