Last years winner Hunter Mahan
It’s an adage that may be as old as the hills but will always ring true. “Drive for show and putt for dough…”
Just ask last week’s winner Bubba Watson. He demonstrably schooled last week’s field at Torrey Pines on exactly what that means by hitting his classic sweeping hooks and slicing drives that seemingly went on for miles. I think his birdie putt on the 72nd hole epitomized what a, “putt for dough” really looks like.
I love to see guys like Bubba Watson winning on tour. He truly seems like a guy you would love to play a round of golf with. He has heart. His first name is Bubba and let’s face it, he’s really fun to watch. Great job this weekend Mr. Watson!
This week we are off to Phoenix for the greatest show on turf at TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. What can we expect this week? Well, hardcore golf fans who sound like they should be at a hockey game for one. Lots of them. I mean lots. This is the largest attended golf event in the world each year drawing total numbers exceeding 525,000 over four days. As many as 20,000 rabid ASU golf fans gather around the 16th hole known affectionately as, “The Big Party.”
Beers, cheers, booze and boos will all be present on this hole as they are every year, making it one of the most fun events to watch on TV each year. As expected the fan favorite year after year is ASU alum Phil Mickelson. People love this guy from coast to coast but Phil’s love-o-meter gets kicked up a few notches each time he shows his face at this famed event.
The course itself ranks in the lower half of difficulty on tour. This Weiskopf/Marrish creation usually translates into fairly low scores with the winner coming in at anywhere from -11 to -26. I expect with the set up and conditions this year that the winner will be right around -15. The generous fairways tend to invite long-ballers to swing away with reckless abandon. Often that risk translates into reward as many eagles are seen here each year.
Let’s review my Yahoo Fantasy picks and standings before we jump into the six-pack.
Currently I have 630 points on the year and I am exceeding all Yahoo experts however I have dropped in the standings. I am down six points in my Fans of Hunter Mahan group ranking in the 79th percentile. Overall I dropped three points into the 85th percentile. As mentioned I am trumping all Yahoo experts at this point in the young season. I am edging out Greg Vara by only ten points, Eric Planer is down by 65 points, Matt Romig is lacking by 32 points, and Mike Arkush is down by a competitive 40 points.
Here’s who I like this week in my Start ‘em / Sit ‘em section:
Ladies and gents, let’s see if we can nail down a winner this week and earn some serious coin in the process with the six-pack.
It’s broken record time again this week. He’s in the field henceforth he is in the six-pack. Again Fowler still surprises with very low odds despite a poor Sunday showing last week and a disappointing tie for 20th. I say disappointing because with a good round, he could have been in the winner’s circle on Sunday.
A significant reason for Fowler’s not so juicy odds this week directly correlates to his solo second place finish in his rookie campaign here last year. A questionable call to lay up late in Sunday’s round may have deprived him of his closest true chance to victory in his young career.
Keep in mind this is a pretty tough crowd to play in front of. His results last year prove that he is comfortable here and that goes a long way when trying to pick a winner each week.
After being a regular reader of the six-pack you know as well as I do that we would love to see more value on young Fowler. I still think 20:1 odds are pretty good value on this kid, so throw some dough on him and watch it multiply.
It looks as though one of the most exciting young players on tour is heading for a terrific rebound here in 2011. AK is trending up very nicely right now finishing 16th, third, 19th, 13th and sixth in his last five tournaments.
This is not his strongest event. He has played here twice and missed the cut twice. His two other finishes were a tie for 30th on 2008 and a tie for 24th last year. That tie for 24th really should have seen him contend for victory. He unfortunately shot himself in the foot on Saturday with a score of 76 surrounded by three other rounds in the mid sixties.
I think AK will have something to say this week and something to prove to himself after that falter last year on Saturday.
Look at some of Kim’s stats in the young year:
* 17th in Scoring Average at 69.3 strokes per round
* Eighth in Par Five Performance at 25 strokes under par (huge stat for this course)
* 11th in Total Birdies with 57 made
Anthony Kim is a good pick this week and I like his odds of 22:1 quite a bit.
Bill Haas continues to impress and is perhaps undervalued this week. I thought for sure if anyone would fall under the 20:1 mark (besides Mickelson) it would have been Haas. Guess again.
Haas is on an unreal streak of excellent performance. His last five events have seen finishes of 26th, 21st, eighth, second and ninth. Match that up with the fact that he placed ninth here in 2008 and you certainly have a contender.
Look at the statistics that have driven Haas success so far this year:
* Fifth in All Around Ranking
* Third in Ball Striking
* First in Par Five Performance at 33 under par on the year
* Ninth in Greens in Regulation at almost 79.5 percent
At 28:1, I absolutely love Bill “The Berserker” Haas this week.
Is there anyone more exciting to watch in this young season that Jhonny Vegas? I think not. This PGA Tour rookie is playing at a level of a seasoned veteran. He was right in the running for a win (again) last week until he plunked a mishit five iron short into the water on the 72 hole. That mistake saw him drop to a tie for third instead of bidding for the win.
The way Vegas carries himself on the course exudes confidence yet at this point he does not have that air of arrogance that can really turn you off, especially in a young player. This 6’3” 235 pound beast is going to absolutely tear Scottsdale apart. He will most certainly be a fan favorite this week. The way he plays combined with his super cool personality should really fuel his game with these enormous Phoenix crowds.
Look at what Vegas has accomplished so far statistically in 2011:
* First in FedEx Cup Points AND money earned
* Fourth in Par Breakers at 31.3 percent
* Seventh in Scoring Average at 68.8 percent
* 12th in Ball Striking
* Eighth in Par Five Performance at 25 strokes under par on the year
I am really excited about this guy. I am not sure if he is simply on a hot streak or if he is the real deal, but at 40:1 odds I will roll the dice and see.
One of golf’s greatest players ever is struggling to get his game back after two years of back and knee issues. I am not sure if Vijay has been able to get the practice in that he is accustomed to as of yet. What I am sure of is his record here at TPC Scottsdale. In 14 trips out to this event Vijay has only missed one cut. He has won twice and has six MORE top 20 or better finishes here.
In his last five events I love that Singh is trending up and poised for a nice pop. His last five efforts have yielded finishes of 11th, 34th, 12th,57th and 20th. I think this will be a nice bounce back year for Vijay Singh provided he stays healthy.
Did you know?
* Vijay Singh is second in career money leaders at almost $63.4 million?
Look for him to add to that total this week, and possibly add to your sports book account total with impressive 66:1 odds.
I have no real “long-shot” this week yet I have decided to go with two proven veterans that have higher odds and tested track record at TPC Scottsdale.
Although David Toms is not really known for his length off the tee he typically fares well in Scottsdale… or he misses the cut entirely. In 15 tries here, Toms has missed only four cuts. Four of his finishes have been in the top ten with his best efforts coming in 2005 and 2009 where he tied for fourth. I am pretty sure he likes this place and it’s party-like atmosphere. After all he did grow up pretty close to Bourbon St. (relatively speaking that is).
What always helps Toms year in and year out is his driving accuracy. Last year he ranked seventh and hit 71.9 percent of his fairways. He typically carries a low scoring average and always plays well on the par three’s, which may get interesting on the 16th hole.
At 66:1 I confidently will pick David Toms to wager on this week.
No matter who you pick or who you like I wish you the best of luck this week. Hit ‘em straight. - BLJ