After a jam-packed leaderboard led to plenty of drama Sunday at Torrey Pines even without Tiger or Phil, the PGA Tour heads to Phoenix this week for this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. Central to all the pre-tournament coverage will be the health of last year’s runaway champion Phil Mickelson who was forced to withdraw from last week’s tournament with a bad back. He’s one fantasy option that would normally on my pick list, but with his injury I’ll save his 10 starts in the Yahoo! format for later in the season.
Last week, he wasn’t on my team, but I did have Tiger who crashed out with a miserable third round leaving many of us without a final round player on the A-list. The three popular choices: Tiger, Phil, and Brandt Snedeker all had disappointing weeks, but there were still some fantasy entries that emerged with good weeks. My entry was saved by a late Graham DeLaet push and I finished with 102 points on the week bring my total to 673.
That score wasn’t even good enough for the top ten, though, in our ultra-competitive, super-fun group over on Yahoo! We have 50 people in our group now which you are still welcome to join by following the instructions you can find by clicking here. Last week, the top score went to PuttingGuru who didn’t have Scott Stalling last week’s winner but he did have DeLaet, Jason Day, and Charlie Hoffman who all finished the week with big point totals. The overall group lead changed hands this week as well with Touchdown Jackrabbits taking over the segment and overall lead on the strength of four top ten’s and a pair of top three’s.
This week, my roster doesn’t include an ailing Phil, but does have some sleepers as well as players that I think blend current form with past history at this event. Here’s my picks for this week’s trip to the desert:
Ryan Moore: Moore is a little bit of a “horse for the course” making five straight cuts at the venue for this weekend’s tournament, the TPC Scottsdale. The most unique feature of the course is its famous finishing trio of holes starting with the entirely enclosed 16th known as “The Coliseum” (right) and a second consecutive par 3 on the 17th (pictured above). He has a trio of top 15’s in those events including a solo fourth last year shooting a blistering 66-66-65-65. When you add in his current form, he’s a great pick as he comes off of top 25 efforts in five of his last six events.
Bubba Watson: Watson is a risky pick, but one that could pay off if he can return to his previous form at the event. He has finished fifth and 15th in his last two trips and typically gets his non-major wins when the scores are low (Travelers, Farmers Insurance, and Zurich).
Keegan Bradley: Bradley has logged an impressive string of seven top-20 finishes in a row on Tour after a t16 last week at Torrey. Bradley is always a threat to win any tournament he’s in if he gets his putter going, and he has a history of good finishes here with a pair of top 25’s in his two previous Waste Management Phoenix Opens.
Graham DeLaet: The Canadian is rolling in off a t7, t6, and t2 in his last three PGA events stretching back to the fall series. He had a breakout campaign in many ways last year, and I think he’ll get his first Tour win this season. He struggled here last year, but is playing much better and I think is a good pick to succeed.
Bill Haas: Haas stumbled a bit last week finishing out of the top 25 for the first time this season with a t43 at Torrey Pines. This week, he’ll return to Scottsdale where he finished t6 last season and t19 in 2012.
Matt Every: Every has placed in the top ten in each of his two trips to TPC Scottsdale most recently a t9 last season. So far this season, he has three top 15’s in his five events including three of his last four.
Ryan Palmer: Palmer is notoriously streaky but has it going the right direction with a pair of top ten’s in his last two starts including a runner-up finish two weeks ago at the Humana. Much like that tournament, this could quickly turn into a shootout and Palmer could quickly charge up the leaderboard. Last year, he finished fifth in this event.
Brendan Steele: Steele is a bit of a sleeper, but he has finished in the top 30 in three of his last four events this season and is coming off a t28 last week that he finished with a 69 on Sunday. Steele has been in the top six the last two tournaments at TPC Scottsdale and could be in line for another good finish this weekend.