2018 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.

My picks last week at the Farmers Insurance Open were, well…let’s just say it’s a new week this week.  All 3 of my picks–Rickie Fowler, Ollie Schniederjans and Richy Werenski missed the cut by one lowly stroke each.  Enough about last week already, now let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Rickie MC)

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth
– It’s easy to nitpick with the game’s elite, but when it comes down to it, Spieth produces nearly every single week when he tees it up.  With much of the attention on Hideki and his crazy good record here, along with local fan favorite Jon Rahm entering the week, it makes me like Spieth all the more.  The crowds will no doubt be on his side and he has a t-7th and t-9th in two career appearances here and looks to add his first PGA Tour title since last year’s British Open.  Top 5 finish this week = book it.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Ollie MC)

Harris English
Harris English
– After a dismal 2017 season, this former Georgia Bulldog has finally started to round back into form going 3/3 in cuts made so far in 2018, including t-11th at the CareerBuilder and t-8th at Torrey Pines last week. As far as course history goes, he’s a perfect 6/6 here at the WMPO, including a t-15th in ’12, 9th in ’14 and 3rd in 2016 (nice little every-other-year high finish going on there).  The two-time PGA Tour champ hasn’t won since 2014, but I think he busts out of that winning drought this season…and who knows, possibly takes home the trophy this week.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Hideki t-12th)

J.B. Holmes
J.B. Holmes
– The PGA Tour slowpoke who took seemingly an hour to hit is layup second shot on the 72nd hole on Sunday at Torrey Pines loves him some Phoenix Open, as he’s a two-time champ here dating back to ’06 and ’08.  The reason for my fade on him this week is not because the course isn’t a good fit for him–no disputing that–but rather a fade due to the social media firestorm that he underwent following his ridiculous sloth-like slow play on Sunday.  I think the fact that A) he had to come out and defend his slow play afterwards and B) that libation-happy WMPO gallery members won’t be afraid to rip into him and C) because Tour officials will be more aware of his slow play and will at the very least (and probably the most, too since they are too chicken to issue slow play penalties) will issue him a verbal warning at some point–all of that will rattle him this week, throw him off his game (notoriously slow players HATE being rushed) and into a weekend off.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last week: Werenski MC)

Jason Kokrak
Jason Kokrak
– The long bomber is still in search of his maiden PGA Tour victory and while I don’t think it’ll come this week, I’ll gladly gobble up all of the Kokrak shares I can get my hands on while others are scared at his back-to-back missed cuts here the past two years.  Prior to that, he finished t-15th here in 2014 and also arrives in solid form, having finished t-8th in his last PGA Tour event two weeks ago at the CareerBuilder and only having missed one cut on Tour since last July!  He definitely knows how to go low (see round 1 at the CareerBuilder- 63), just needs to avoid those off days.  Yes, the same can be said of course for many players on Tour, but now in his 7th full season on the PGA Tour, he’s got enough experience under his 32-year-old belt that he can parlay into the big splash that I know he’s finally capable of making on the big stage.  Jason Kokrak is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

 

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