The Tour heads to the desert for its annual party at the Waste Management Open and the TPC Scottsdale’s “Coliseum” 16th hole. Over the years, the Waste Management has become one of the high profile stops of the Tour’s West Coast Swing because of raucous crowds and a vibe that attracts many of the Tour’s young stars. This year’s tournament field is stout with 11 of the world’s top 25 players and plenty of storylines to boot.
4 Storylines to watch
3-Peat - After two weeks off, Justin Thomas will look to continue his winning ways from Hawaii and win his third consecutive event. Thomas’ previous history at the course is a mixed bag with a missed cut in 2016 and a t17th in 2015.
Repeat - Golf’s other young budding superstar who has been on a tear, Hideki Matsuyama, will look to defend his title at TPC Scottsdale. Matsuyama has been brilliant in his career here notching a win in 2016, a t2nd in 2015 and a 4th place finish in 2014.
Spieth show - The golden boy will be making his first trip into “the coliseum” 16th at TPC Scottsdale. Despite falling to his lowest world ranking (6th) since January of 2015, Spieth has had a sneaky good start to 2017 with a t3rd and a solo 3rd place finish in his first two starts in 2017.
Star Studded pairings - PGA Tour officials cut no corners creating a few premier pairings for early round action. Set the DVR or tune in to PGA Tour live to see these guys in action:
Spieth, Rahm, Fowler (AM/PM)
Matsuyama, Berger, Koepka (AM/PM)
Thomas, Mickelson, Hadwin (PM/AM)
Reed, Watson, Kuchar (PM/AM)
The duel in the desert
Last year’s tournament treated golf fans to one of the best finishes of the year as Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler traded heavyweight blows down the stretch. Fowler led by two shots but a bad break on the par-4 17th led to Fowler’s ball finding the water and Matsuyama pulling even and the two headed to extra holes while the Super Bowl kicked off. On the 4th playoff hole, Fowler blinked hitting it into the water on the drivable 17th allowing Matsuyama to cruise to victory with a par. Full highlights
Reflecting back, it’s interesting to look at what has happened to each player since that playoff. Fowler has been in a tailspin, notching zero victories and tumbling in the world rankings from 4th to 14th. Meanwhile, Matsuyama entered last year’s Waste Management ranked 19th and has since won 4 other times and moved to 5th in the world rankings. One can only wonder if this would have been the case had the tournament gone the other way.
The annual host to the party is the TPC of Scottsdale, a brainchild of former PGA Tour Commish Deane Beman. The design was done by TPC favorite Tom Weiskopf and his design partner Jay Morrish. In 2014, the track underwent a $12 million renovation with the goal of reining in the bombers who had rendered the previous course’s defenses useless. The course’s design is centered around the fan and has a thrilling finish with the reachable par-5 15th, the bland par-3 16th which is made exciting because of the atmosphere, the drivable par-4 17th and the tough par-4 18th. A stretch that last year proved can swing the championship with one shot. All in all, the 7,266 yards, par 71 layout is an average course in a below average golf city that happens to charge $300+ a round in peak season...yikes.
I’m hearing that a lot of people are thrown off by Draftkings pricing this week. Luckily, Paulie has you covered with a couple DFS and one and done picks as well as a longshot to win pick. Check them all out here.
The other main attraction this week is the Dubai Desert Classic where Tiger Woods collected his first big check of the year (an appearance fee) and will peg it with some of Europe’s best. Woods, who is a two time winner of the event (2006 and 2008), will be paired with last year’s champion and EuroRyder Cupper Danny Willett as well as England’s phenom Matt Fitzpatrick. The premier trio will be joined by a host of other big names including last week’s winner Jeunghun Wang, Thomas Pieters, Martin Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton and everyone’s favorite Englishman Ian Poulter...that was a joke. Coverage kicks off tonight at 11pm EST with Woods in the early wave so set your DVR’s or drink a late cup of coffee.
A guy to root for
We fired up the podcast to talk with longtime fried egg supporter Tee-K Kelly who is embarking on his quest to play on the PGA Tour. Tee-K starred at the Ohio State University winning an NCAA Regional as well as two Illinois State Amateur Championships. We talk to Tee-K about his background, his amateur career, what he is doing to prepare for the start of the Latin American Tour and much more. Give it a listen on our website or iTunes.
Last year, Bob Parsons made a splash in the equipment industry with his startup company PXG which touted the best golf equipment ever made and hefty price tags. One year later and the jury is still out on whether or not the equipment is any better than their competitors which cost ⅓ the price. Despite little to no improvement from their Tour roster’s game and no proof that their product is actually better than the competition, Parsons announced that the next line of PXG clubs would be even more expensive. Let’s just hope that the new line produces tangible results and is not just selling smoke and mirrors.
On TV this week
One thing worth DVRing: Chronicles of a Champion: Tiger Woods on Golf Channel Wednesday 2/1 at 9:30 pm EST
PGA Tour - Waste Management Phoenix Open
Thursday: Golf Channel 3 - 7 pm EST
Friday: Golf Channel 3 - 7 pm EST
Saturday: Golf Channel 1:30 - 2:30 pm EST & CBS 3 - 6 pm EST
Sunday: Golf Channel 1:30 - 2:30 pm EST & CBS 3 - 6 pm EST
European Tour - Dubai Desert Classic
Wednesday: Golf Channel 11 pm - 8:30 am EST
Thursday: Golf Channel 11 pm - 8:30 am EST
Saturday: Golf Channel 3:30 am - 8:00 am EST
Sunday: Golf Channel 3:30 am - 8:00 am EST
P-Reed adds to his legend.
Never forget: Bubba’s rant at the 2016 Waste Management.
World’s smallest violin: Tiger has to fly commercial to Dubai.
Hogan files for bankruptcy.
The Tron Special
A shirt devoted to the player that Tron feels embodies the expression “Lacks Pop Can’t Play” #LPCP, Matt Kuchar, get yours today.