Well, we’ve reached the 18th green and we’re looking over the final putt for ‘From the Tee.’ But before we stroke that last putt, let’s check out one final PGA Tour event.
After two weeks in Hawaii (Maui and Oahu) and another couple of weeks in SoCal (La Quinta and Torrey Pines), the PGA Tour sets up shop in Scottsdale, AZ, for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Not a drop of water anywhere in sight this week, well, except for ponds on the impressive TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course. But, on the bright side, the sunshine is expected to be turned up to maximum wattage even though the temperature will only hover in the mid-60s. Warning: Don’t forget the sunscreen.
The desert surroundings at TPC Scottsdale are an acquired taste. There is very little humidity so the ball travels forever. For average golfers that’s great. For the PGA Tour pros, that means they will need to spend a little more time double-checking the surroundings and yardages to trouble spots before pulling out that driver. Hitting it 350-plus yards won’t pay off if the ball lands in the desert surroundings, in the water or anywhere near one of those damn cacti that seem to pop up everywhere.
On the course, which actually looks like brilliant green strips of grass draped perfectly over the desert landscaping, players will find a variety of challenges. The most notable challenge at this event won’t come into play this year – -the 500,000 fans that used to spend four days partying like there’s no tomorrow. They stop the party just long enough to boo or cheer golfers (depending on the shot), especially on the fabled par-3 16th.
And the biggest cheer, maybe anywhere in golf, came right here in 1997 when Tiger Woods aced the hole. Needless to say, the place erupted. But now, with limited fans and safety protocols, it’s sure to be a more serene atmosphere.
At the top of our list this week is a guy with strong Scottsdale ties, Bubba Watson. He’s a former hometown boy who lived in Scottsdale for nine years before settling on Florida as a home base. His track record here is good as he finished T-40 in 2018, T-4 in 2019 and T-3 last year. Trending? We think so. Winning? We’re betting on it.
He’s had two stellar finishes in his last two outings with desert themes. He was T-7 at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in Vegas and T-4 at the ZOZO Championship in SoCal. Despite the MC last week, we’re hoping Watson’s gotten rid of any rust in his game.
We’re also going to back a guy who also happens to call this place home: Jon Rahm. He’s about as hot as they come. He was T-2 at the ZOZO Championship in California late in 2020. He then was as consistent as can be without winning. He was T-7 at the Masters. He was T-7 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He was T-7 last week at the Farmers Insurance Open. It doesn’t get much more consistent than that.
But this week, playing a home game, we’re thinking his shot-making comes together and he could find himself back in the winner’s circle. He was T-16 here in 2017, T-11 in 2018, T-10 in 2019 and T-9 last year. He’s improving his play here every year and his game recently — minus a loose shot here and a bad read on a putt there — shows he’s close to winning again.
What? The putt’s good? Thank you and we’ll see you on the ‘Tee’ again soon.
Waste Management Open: Bowman’s Top 5 Betting Picks
- Bubba Watson (40-1)
- Jon Rahm (7-1)
- Webb Simpson (14-1)
- Xander Schauffele (10-1)
- Sungjae Im (30-1)