The Waste Management Phoenix Open is replete with a handful of unusual characteristics, not the least of which is the rarely subdued, par-3 16th hole.
Along with the Mayakoba Golf Classic, the WMPO is the only other tournament on the schedule with 132 golfers. It's also the largest field on a singular course between Mayakoba in mid-November and the collection of 144 at The Honda Classic that ends on March 1. This is due to TPC Scottsdale's latitude at this time of year. There are only so many daylight hours to squeeze in the 36-hole cut by Friday, and even that's not guaranteed.
Of the 25 events with four-spotters, the 18-hole sprint for the WMPO is the only that yields just three exemptions into the tournament proper. Speaking of which, PGATOUR.com now has a dedicated contributor tackling the open qualifiers.
Ryan French, who is widely known as @acaseofthegolf1 on Twitter, has been commissioned to cover this sliver of those fields. Click here for his review of the three who qualified for the WMPO: Patrick Flavin, Alex Smalley and Zack Sucher. While I've since transplanted to Arizona, it's always awesome to have another Chicagolander on staff. Welcome, good sir!
In our world, the WMPO slots as the only tournament in a four-week stretch with all facets of fantasy scoring turned on. Because it's the only event of the four contested on just one course, ShotLink technology measures 100 percent of the action. This means that bonuses for long drives, putts and hole-outs will apply.
RELATED: Power Rankings
PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf
My roster for the Waste Management Phoenix Open (in alphabetical order):
You’ll find my starters in Expert Picks.
Others to consider for each category (in alphabetical order):
Scoring: Byeong Hun An; Tony Finau; Chesson Hadley; Brian Harman; Tom Hoge; Sungjae Im; Kevin Na; Ryan Palmer; Xander Schauffele; Scottie Scheffler; Cameron Smith; Justin Thomas
Driving: Bryson DeChambeau; Branden Grace; Adam Hadwin; Viktor Hovland; Sungjae Im; Martin Laird; Ryan Moore; Ryan Palmer; Scottie Scheffler; Brendan Steele; Bubba Watson; Matthew Wolff; Gary Woodland
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Tony Finau … Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. But what about four times? If he doesn't deliver this week, then that's where we'll stand at TPC Scottsdale. This is the fourth consecutive year that I'm endorsing him on this course. You'd think I'd learn given that he's 0-for-4 since 2016 with only one round better than par. (He did finish T22 in 2015 with three red numbers, so there's that.) So, why yet again? Well, it's two-fold and neither angle is quantifiable. First, as I wrote the last two weeks, his focus is back after the pressure of qualifying for the Presidents Cup. He's gone 5th-T14-T6 worldwide in the last three weeks. Boom. The other component is deeply personal to him; that is, his appreciation and affinity for the late Kobe Bryant. Finau tweeted as much on Monday. From Ben Crenshaw at the 1995 Masters, to George McNeill at Greenbrier in 2014, to Cameron Champ earlier this season at Silverado, we've witnessed many inspirational performances that defied supportive analytical reasoning. Respect.
Bryson DeChambeau … He'll learn from the late fade in Dubai (where he finished T8) and he's likely to learn quickly. On the surface, he's enjoyed a fruitful seven months, and he finished T5 in his only prior trip to TPC Scottsdale (2018), so arrows are up. This also is as good as time as any to remind you that no matter your personal feelings about any golfer – positive or otherwise – never let your heart make decisions reserved for your head. Sure, it's beautiful when you can celebrate where your love leads, but fantasy is a results-based pastime. All golfers can contribute to your success. Let them.
Cameron Smith … Coming off a disappointing T64 at Torrey Pines where only one other who made the cut (Trey Mullinax) hit fewer than his 41 greens in regulation. And that was following a week off post-victory at Waialae. TPC Scottsdale offers a respite of sorts, so confidence remains high as a rebound candidate in DFS. He's survived three straight cuts in the tournament with a personal-best T15 last year.
Ryan Palmer … It was music to gamers' ears that he spoke glowingly of his driver last week. Of course, he closed with a confusing 77 to finish T21, but it was just one bad round (no matter how poorly timed) and his worst result in his last five starts. He's performed just as strongly off the tee at TPC Scottsdale in the past, so the expectation is that that confidence will marry with what has looked great across the desert landscape on multiple occasions.
Tom Hoge … Dude is on a heater with a T12, a T6 and a solo fifth this month. The only problem is that you're not the first to notice. Then again, maybe your opposition will be the first to blink and deviate into historically more reliable talent. Classic cat-and-mouse game.
Matthew Wolff … Back to where it all started, albeit as an amateur and only one year ago. Funny how some talents stretch time because it sure feels like a lot longer ago that he splashed onto the PGA TOUR. He was a Sleeper for the 2019 WMPO and finished T50. He's missed only one cut in 14 career starts and finished inside the top 25 in half of them, including a T21 last week at Torrey Pines.
Corey Conners … This is the first time that he's qualified for the WMPO, but that phrase applies figuratively as well. At T11 in greens in regulation and with six consecutive top-20s upon arrival, he's on the short list to pace all first-timers in the field.
Scottie Scheffler … One of the last cuts from the Power Rankings, he got a taste for toughness at Torrey Pines where he missed his first cut of the season. (As detailed in my Rookie Ranking, it aligns with the wall for many rookies who get off to a consistently strong start.) He can play aggressively again this week, so his combination of power and precision tee to green projects to spark a new consecutive cuts-made streak.
Ryan Moore … He showed me at The American Express where I faded him in advance of a T6. Gotta tip your cap when it's deserved. Unless he reverses logic at TPC Scottsdale, expect a continuation of form despite missed cuts in the last two editions. From 2009-2017, he went 9-for-9 with three top-10s and another trio of top-20s.
