Secret In The Dirt
Designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and set in the rugged Sonoran Desert surrounded by the stunning McDowell Mountains, the world famous Stadium Course plays host once again to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, made famous by the 20,000 fans that surround the par 3 16th, where golf meets football and WWF.
Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, probably never dreamed it would become famous throughout the world. "Really it was designed as just a little bridge hole to get to the 17th and 18th," said Weiskopf. "Here is this little par 3 that doesn't seem to be much of a challenge." Morrish said the hole has become a "rallying point for the unduly enthusiastic and sobriety-challenged portion of the gallery."
Some of the professionals competing in this week’s tournament will bring gifts to try and appease the crowd that surround this hole. A tee shot that misses the green or a putt that is left short is greeted by a crescendo of boos, it’s not a hole for the faint hearted.
The 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th are what make this an exciting tournament course. The 17th is a drivable par 4, "Short par 4s are hard to do correctly," Weiskopf said. "If you are going to lay up, I want the players to have the pressure of a tough chip and putt”. So remember while watching this tournament your money isn’t safe until your player has holed out on the 18th.
My tips to win:
Bubba Watson 16/1 – with BetVictor – had a runners-up finish here last year, it was his second Top 5 finish in three years in this event. Bubba has played four events on the PGA Tour since October and has not been outside the Top 11, he has a WGC win and a runners-up in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf and although three of those events were limited fields you still have to play well and I think we will see Bubba once again challenging this week.
Out of the six tournaments Patrick Reed 28/1 – with StanJames – has played since November last year he has only been outside the Top 25 once and has a win and two other Top 10 finishes to his name. He currently sits in sixth place on the FedEx Cup rankings. Patrick started well last week opening with a 65 at the Humana Challenge but a second round 70 and a final round 71 saw him slip down the leaderboard fifteen places. Reed did have a Top 20 finish here last season and I expect him to be in the thick of it again come Sunday.
It's hard to discount the three times winner of this event Phil Mickelson 28/1 – with Coral – who also has a runners-up finish here. Phil had his first outing of the season at last week's Humana Challenge knocking the rust off to finish inside the Top 25 firing a second round 66 along the way, and with two other rounds in the 60s I think we will not only see Mickelson enjoying one of his favourite tournaments on the PGA schedule but challenging to add to that tally of wins as well.
My each-way tips:
I am going to stick with Ryan Palmer 33/1 – with BetVictor – this week, he had a Top 10 finish at last week's Humana Challenge firing a second round 61 and it was looking like he could have gone a lot lower as there were two bogies and five pars on the card. Ryan has a good record in this event with two Top 5 finishes in the last three years including a runners-up in 2012 when he opened up with a 64.
I was stuck between Scott Piercy 50/1 – with StanJames – and Hunter Mahan 40/1 – with BetVictor – for my second each-way tip. Hunter is also a past champion here back in 2010 and he had a Top 5 finish here last year which included rounds of 65 & 66 along the way. Hunter had a few injury problems last year but managed to scrape through to win at The Barclays. The reason I was looking at Scott Piercy is because he seems to really enjoy playing in this event and has three Top 5 finishes in this event over the last six years and a Top 15 finish last year. He comes into this week on the back of a runners-up in the Sony Open and a solid couple of rounds at last week's Humana Challenge.
My outside tip:
I must admit I was surprised to see JB Holmes 110/1 – with Ladbrokes – this far down the betting odds being someone who has won this event twice. JB has been through a lot in the last couple of years with his surgery but a win at last seasons Wells Fargo and eight other Top 25 finishes says to me he is starting to make his way back to the top, and although he missed the Cut at the Sony Open the 66 he finished with will see him come into this week in confident mood.
As always good luck