Well, it appears I am getting closer to nailing a winner on the PGA Tour this year. After a slow start, my guys are at least starting to show up on the leaderboard. Last week at Torrey Pines my top value pick was Camilo Villegas, and he was among the leaders after a first-round 65. Unfortunately, he didn’t break 70 again and finished 22nd.
I did at least mention Brandt Snedeker as he had a good history in the Farmers Insurance Open and Snedeker did win – thanks in large part to an epic collapse by relative unknown Kyle Stanley. Unbelievably, Snedeker began his final round seven shots out of the lead and was still three back when his round was finished.
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Stanley, who had tied Tiger Woods’ 54-hole scoring record and led by five entering Sunday, seemed a lock for his first win as he was still up three and hitting his third shot on the par-5 18th just 77 yards from the green – albeit from the sand. His approach looked great but had too much backspin and went into the water Tin Cup-style. Then he three-putted from 45 feet on the way to a snowman, leading to a playoff he would lose to Snedeker.
You aren’t supposed to root in the “clubhouse,” but I hope Stanley wins this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale (he tees off early Thursday local time). It was one of the most epic collapses in golf history last week and reduced the 24-year-old to tears. He received a huge outpouring of support afterward, which was good to see. Clearly Stanley has the talent to be a terrific player -- let’s hope this collapse doesn’t derail his career as that has been known to happen.
It’s a strong field this week at the tournament that is annually played on Super Bowl weekend and is usually the rowdiest of the season in terms of the gallery – it’s one big party, essentially. No, Tiger isn’t here after he somewhat blew a potential win last week on the Euro Tour. But 15 of the world’s Top 50 are expected to tee it up, led by No. 6 Webb Simpson and No. 9 Dustin Johnson. Phil Mickelson also is playing again this week on a course that is essentially in his backyard. Snedeker also is in the field as he looks to go back-to-back.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Waste Management Phoenix Open
Simpson opened as the +900 favorite on WagerWeb. Last year’s money title runner-up hasn’t played since the Tour left Hawaii, finishing T3 in the season opener and then T38 at the Sony Open. Simpson has played this event the past three years with a top finish of T8 last year.
Scotland’s Martin Laird is the top European in the field and is No. 2 at +950. He has opened his year strong with a T2 in the season-opening Hyundai and a T14 at Humana. Seven of his eight rounds have been in the 60s so far. He was T3 here last year.
Snedeker and Matt Kuchar are next at +1100. If you are a dedicated reader of the weekly golf preview, you know I will probably never pick a guy to win the week after he just did so. Snedeker is rolling, though, having preceded last week’s win with a T8 at the Humana. And he does have two Top-10 finishes in five starts here. Kuchar, Mr. Consistency, has played just once so far this season, a T22 at the Humana. His record is spotty here with just one Top 10 in five starts; he didn’t play last year.
Mickelson closes out the Top 5 favorites at +1500. Lefty owns this course for the most part. This will be his 22nd start. He has nine Top 10s, including two victories (1996, 2005). However, Lefty hasn’t come close to winning since finishing runner-up in 2008 and missed the cut last week. His swing looks off.
PGA Tour Predictions: Waste Management Phoenix Open Picks
Defending Champion Mark Wilson has surprisingly long odds at +2600. Last year, Wilson rolled in an eight-foot birdie putt at the second playoff hole to defeat Jason Dufner on Monday morning. It was a memorable tournament for Wilson as the Wisconsin native was seen wearing a cheesehead to cheer on his beloved Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl – of course, that also worked out well for Wilson. The weather was very unseasonably cold last year. Wilson already has a win under his belt in 2012, taking the Humana.
Could Rickie Fowler (+1800) get his first career win this week? He played well last week with a T13 and has finished T13 and runner-up the past two years in Scottsdale.
Vijay Singh is definitely worth a look at +4200. The 48-year-old finished a solid T13 last week at Torrey Pines and is a two-time winner here (1995, 2003). And Singh was T3 a year ago.
I actually think Fowler does get his first win. But I believe the best “value” pick is Y.E. Yang at +4200. He missed the cut last week in his first start in the USA this year but finished T8 here last year and third the season before.