Power Rankings: Waste Management Phoenix Open
January 30, 2019
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
Jon Rahm gets the crowd roaring with birdie at Waste Management
The People's Open. The Greatest Show on Grass. However you identify it, it's a helluva good time.
Every sporting event presents a unique gaggle of goings-on, but the Waste Management Phoenix Open is in its own league. From the nightly concerts nearby to the raucous, par-3 16th hole to its distinction as the most-attended golf tournament in the world, the fabulous tournament hosted by the Thunderbirds is a bucket-list experience for both fans and field alike.
Scroll beneath the ranking for more on this week's edition, what the 132 entrants can expect at TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course and more.
Bubba Watson, Zach Johnson, Daniel Berger, Tyrrell Hatton and red-hot Talor Gooch will appear in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider along with other notables.
Johnny Miller will be signing off as NBC Sports' lead golf analyst this week. Before his induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1998 and prior to his launch in broadcasting, the 25-time PGA TOUR winner was known as the Desert Fox. It was a proper nickname given his mountain of success in the Southwest that included two wins and a playoff loss among five top 10s at Phoenix Country Club in the old Phoenix Open Invitational.
Although Phoenix CC was a walk in the parkland, Miller's combination of distance and precision was the model for how to conquer target golf, which helps explain why it traveled to Tucson (four wins) and the Coachella Valley (two wins). While easier expressed than executed, it's defined the champions at TPC Scottsdale, very much a desert track.
The likes of Phil Mickelson (thrice), J.B. Holmes (twice), Hunter Mahan and Kyle Stanley have prevailed at TPC Scottsdale. All known as long off the tee, deadly on approach or both. Since Tom Weiskopf's redesign prior to the 2015 edition, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama (twice) and Gary Woodland have emerged victorious, further epitomizing what's of value on the 7,261-yard test.
In regulation before surviving a playoff with short-hitting sharpshooter Chez Reavie last year, Woodland ranked eighth in distance of all drives, fourth in greens in regulation, 13th in proximity to the hole and second in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He led the field in par-5 scoring and putting: birdies-or-better percentage. He authored a comprehensive clinic. For his effort, Reavie paced the field in strokes gained: tee-to-green and surprised as the runner-up in par-5 scoring.
Overall, the par-71 course surrendered a scoring average of 70.324. That's the bull's-eye when the weather cooperates, but Mother Nature has other plans this week. Ideal conditions throughout the work week will give way to a reasonable threat of rain on the weekend. Winds may even kick up a bit on Saturday and a high of 60 degrees for Sunday's finale isn't guaranteed. While the layout caters to all comers and even though it drains well, soft conditions almost always benefit the longest hitters.
The five-yard reduction of the 403-yard, par-4 first hole represents the only relevant modification since last year. The TifEagle Bermuda greens will touch 12 feet on the Stimpmeter and the combination rye-fescue primary rough will reach two-and-a-half inches in some spots.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.