Before we talk about the Waste Management Phoenix Open, lets discuss what we learned from last week. Tiger is back! I know, I know, we’ve heard this about a million times over the last few years. This time I mean it. Tiger played like a pile of wet dog poop on Monday and still won the Farmers Insurance Open by four strokes! Tiger was dialed in with his irons and wedges unlike last year. I saw him hit the flagstick or cup at least three times and many more that narrowly missed. Now that we’ve established that, and no one disagrees, lets take a look at this week.
Group A: Jason Dufner has been busy this offseason, playing over in Europe and filming new episodes of Amish Mafia. Now he’s back in the Merica’s and immediately jumps to the top of my rankings. Dufner has only played this tourney two times in the last five years but came away with Top 10′s both times. If you’re worried about jet lag coming back from Europe, go with Bubba Golf. If you’re worried about Bubba being rusty after his stint with the flu last week, try Old Man Mickelson. How about Mark Wilson? Over the last five years Mark Wilson hasn’t missed the cut at Scottsdale, and finished no worse than 48th place. This stretch includes a win in 2011 and a Top 10 back in 2008. Talk about a horse for the course. Sleeper Alert.
Group B: This may sound like really weird advice since neither has made a cut yet this year in four tries, but I am recommending Kevin Na and Ben Crane. Na has missed the cut in his first two tries this year but he owns Scottsdale. Na has three Top 5 finishes in his last 5 starts here. Only 3 of his last 18 rounds have been over par at TPC Scottsdale. Then there is Ben Crane. Crane started off hot last year and fizzled down the stretch. You might blame his back injury for that. Crane had a lot of time to get healthy over the winter and I look for him to get back on track in Scottsdale. Much like Kevin Na, Crane has made this course his ***** over the last 5 tournaments. Crane has two top 5 finishes here in the last five years as well as a 18th and 36th place finish. Have a little faith.
Group C: Group C is where I’ve implementing the one youngster/one geeser strategy. This week I am going away from my boy Luke Guthrie, and am rolling the dice with Russell Henley. Or should I say “Snedeker 2.0″… I still can’t wait for Henley and Snedeker to get paired together. I’m also going to ditch the old geeser strategy and avoid Vijay after the Deer Antler spray news came out. Got to avoid the possible distraction there. Martin Kaymer is a solid choice here but I don’t want two golfers with little or no experience at Scottsdale. Rickie Fowler is a good safe pick to round out my team. He has good history at Scottsdale and should have some momentum after dominating the last three round last week at Torrey Pines.
Keepers and Sleepers
This is a new edition to the column where I will solicit Fantasy Golf advice from a few Fantasy Golf experts and keep track of the results. Each of us will pick one keeper and one sleeper week. The Keeper is our number pick for the tournament. The Sleeper is any golfer ranked outside the Top 50 OWGR that may make a splash.
The 19th Hole – Martin Kaymer – He’ll want to make a statement in his first event of the season….and as an official PGA Tour member.
Future of Fantasy (Me) – Jason Dufner – Lebanon Levi doesn’t mess around and neither does Jason Dufner. Dufner lays down the law this week.
We’re Slicers, not Hookers – Brandt Snedeker – With a 2nd and 3rd place finish already this year Brandt will be looking complete the podium for the season with a big victory.
Jake Gaer – Bo Van Pelt – Rough start to the year so far for Van Pelt, compared to 2012. Back to back top-20 finishes here the past two years, this course could be just what he needs to get 2013 started off right.
The 19th Hole – Kevin Na – With two MC’s in two events already this season, look for him to use this to boost his confidence. Five top fives in seven starts at this event.
Future of Fantasy (Me) – Ben Crane – He watched his Golf Boys crew make a lot of noise last year, and now it’s his time to capitalize in Scottsdale.
We’re Slicers, not Hookers – Matt Every – With a T8 at the 2010 Waste Management in his first PGA tour event Matt is looking to jumpstart his 2013 campaign at a familiar venue.
Jake Gaer – J.B. Holmes – Over the past two years JB Holmes has endured a divorce and brain surgery. 2013 is the first year that Holmes has had an entire off season devoted to golf, and what better place to get his career back on track than on a track where he has won twice.
My Top 15 for the Waste Management Phoenix Open
1. Jason Dufner
2. Kevin Na
3. Ben Crane
4. Phil Mickelson
5. Martin Kaymer
6. Brandt Snedeker
7. Mark Wilson
8. Russell Henley
9. Jason Day
10. Bo Van Pelt
11. Scott Piercy
12. Bubba Watson
13. Nick Watney
14. Luke Guthrie
15. Rickie Fowler