No matter how the carnage at the Farmers Insurance Open influenced you, it’s a new week and a new segment in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS, so let’s turn the page. Please!
The Waste Management Phoenix Open begins an 11-tournament stretch that includes the no-cut World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship. The penultimate stop is Augusta National for the Masters, which will be the third and final event of Segment 2 that uses only scoring and FedExCup bonus points to measure performance. (Next week’s annual fun at Pebble Beach and the Puerto Rico Open in late March are the other two that eschew the detailed scoring.) The other eight will utilize the full array of tee-to-cup fantasy scoring, which brings us back to the WMPO.
TPC Scottsdale hosts 132 golfers from which 70 (or 53 percent) are guaranteed to make the cut. When over half the field is looking at staying the weekend, gamers can afford to get a little aggressive. And with a couple of cornerstone tournaments on tap in Segment 2, it’s not too soon to begin thinking about saving a start among the notables.
Part and parcel with the plan is to lean on solid drivers this week. In and of its own, driving is the most valuable facet to piling up points in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS, but it’s also proven to serve as a reliable weapon at TPC Scottsdale.
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf driven by AVIS
You'll find my lineup in Expert Picks, including my strategy for Bubba Watson, but here are others to consider for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
NOTE: I've limited this section to golfers who I'm endorsing in the Power Rankings, Sleepers and below.
Scoring: Jason Dufner; Rickie Fowler; David Lingmerth; William McGirt; Phil Mickelson; Kevin Na; Justin Thomas
Driving: Jason Dufner; Harris English; Si Woo Kim; David Lingmerth; Webb Simpson; Hudson Swafford
Approach: Zach Johnson; David Lingmerth; William McGirt; Kevin Na; Webb Simpson
Short: Rickie Fowler; Phil Mickelson; Brandt Snedeker; Hudson Swafford
Power Rankings Wild Card
Phil Mickelson … The all-time money leader at the Waste Management Phoenix Open famously opened his title here in 2013 with a 59 1/2. We know he loves the joint, but that still remains his only top 20 in his last seven trips. A T3 at PGA WEST two weeks ago seemed like a harbinger, and he’s already turned the page from missing the cut at Torrey Pines, which essentially shared co-champion honors with Mother Nature, so it’s time to get back on Lefty’s bandwagon.
J.B. Holmes … Critics in the discussion beneath the Power Rankings are quick to point out that he’s a two-time winner at TPC Scottsdale. What they’re conveniently omitting is that the second of those titles was eight years ago. Since a T5 in 2011, he’s fared no better than T45 (2012). No, this endorsement isn’t so much about course history as it is about form upon arrival. Ever since he’s put the brain surgeries in the rearview mirror and established a stronger connection with his faith, the 33-year-old has been nails almost everywhere. Last week’s T6 is the latest proof of why he belongs in every lineup this week even if he were making his WMPO debut.
Billy Horschel … Look who’s heating up again. Veteran gamers already know that it doesn’t take long for the 2014 FedExCup champion to gain traction once he connects on a good week. Tied for eighth at Torrey Pines where he ranked seventh in greens hit. If you buy into his rhetoric about embracing difficult courses, it was a predictable result. Meanwhile, he’s 2-for-3 at TPC Scottsdale with a T11 in 2013.
Gary Woodland … After co-leading the Farmers at the midpoint, he faded into joint 18th with a weather-aided 82 in the final round. Of course, he wasn’t the only one, but it masked his prior handiwork. For the record, it was his fourth straight top 25 dating back to November. Missed the cut (on the number) for the first time in six tries at TPC Scottsdale last year, but has a couple of top 20s on the course. Gamers’ confidence should be high, especially in AVIS.
Si Woo Kim … Perhaps the most interesting talent about whom no one is talking in the mainstream. Exceptionally balanced across the board for his age (20) and ranks eighth in adjusted scoring. Top 20s in each of his last five tournaments, all of which where he made his debut. Now getting his first look at TPC Scottsdale.
Harris English … Rinse and repeat. Doesn’t miss many cuts and he’s 4-for-4 at TPC Scottsdale with a pair of top 15s. This plays into the hands of AVIS gamers and DFSers.
Scott Piercy … He’s what you get when you marry a sparkling record (five top 15s and a career-low-tying 61 in the 2013 finale) with solid form. It’s that simple.
Graham DeLaet … He finished a respective T2 and T7 in the last two editions, but he set up similarly at Torrey Pines with top 10s in his previous two trips, only to be unraveled by the wind en route to a T69. Still, he deserves a chance for redemption. Gamers love the guy, too. I often wonder if it’s primarily because of the phenomenon that you want to be on board for his breakthrough title. Whatever the case, you’re relieved of some of the concern because he’s above average in his ability to get the ball on the green.
