Our tips for the 2013 edition of this event will be published on this page on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon! Other Jan 2013 events: Hyundai Tournament Of Champions, Sony Open In Hawaii, Humana Challenge & Farmers Insurance Open. In the meantime you can check out our stats pages for the Waste Management Phoenix Open in our stats section.
Last week's Farmers Insurance Open delivered a cliff-hanger at Torrey Pines. Brandt Snedeker's victory delivered my first winner of the 2012 season at 22/1 in combination with Haas delivering at 40/1 EW. I hope you were on board!
The PGA Tour continually moves forward and the 5th episode of the season opening West-Coast swing is being played out at TPC Scottsdale. Golf in the Arizona desert is slightly different to that which we saw at the classical Torrey Pines last week with altitude, desert scrub land and Bermuda Poa Trivialis greens conjuring up a different set of challenges for some of the world's best players. The $6.1 million prize fund is the biggest on the PGA Tour so far in 2012 and that always attracts a decent field to the Scottsdale suburb of Phoenix, which actually houses a high number of touring pros anyway. Don't be surprised to see a 'local' in the mix come Sunday afternoon. Simpson, Snedeker, Laird, Kuchar, Fowler, Watney, Mickelson, Bradley, Haas, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson and the season debuting Ian Poulter headline a field with a strong depth to it.
TPC Scottsdale is a 7,200 yard Par 71 which is resort in nature. Scoring will be relatively low this week, with scores of -14 (Perry 09), -16 (Mahan 10) and -18 (Wilson 11) being the red numbers required for victory over the past 3 tournament renewals. Scottsdale though does have teeth and it's critical to both keep the ball in play and hit lots of greens. Players that continually attack will find trouble and make too many bogies to become champion. Indeed both Wilson and Mahan only dropped shots on 4 of their 72 holes when taking the title.
So, in summary, TPC Scottsdale is a fair test where any kind of player can eventually triumph including rookies, first time winners and multiple champions. This week will boil down to those who minimise mistakes and take their chances on the Bermuda-Poa mix greens. I'm looking for players who can hit plenty of greens and who have a history of performing on resort courses. They need to be Bermuda green positive but don't have to have necessarily won on that surface………yet! Also take note that Ladbrokes are offering 6 places this week for Each Way backers.
Young Mr Fowler has been on my shortlist for this event since before Christmas and naturally I was ecstatic to see his name on the entry list last Friday evening. He was never going to win at Torrey Pines last week on the basis that he was opening his 2012 campaign, but in my eyes his performance there was absolutely perfect. Rickie semi-contended across the 4 days and his 13th place finish was a superb season opener. He hit 72% of greens and more importantly only made 5 bogies – key to this week in Phoenix. Fowler sees TPC Scottsdale as a real opportunity to get his first win on the PGA Tour and his victory at the Kolon Korea Open – where McIlroy finished 2nd 6 shots in arrears – at the close of 2011 could well be the final piece of the mental jigsaw. 3 appearances here have delivered 58th (09), 13th (11) and 2nd (10) and 2nd place finishes at Muirfield (10) and Firestone (11) match-up perfectly as strong courses for the last 3 champions here. Add an array of Top 5 and Top 10 performances both in the desert at TPC Summerlin and Greyhawk plus Disney and I think you'll agree that Rickie has a great shot at it this week. RESULT: T26
Naturally Bubba 'Dukes of Hazzard' Watson will be driving to TPC Scottsdale in the General Lee and his relaxed nature will make him very dangerous. In truth, I think the bookmakers have seriously underestimated Watson's chances this week. Let me explain. Watson is a top level player whose 3 wins have been across Bent, Poa Annua and Bermuda putting surfaces. The World Number 24 has an impressively consistent recent form-line of 13 (Torrey) - 18 (Kapalua)- 6 (Thousand Oaks)- 12 (Aus PGA)- 12 (Aus Open)- 23 (East Lake) and his game right now is shouting 'contention' loudly. Watson averages 309 yards from the tee in 2012 and has hit 80% of Greens in Regulation where he sits 3rd in category. 2nd at Palm Springs and 3rd at Copperhead in 2010 highlight his liking of Bermuda Poa Trivialis greens and wins at TPC River Highlands, Torrey Pines and TPC Louisiana were with winning scores of -14, -16 and -15 respectively. His 5 attempts here have delivered 8th on debut-MC-25-36-29 (last year). Very un-Bubba like so if the putter clicks expect a serious challenge. RESULT: T5
