It’s still “The People’s Open,” just with fewer peoples.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the most-attended golf tournament in the world, but this week’s gathering will not exceed 5,000 per day. And that’s OK. In this unprecedented moment of the modern era, adjustments in all walks of life are necessary. The pandemic has revealed where we are on the spectrum of situation awareness. It’s a reflection of our coexistence. What’s good for you is good for all, and vice versa. Therefore, a more subdued WMPO still is a WMPO worth staging.
A traditional field of 132 has assembled on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale north of Phoenix. The course has not changed since Webb Simpson emerged with victory in a playoff a year ago. Scroll past the projected contenders for a word about the man synonymous with the course, how it tests, what Simpson did to come away with the trophy (spoiler: everything) and more.
POWER RANKINGS: WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN
Former champions Rickie Fowler (2019) and Brooks Koepka (2015) will be reviewed in Tuesday’s Fantasy Insider with Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Matt Kuchar, Matthew Wolff and other notables.
The 16-time PGA TOUR winner renovated the North Course at Torrey Pines, co-host of last week’s Farmers Insurance Open, but in 2014, he returned to modernize the PGA TOUR’s annual stop in the Valley of the Sun. At the time, he said that the winning aggregate would land somewhere around 14- to 18-under par. As a professional golfer, Weiskopf’s accuracy off the tee was shadowed by his length, but it’s not surprising that he’s split all of the fairways on the prediction.
For the sixth time in as many editions since Weiskopf signed off on the par 71 stretching 7,261 yards, Simpson was the latest to hit the target. He completed regulation in 17-under 267 before prevailing with a birdie on the first hole in sudden death. (Playoff victim, Tony Finau, is not in this week’s field. Instead, he’s competing in the European Tour’s Saudi International powered by SoftBank Investment Advisers.)
Desert golf can imply that danger lurks not far off either side of the fairways. This is true to an extreme degree, but not when the sample size consists of the best players on the planet. Finding the shortest grass off the tee always is helpful, but TPC Scottsdale requires the full bag to contend. In the most logical sense of how golf is understand, there is a direct correlation between scoring and progressively better skill sets nearer holes.
Simpson finished inside the top 10 in fairways hit, greens in regulation, proximity to the hole and Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green. He also led the field in par-4 scoring. He was outside the top 10 in putting: birdies-or-better, Strokes Gained: Putting and scrambling, but only barely. Indeed, it was the sum of all parts contributing to him easily leading the field in the all-around ranking.
TifEagle bermuda greens average about 7,000 square feet and are groomed to reach 12 feet on the Stimpmeter. That likely will the case, but the Phoenix area has been hit with considerable rain (and some snow, even in Scottsdale), so the course with its two-and-a-quarter-inch rough promises to be lush. Four Peaks is the most recognizable mountain range just east of the area. Ranging above 7,500 feet, the summits likely still will be snowcapped for your high-definition viewing. It’s not an annual occurrence.
This week’s forecast includes a small chance of rain but a delay in the action is not anticipated. Getting to the 36-hole cut by sundown on Friday is a race every year regardless. Daytime temperatures will rise comfortably to about 70 degrees. Wind will not be a factor.
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: Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.
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