Phoenix Open Fantasy Picks, Sleepers and Preview
The Phoenix Open represents the fourth stop for the PGA Tour in 2015, and probably the loudest. The famous par 3 16th hole will see another tremendous atmosphere this year, possibly louder than ever due to the fact that both Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are in the field this week. A repeat of Tiger’s hole in one in 1997 might see a minor earthquake and for many the Sunday play will be the perfect afternoon viewing in the build up to the Super Bowl.
As a viewer this is possibly my favorite event of the year outside of the Majors and the fact that Tiger Woods is in the field does give it some added spice. Woods will not be one of my picks this week however – I need to see some actual form and right now he is nowhere near my list, although it would be nice to see him contending on a Sunday again soon. Here are my eight picks for the week.
Jordan Spieth – This was my easiest pick of the week. I’ve been waiting for the reappearance of Spieth since he won the Hero World Challenge back in early December. He decimated that quality field by a resounding 10 shots, just a week after winning the Australian Open by six shots. This is the kind of form that I’ve only seen Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy achieve in recent years and I think this will be a massive year for Spieth – with no limit to what he can achieve. Last year he did have a poor (for him) period around the fall, but bounced back with those wins after a post Ryder Cup break. To me, Spieth’s schedule looked a little intensive last year and it looks like his team have cut it back this year (last year he had already played two events before week 4), and this can only be a good thing.
Phil Mickelson – Last week I picked Lefty and suggested it was something of a gamble, as it could be very good or very bad – this pick based upon his usually good form in the early part of the season. In fact, he was neither, with a solid T24 finish, following up a 71 with three rounds in the 60’s. A return to Phoenix can only bring great memories for the player, with three victories here in the past, the last one just two years ago. No player would be a more popular winner and I don’t see picking Phil this week as a gamble.
Matt Kuchar – Matt Kuchar is the picture of consistency and had another great week last finishing just one shot off the lead having finished third the previous week. Kuchar is the guy you want to pick if you want solid guaranteed points – he’s not going to win by 10 shots, but you know he’ll be on the first page of the leaderboard more weeks than not. He hasn’t however won since last April, so will be looking for that elusive W.
Scott Piercy – Scott Piercy is a player who knows how to go low round this course – in fact 6 of his last 8 rounds here have been 67 or better, which has seen him finish 3rd and 15th in the tournament. Piercy also has some good form going into this week with a 2nd place in the Sony Open two weeks ago and a solid showing in California last weekend (30th). This was almost as easy a pick as Jordan Spieth.
Hideki Matsuyama – Matsuyama is a player who I find hard to categorise. One moment I look at him and think he is a certain future Major winner, and other times he disappoints. He started the year by missing out on a playoff for the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii (a missed putt on the last ensured he finished 3rd) and then had a disappointing time last week, only playing three rounds at the Humana challenge. However his 4th place here last year does nudge him into my selections (just!).
Shawn Stefani (sleeper) – If you want a player in form you need look no further than Shawn Stefani. He ended 2014 with his best performance of the season by finishing 2nd at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba and the last two weeks have seen him finish 6th and 15th respectively. He did miss the cut last time he played here in 2013, but this is a different player, his world ranking now at a career high of 91.
Francesco Molinari (sleeper) – Molinari is a two time winning member of the European Ryder Cup team and has earned his PGA Tour card for this year. He played his first two events in the last two weeks and 37th and 10th place finishes look like he has made a smooth transition from the European tour. Further progress this week will see Molinari look like a great value pick.
James Hahn (sleeper) – Hahn is a player who will not gain many picks at all this week and you can probably see why. Last year he missed 14 of 29 cuts and only appeared in the top ten twice. However, his early season form has been very encouraging, finishing 26th and 20th in the last two weeks, so if you want a pick that is something of a curveball, Hahn might be your man.
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