Jamie Lovemark … Failed to deliver at Torrey Pines where he was consistent en route to a 4-over 292, but off the radar at T31. Gamers are smart to give him the benefit of the doubt with an easier task this week and as he’s still riding the mojo that produced top 10s in all three starts leading up to the Farmers. Ignore his 0-for-2 at TPC Scottsdale.
Justin Thomas … First start since missing the cut in Honolulu, which ended a consecutive cuts made streak at 13, embedded in which was his breakthrough title (in Malaysia). Tied for 17th in his first look at TPC Scottsdale last year. Ranked T6 in greens hit, seventh in proximity, ninth in strokes gained: tee-to-green and T1 in par-5 scoring for the week. Suffice it to say that he likes the place.
Kevin Streelman … Fool me once, shame on you. After missing the cut in four consecutive editions of the Farmers and not having shown up since 2012, he posted a solo third last week. However, the foundation for his confidence was built with a T11 at PGA WEST. Focusing on this week, the Scottsdale resident is in search of his first top 25 in what is now his ninth appearance in his backyard. Fool me twice? Probably.
Emiliano Grillo … In his first appearance at TPC Scottsdale, he’s poised to make noise, but he’s instead another week from the blistering form that commanding the landscape just a few short months ago. We can accept the rookie learning curve, but we still need to make decisions. Despite quite a bit of red on the board this season – 16 of 20 rounds are under par – there’s no debate that he’s been quieter than expected.
Nick Watney … Well, he’s not experiencing the same kind of immediate turnaround that ensued when he hired Todd Anderson to oversee things. Back with Butch Harmon now, Watney has opened 2016 with two missed cuts. His long-term prognosis is fantastic, but if we were going to see a switch flipped in his form, like we did in 2013 after leaving Harmon, it would have happened at Torrey Pines last week. Solid record at TPC Scottsdale, but missed last year’s cut.
Chris Kirk … At 51st in the Official World Golf Ranking, he’s outside the top 50 for the first time since May of 2014. The slide is due in part to a sputtering stretch since returning from a broken hand in the Playoffs. Continue to monitor, of course, but he’s an overvalued reach until further notice.
Pat Perez … Maroon and gold through and through, the Arizona State product started his career 0-for-6 at TPC Scottsdale. He’s since figured it out, failing to cash only one time in the last eight editions, and that was due to getting disqualified for signing an incorrect scorecard in 2013. That stretch also included four top 25s. However, he’s been out of sync for months, going eight consecutive starts sans a top 60.
Russell Henley … You’d have to check my record, but I don’t recall turning you off him often. Yet, with scuffling form and a forgettable track record at TPC Scottsdale, only full-season gamers will be please with whatever he provides. The rest of us will wait for another time to pounce.
Jason Bohn … Pretty much made his season with a trio of top threes in the fall, but save a T11 here in 2007, he’s been a non-factor at TPC Scottsdale with only one other top 60 in a total of 10 appearances.
Ian Poulter … Perhaps coincidentally, he’s appeared only in Ryder Cup years. Now in his fourth try, the Englishman would be keen to match a T24 in his debut in 2010, but there isn’t enough evidence to warrant even a spot on a short list. Just one top 30 on U.S. soil in the last eight months.
Daniel Summerhays … Something will give. He arrives with 10 consecutive cuts made, five of which going for a top 15, but he’s 0-for-4 at TPC Scottsdale with only one sub-70 score. Given his current form, his first weekend stay is likely, but temper your expectations otherwise.
Returning to Competition
Ken Duke ... First start of the season and as a 47-year-old. He’s been sidelined with a wrist injury. Fully exempt and figures to remain as busy as usual as long as his body can handle it. Worth a pickup in deeper, full-season formats.
Freddie Jacobson ... Skiing with his family. He broke the news in an interview following his second round of the Farmers Insurance Open. The Swede parlayed a 69-69 start into a share of fourth place on Monday.
Power Rankings Recap – Farmers Insurance Open
Rank Player Finish 1 Jason Day MC 2 Brandt Snedeker Win 3 Phil Mickelson MC 4 Rickie Fowler MC 5 Bill Haas MC 6 Jimmy Walker T4 7 Charles Howell III T16 8 Jamie Lovemark T31 9 Patrick Reed WD 10 Hideki Matsuyama MC 11 Shane Lowry T13 12 Dustin Johnson T18 13 Zac Blair MC 14 Marc Leishman MC 15 Scott Stallings T25
Birthdays among active golfers on the PGA TOUR
February 2 … Bob Estes (50)
February 3 … Retief Goosen (47); Heath Slocum (42); Chris Stroud (34)
February 4 … none
February 5 … Kevin Stadler (36)
February 6 … Tim Herron (46); Ricky Barnes (35)
February 7 … none
February 8 … none