2019 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 renovations from a few years back) 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 Gary Woodland, 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 at Torrey Pines were decent, as Lockzilla Rory McIlroy notched a t-5th finish, followed by Semi-Flier Charles Howell III in at t-20th.  I also nailed Jordan Spieth to finish way out of the mix, as despite his hot round on Thursday he faded badly to a t-35th place finish.

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

LOCKZILLA (Last week: Rory t-5th)

Rickie Fowler– Close calls galore here in the desert for Rickie, most recently last year when he was right smack dab in the mix at the turn on Sunday, only to massively fade down the stretch and finish t-11th.  Hasn’t won an official PGA Tour event for nearly 2 years now (2017 Honda Classic), so he’s certainly due.  I still feel like he turned a page to maturity after how he handled last year’s Masters defeat.  With so many past close calls and being a fan favorite, it just seems like destiny that he’ll eventually win here.

SEMI-FLIER (Last week: Howell III t-20th)

Keegan Bradley–  67.7.  Yep, that’s the Keegster’s 1st avg scoring average here in Phoenix in 7 appearances.  Not too shabby!  Amazingly, he has yet to crack the top 10 here by week’s end, but has notched 4 top 25s overall.  He’s a fiery, passionate player who seems to thrive in situations with large crowds/crowd noise (ie Ryder Cup/Presidents Cup), so it’s no surprise that he seems to be jacked up each year here that he tees it up on Thursday.  Now, let’s hope that he can carry that Thursday momentum further into the week and be in contention come Sunday afternoon.  Perhaps he can hoist the trophy and then watch his beloved Patriots do the same later that evening.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last week: Spieth t-35th)

Talor Gooch–  The 27-year-old Oklahoma native has been on a rip-roarin’ roll the past two weeks, following-up his solo 4th at the Desert Classic with t-3rd at Torrey Pines.  It’s his WMPO debut and let’s just say that it might be a little too easy to get caught up in the moment after two very successful weeks.  Stay away and thank me later.

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

Jason Kokrak– They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.  So, by that definition, go right ahead and label me as insane, at least when it comes to Jason Kokrak.  The long bomber is still in search of his maiden PGA Tour victory and while it probably won’t happen this week, as I said in this same spot last year, I’ll gladly gobble up all of the Kokrak shares I can get my hands on.  His track record here is nothing special—t-31st last year, t-15th in 2014, along with two missed cuts in between, but he comes into the week in solid form, having finished t-18th at the Desert Classic and t-20th at Torrey Pines the past two weeks.  Oh yeah, and he’s starting to get that consistency thing figured out as his last missed cut on the PGA Tour was the British Open last July!  He still seems to struggle with that one bad round, but assuming that he gets off to a decent start, I really like for his chances this week.  Jason Kokrak is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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