Viktor Hovland … As much joy as he exudes, you can envision him piercing the turf at TPC Scottsdale for years to come. This is his first appearance, however, so his learning curve will be tested. Still, as well as he nuts it tee to green, he's all but a certainty to make the cut. The only concern, albeit mild because of his youth, is that he made the trip from Dubai after a T23 on Sunday.
Zach Johnson … It'd be surprising if he doesn't get this right, um, right? No matter form over time, he's perfect in seven trips since 2009 with five top-25s. Two top-25s this season and still a wizard with his irons.
Jordan Spieth … Until he puts four rounds together, it's hard to keep the faith, so the fantasy messaging remains the same. Only speculative investors who are holding their breath should consider.
J.B. Holmes … Quite simply, I want to see it again. He finished T16 at Torrey Pines with progressively higher scores (after starting with 68 on the South Course). It was his first top-50 finish in a full-field event in seven months. His success at TPC Scottsdale is no secret. Twice a winner (2006, 2008) and with two top 10s and only four missed cuts in 14 starts overall, he's a staple. Put it all together and he's ideal for only fractional play in DFS.
Chez Reavie … Which Reavie will show up? The ASU product lost in a playoff (to Gary Woodland) two years ago, and then placed T4 last year, but in his first nine tries, he made only three cuts and didn't crack the top 40. More importantly, he's gone five months without a top-25 in official competition. For a talent as streaky as he's proven to be, gamers must be cautious.
Andrew Landry … Took last week off after reemerging for victory at PGA WEST. Until he proves otherwise, investment must remain in the long-term. It doesn't help that he's just 1-for-2 at TPC Scottsdale with a T60 last year and that was after he sat T12 at the midpoint.
Aaron Wise … First-timer. While 15th on TOUR in greens hit, he's missed the cut in five of his last six starts as a result of problems with his putting. Wait until he gets it sorted.
Charl Schwartzel … The South African is making his first appearance on the PGA TOUR since the Zurich Classic of New Orleans nine months ago. A wrist injury sidelined him for seven months until he returned with a T3 at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Forever lightning in a bottle, he's since missed the cut in two events on the European Tour. He also missed the cut in his debut at TPC Scottsdale last year. Including the WMPO, he has 12 starts on a Major Medical Extension to earn 262.332 FedExCup points and retain status.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Adam Hadwin … Shout it with me, gang: Cue the Nappy Factor! His first child (Maddox Amelia) was born on Jan. 8. While the most cynical gamers who believe in the Nappy Factor would have preferred a boy to fulfill the original theory of application, gender never has been an airtight measure to determine where our expectations should lie. If anything, as I've chronicled throughout the years in this space, the weeks and months in advance of the imminent birth tend to reveal an understandable loss of focus. That research is worth a column all to its own someday, but you can't rule out the Canadian's contributions as evidence. After opening the season 2nd-T4, he finished outside the top 40 in three starts before going 1-1-1 at the Presidents Cup. Certainly, you could make the same argument that I have for Tony Finau, also a captain's pick, in that making the team applied pressure, but there's zero question that Hadwin's life outside the ropes has renewed purpose now. That he's 4-for-4 with two top 20s at TPC Scottsdale since 2016 is the kind of bonus that even those cynical gamers can appreciate.
Nate Lashley … A wrist injury forced him out of The American Express after 18 holes. He also withdrew just one round into The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in October, but an explanation wasn't released, and he opened 2020 by going T19-T53 on the Aloha Swing. Leave him be in his WMPO debut.
Si Woo Kim … Called it quits after one round of The American Express with a sore back. It's nothing new despite his age (24). There's also nothing inspiring on which to hang your visor for a return to the leaderboard this week. Just 2-for-4 without a top-60 at TPC Scottsdale.
Danny Lee … Ended his week at Torrey Pines after one round due to a back injury. He missed the cut the previous week at PGA WEST. With only one top-40 (fourth, 2016) baked into a 2-for-7 record at TPC Scottsdale, there's no urgency to roster him here.
Wesley Bryan … Committed to the Korn Ferry Tour's Panama Championship. It's been a full year since he had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He can make up to five rehab starts on the KFT. Numerous notables over the years have recovered from the same surgery and continued to excel at various levels. The smattering includes Kirk Triplett, Gary Woodland and Pat Perez. Whenever Bryan returns to the PGA TOUR, he'll have 21 starts on a Major Medical Extension to earn 375.582 FedExCup points and retain status.
Steve Stricker … He didn't commit until after the first deadline, so he was a late entry. The 52-year-old is burning his second of two possible career earnings exemptions this season. He's missed the cut in both starts he's made.
POWER RANKINGS RECAP – FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Jon Rahm 2nd
2 Rory McIlroy T3
3 Justin Rose MC
4 Hideki Matsuyama T45
5 Xander Schauffele MC
6 Tiger Woods T9
7 Gary Woodland MC
8 Tony Finau T6
9 Cameron Smith T64
10 Collin Morikawa T21
11 Ryan Palmer T21
12 Scottie Scheffler MC
13 Patrick Reed T6
14 Sungjae Im T36
15 Rickie Fowler MC
Wild Card Brandt Snedeker T3
SLEEPERS RECAP – FARMERS INSURANCE OPEN
Joel Dahmen T55
Emiliano Grillo MC
Harry Hall MC
Trey Mullinax 78th
Matthew NeSmith T30
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE GOLFERS ON THE PGA TOUR
January 28 … none
January 29 … none
January 30 … none
January 31 … none
February 1 … Rhein Gibson (34)
February 2 … none
February 3 … Heath Slocum (46); Chris Stroud (38)