There are two times each PGA Tour season when a golf course is the focal point of the tournament and not a player: The Masters and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The Masters known for it's timeless tradition, beauty and challenge while the WM Phoenix Open is known for its stadium-like atmosphere and rowdy crowd. As we all focus on the 16th hole it's easy to forget the defending champion is Mark Wilson (@MarkWilsonGolf) and he will be looking for win number two this season.
(The 16th hole is one of a kind at the WM Phoenix Open. Photo: TPC Scottsdale)
While the players do their best to not be heckled on the 16th, we focus on the Arizona favorite Phil Mickelson. Mickelson finished tied for 49th in his first event and just last week missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open. A two time winner at this event (1996 & 2005), it would be a great place for him to earn PGA Tour career victory number forty.
Along with Mickelson and Wilson there are seven former winners of this event in the field: Mark Calcavecchia won here three times (1989, 1992 & 2001) while Vijay Singh (1995 & 2003) and J.B. Holmes (2006 & 2008) have won twice. Rocco Mediate (1999), Tom Lehman (2000), Aaron Baddely (2007) and Kenny Perry (2009) have all won the event once.
Waste Management Phoenix Open Groups To Watch
3. Bubba Watson, Gary Woodland & Ian Poulter: I pick this group because the fans love them and it will make the 16th hole more entertaining. Poulter (@ianjamespoulter) will look for PGA Tour career victory number two and his first since 2010. Watson (@BubbaWatson) and Woodland (@GaryWoodland) both won in 2011 and are searching for their first of the 2012 season.
2. Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley & Nick Watney: Simpson (@webbsimpson1) is making his first start of the year on the mainland after playing both events in Hawaii. Keegan Bradley (@Keegan_Bradley) is looking to follow up on a dream rookie season while Watney is looking to crack the top ten for the first time in 2012.
1. Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson & Rickie Fowler: If Mickelson is playing, I'm watching him. When he's playing with two great young talents it makes it even more exciting. Rickie Fowler (@RickieFowlerPGA) finished in second place here in 2010. He loves the crowd and they love him so I expect he will feed off the energy it creates. Dustin Johnson (@DJohnsonPGA) is off to a slow start in 2012 but playing with this group could re-energize him.
Picks to Win:
@WAMGolfs: Rickie Fowler
@999Places: Phil Mickelson