The golf world is back on its correct orbit. By that I mean that Tiger Woods overshadows every tournament, even those he doesn’t play in. That is indeed the case for this week’s Waste Management Open outside Phoenix. Tiger isn’t in the field after a dominating win last week at Torrey Pines, his record eighth victory on the same course in a PGA Tour event – that includes the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey, his last major victory. Tiger now has 75 career wins, just seven behind Sam Snead’s career record.
The win also shifted some golf futures odds at Bovada. Woods is now the 3/2 favorite to win the PGA Tour money list ahead of world No. 1 Rory McIlroy (4/1), and Tiger’s odds to win the Masters, now only a little more than two months away, dropped to 5/1, with Rory at 11/2.
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Just don’t look for Tiger again for a few weeks (or Rory). He’s not in this week’s field, which is no surprise, and has ruled out next week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am in which he was in contention entering the final round last year. He has not played both California Swing events at Torrey and Pebble Beach since 2002. Tiger hasn’t officially said he won’t be playing the Northern Trust Open starting Valentine’s Day in L.A. at Riviera, but Woods’ caddie already said that’s the case. Thus, Tiger will next be in action at the WGC-Match Play and should play three straight weeks starting then. Tiger won’t tee it up after that until Bay Hill, which he dominates and which is his annual Masters tune-up.
I did hit on Tiger at +135 for a Top-5 finish last week as well as Brandt Snedeker (-275), who finished co-runner-up. I also hit “no” on Phil Mickelson (-450) and Dustin Johnson (-400). I said no on Bubba Watson (-400), but he withdrew with an illness before the tournament started. My pick to win was Rickie Fowler at 33/1, and he would have won had he not opened with a 77. He still finished T6 with closing rounds 65-70-68, which was better than anyone in the field. I also liked Nick Watney to contend, and he finished T5. It was easily my best tournament so far in 2013.
If you are a “partier,” I recommend you attend the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale one day. It’s easily the rowdiest gallery on the PGA Tour. The par-3 16th – known as the “Coliseum” -- is just crazy in terms of drunken fans. So much so that this tournament will be shown simultaneously on NBA and the Golf Channel this weekend (they are both owned by Comcast). Saturday and Sunday from 3-5 Eastern time, when NBC normally would take over, the Golf Channel will cover just the 15th , 16th and 17th holes while NBC airs its normal coverage. No. 15 is a huge eagle opportunity par 5, and No. 17 is a par 4 that can be reached from the tee. According to Golf Digest’s Web site, Andrew Magee made the only known hole-in-one on a par 4 in PGA Tour history here at No. 17 in 2001 (that seems hard to believe).
Kyle Stanley is the defending champion. Spencer Levin led the 2012 tournament by six shots entering the final round and was seven in front after one hole. But he shot a 75 to finish two strokes behind Stanley, who had gagged away a sure win at the Farmers Insurance Open the week before.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Waste Management Open Favorites
Jason Dufner and Fowler are the 14/1 favorites. Dufner has been playing well in the Middle East since finishing T18 in the season-opening Hyundai. He has played this event three times, with a best finish of runner-up two years ago. Fowler, as noted, was brilliant in the final three rounds at Torrey Pines. He hasn’t missed the cut in four trips to Scottsdale, with a best finish of runner-up in 2010.
Snedeker and Watson are next at16/1. Snedeker had a shot to win here in 2010 and was leading by a stroke after 54 holes. But he shot a final-round 78 to finish T43. He was a career-best T8 (for this event) the next year. Watson apparently is good to go. He still hasn’t played since a season-opening T4 in Hawaii. This will be seventh straight year Watson has played this event, with a best finish of T5 a year ago.
Watney closes out the Top 5 at 18/1. I can tell you right now that I will be picking Watney to win multiple times this year, because I am that high on him. Just not this week. He didn’t play here last year and has a best finish of T5 in seven starts.
PGA Tour Picks: Waste Management Open Predictions
Phil Mickelson (22/1) will again be the crowd favorite as he played as Arizona State and has a Phoenix-area home. Lefty hasn’t been a factor in two events this year. But Mickelson has seven Top-10 finishes in Scottsdale with wins in 2005 and 1996. He was T26 a year ago.
Bovada has yes-only props on Top-10 finishes this week. I would take “yes” on Fowler (+150), Snedeker (+150) and Charles Howell III (+275). I also like Martin Kaymer (5/2) as the top European finisher. It’s the German’s PGA Tour debut in 2013, and he has played well in Europe.
I might throw a few long-shot dollars at J.B. Holmes (66/1) to win only because he has two victories here (his only two career). But he missed the cut last week. The top value pick is Hunter Mahan to win at 33/1. He was a solid T15 last week and won in Scottsdale in 2010. He has been under par in his past eight rounds at TPC Scottsdale.
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