Almost exactly 2 years ago Camilo Villegas was finishing 3rd just down the road at Dove Mountain in the WGC Accenture World Match Play. Next time out he won his 3rd PGA Tour title and his second on Bermuda greens at PGA National and proudly sat 12th in the World Rankings. Now he sits on a precipice. Put simply, if Spiderman doesn't hit the straps this week and deliver a Top 5 finish he drops out of the World Top 100 with only Pebble Beach and Riviera between him and missing out of the World Matchplay. Even more importantly, like Anthony Kim he sits without an invite to Augusta in April. Unlike Kim who has badly let us down in the past 2 weeks Camilo's recovery is in-progress and 22nd at Torrey Pines and 19th at Palm Springs included over 70% of Greens in Regulation, tons of birdies and few bogies. Fact is Camilo finished 2011 strongly with 6th at Cog Hill and 4th at The Mines as his rebuilt putting technique has started to deliver. 6 Scottsdale appearances have delivered 2nd on debut here in 2006 and 8th in 2010 and if he plays like he has done so far in 2012 this Bermuda 'monster' will be motivated to deliver this week like never before. RESULT: T73
Talking of Bermuda carpet 'monsters' let me introduce Ben Crane to my Phoenix Open team. As I said at the top of the article, TPC Scottsdale suits all games and Crane is straight out of the Mark Wilson mould. He hits fairways and greens plus can shoot incredibly low scores with his birdie making style. Indeed his recent Bermuda form shows 8th (Palm Springs)- 9th (Kapalua)- 1st (Seaside) – 37th (Atlanta Athletic). If you asked me, Crane's best course I'd snap back TPC Sawgrass, but you underestimate his resort course performance at your peril. Indeed we scored at 40/1 when he won again on Bermuda at The Mines Par 71 in 2010 with a score of -21 beating a top-class lineup into the bargain. However it's Crane's motivation that really gets my attention this week as, despite winning the McGladrey Classic last autumn, the Westlake Texas resident hasn't got an invite to Augusta in April where he would be playing his 5th Masters. A win this week get's him to Augusta or deliver a series of Top 5 finishes and he will jump from his current 58th World Rank in to the Top 50. Fall back and he won't even make the WGC Accenture World Matchplay (where he has played the last 2 years) in a couple of weeks. Either way the Scottsdale track holds positive memories as he finished 4th here on debut and was 18th here last year. RESULT: 2nd
Regular followers will have cashed in on Bryce at Corde Valle last autumn where the Scottsdale resident finally won his first PGA Tour title and delivered my 6th winner of 2011 at a juicy 40/1. I've always rated the Scottsdale resident, who was educated in Georgia, extremely highly and his career is littered with results that link to this tournament strongly. Top 10s have been delivered at Pebble Beach, Humble, Colonial, St Jude, TPC River Highlands, Montreaux, TPC Summerlin, Greyhawk and Disney in recent seasons. Phew! Better still Molder isn't dining out on the 2 year PGA Tour exemption he grabbed with his Frys.com Open win. He's better than that and started the year with an impressive 7th at Kapalua followed up with 13th last week at Torrey Pines which really caught my eye. Why? Well his previous 4 appearances in San Diego had delivered 4 MCs. Bryce was 8th here on debut in 2010 and his combined desert and resort course performances allied to his new found belief could deliver a decent return this week. RESULT: T15
Regular column follower and 2011 Punters League Champion Kenneth Quillinan highlighted the highly talented Canadian to me at the start of DeLaet's rookie season in 2010. Being honest he was totally new to me but his rookie season was fantastic and included 24th at Waialae, 18th at Palm Springs, 3rd at Humble, 5th at Annandale and 6th at Corde Valle. Indeed the Idaho educated Delaet finished 2010 ranked 6th in Driving Distance, 6th in Greens in Regulation, 2nd in Total Driving and 2nd in Ball Striking categories. Most importantly he finished 100th in the Money List guaranteeing his full 2011 playing privileges. The Canadian sat out the majority of 2011 due to a back injury and is playing 2012 out of the Major Medical Extension category so he needs some results. An opening 63 and the 1st round lead at Waialae on a course that simply doesn't suit highlighted to me a player full of confidence and again he sits in the Top 10 both for Driving Distance, Total Driving, Greens in Regulation and Ball Striking categories so far in 2012. This guy can play tee to green! If the putter warms 20/1 for a Top 10 will be a steal come the weekend. RESULT: T55. Odds and bookmaker offers correct 20:00GMT 31.1.12 but naturally subject to fluctuation.
Our tips, picks and predictions for the 2013 edition of this event will be published here on the Tuesday before the event - bookmark this page and come back soon!