by Jeff Skinner
The official name of this week’s PGA Tour stop is The Waste Management Phoenix Open but we’ll just call it Scottsdale. For a week The TPC Scottsdale course is turned into the biggest Pre Super Bowl party around. The stadium style 16th hole becomes the most raucous of sports bars and while the fans will cheer and boo the players the real action is happening in the stands. They are a rambunctious group of passionate golf fans but most of them are just there for the party. The 16th is as wild a scene as there is all year on tour and the fans are rarely disappointed.
The powers that be at The Tour have come up with a few very intriguing pairings this week. It’s refreshing to see that these “computer pairings” can give us such interesting groups for the first two rounds.
7:58 am… Boo Weekly, David Duval, Rickie Fowler. David Duval is on the right track this season. He is getting his game back to where he will be contending for his first win since his 2001 Open Championship. Boo Weekly will get the 16th revved up like few golfers will. Rickie Fowler is a putt or two away from earning his first win. He lost to Hunter Mahan by one stroke here last year so he’ll be confident about his chances. As always, he’s a fan favorite here.
8:07 am…Bubba Watson, Bill Haas, Phil Mickelson. We have here the three biggest players in last week’s thriller on the cliffs of Torrey Pines. This pairing is just plain great. Bill Haas will be looking to keep his string of three straight top tens going but surely hoping for a win. Haas has quietly become one of the best under thirty players on tour. Bubba and Phil stole the show last Sunday as Bubba could barely hold back his tears on the eighteenth. Phil has two wins here and wants a win before Augusta and this could be the place.
8:16am…Jhonattan Vega, Camillo Villegas, Angel Cabrera. The South American Connection, sounds like an action movie I know, but has South American Golf ever been this strong. Johnny Vegas has taken the PGA Tour by storm and isn’t going away. He is living up to the most exciting name in golf. Camillo will have a large group following him as he always does but could Johnny Vegas have replaced him as the most popular South American? Cabrera is looking for his 2009 form when he won The Masters.
12:17pm… Dustin Johnson, Hunter Mahan, Geoff Ogilvy. Dustin Johnson can win anywhere and his long game will suit him quite well here. He came on strong on Sunday at Torrey Pines for a third place finish. Hunter Mahan can be excused for fading in the last round of The Farmers Insurance Open. He was coming back from his honeymoon but he’ll be fired up in Scottsdale as he looks to defend his 2010 title. Geoff Ogilvy is making his first start since he had to withdraw from The Tournament of Champions due to stitches in his finger he got while swimming in Hawaii.
Some young guns to watch out for: Anthony Kim is 100% healthy, in great shape and playing good golf. Nick Watney will be trying to carry over his momentum from his closing 63 at Torrey Pines. J.B. Holmes has two wins on The PGA Tour, both of them here. How can he not be confident when he tees it up here?