Three straight weeks of heading to a playoff in golf could inevitably continue at this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open as the field will be solid again.
Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Jason Day have been the four winners of 2018 so far. Who will take this weekend’s event? Let’s dive in and preview.
TPC Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona is a 7,162 yard-par 71. One of the cooler holes on Tour is 16 as it has the famous amphitheater that reigns the crowd’s cheers and jeers emphatically.
The par-4 14th hole is the course’s most difficult hole. The next four holes are considered to be the easiest four-hole stretch on the course and make for very exciting finishes with birdies galore.
It’s been the home of two-straight playoffs and always provides for entertaining golf from Thursday to Sunday possibly keeping your attention away from the early part of the Super Bowl. No? I tried.
The Field/Feature Groups
*Note: Groups are the same but the times vary. Time listed is the players’ tee times for Thursday.
9:47 AM ET (off 10th tee): Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama, Webb Simpson: Matsuyama is the two-time defending champion of the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Ironically, his partners are the two players he beat in the previous playoff’s the past two years. I would like to think that Fowler and Simpson will have that on their mind as they play together Thursday and Friday.
9:56 AM ET (off 10th tee): Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Phil Mickelson: Rahm and Mickelson are both Arizona State alums, just a measly 24 years apart. Schauffele graduated from San Diego State. They’re all local guys. Plus, Rahm is one of the hottest on Tour despite a T-27 finish at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open.
2:11 PM ET (off 1st tee): Patton Kizzire, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas: It’s always fun when Thomas and Spieth are playing together. Kizzire, the current number one in the FedEx Cup Standings, will be joined by the previous two winners. This could be a group full of top-10 finishers.
Not only did Hideki Matsuyama win last season, but he won the previous year, too. It’s hard enough to win twice at the same course. To win back-to-back years in playoff’s is even more ridiculous.
“It was a struggle, especially that playoff. But I’m really happy to win,” Matsuyama said via translator following the win last year.
He was able to sink a pressure-filled birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to put away Webb Simpson and claim his second consecutive win at the tournament.
- Stuart Appleby is the only non-American to win the same event three years in a row over the past 100 years. Matsuyama can do it this weekend.
- There have been 12 tournaments in the 2017-18 season so far. Five have gone to a playoff. The last two Waste Management Phoenix Open’s have gone to playoff’s…hmm?
- Thomas and Spieth always play well when they’re paired together as they have a big friendly competition. Expect both to be in the thick of things heading into the weekend.
I’ve correctly picked the last two winners and am now 2-for-4 on the year and I’ll continue picking every week to see where I end up by season’s end.
You hate to be a creature of habit but seeing Matsuyama dominate the course and its playoff stresses the last two years, can you pick against him? I’m certainly not.
I say Matsuyama wins the tournament for the third year in a row and has to fend off Rahm and Mickelson to do so. Mickelson is a bit of a stretch but I believe he can find himself this weekend. Rahm surely won’t be happy after last weekend’s lackluster finish.
Will 2018 see it’s fifth winner or can one of the winners from 2018 pick up their second? It is shaping up to be a solid weekend of golf and should give you something to do on Sunday before the big game.