Designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and set in the rugged Sonoran Desert surrounded by the stunning McDowell Mountains, the world famous Stadium Course plays host once again to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, made famous by the 20,000 fans that surround the par 3 16th, where golf meets football and WWF.
Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, probably never dreamed it would become famous throughout the world. "Really it was designed as just a little bridge hole to get to the 17th and 18th," said Weiskopf. "Here is this little par 3 that doesn't seem to be much of a challenge." Morrish said the hole has become a "rallying point for the unduly enthusiastic and sobriety-challenged portion of the gallery."
Some of the professionals competing in this week’s tournament will bring gifts to try and appease the crowd that surround this hole. A tee shot that misses the green or a putt that is left short is greeted by a crescendo of boos, it’s not a hole for the faint hearted.
The 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th are what make this an exciting tournament course. The 17th is a drivable par 4, "Short par 4s are hard to do correctly," Weiskopf said. "If you are going to lay up, I want the players to have the pressure of a tough chip and putt”. So remember while watching this tournament your money isn’t safe until your player has holed out on the 18th.
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My tips to win:
Hideki Matsuyama 12/1 with Bet365 didnt challenge as I expected last week, but I am going to stick with him this week. Hideki is the defending champion here this week, but the lad from Ehime, Japan has never been outside the Top 5 in his three starts here, notching up a forth place on his first visit and followed that up with a runner-up finish before taking the title last year. Matsuyama obviously likes the course and the crowd here in Phoenix.
Its hard to ignore Justin Thomas 12/1 with BetVictor this week even after missing the cut here a year ago. After a couple of weeks rest probably to bring his adrenalin levels back down to normal Justin will be looking to make it three wins in three starts on the PGA Tour. That list of luminaries includes Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Tom Watson, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Walter Hagan.
Phil Mickelson 28/1 with SportingBet has won this event three times and also has a runner-up and several Top 10s here, Phil competed in this event as an amateur while attending Arizona State University and has a great affinity not only with the tournament but also the area and crowds. Mickelson comes into this week with three Top 25 finishes from his three starts so far this season, his driving may still be erratic but while he sits at number one in the putting, scrambling from the Fringe, scrambling from 20-30 yards and scrambling from10 yard stats, he should never be discounted especially here this week.
My each-way tips
It was good to see Keegan Bradley 66/1 with Bet365 back to playing some of his best golf at the weekend and that Top 5 finish at Torrey Pines made it six Top 25s three of which have been Top 10s from seven starts on this years wraparound season. Its been a tough couple of years for Keegan with eleven missed cuts last year but he has only been outside the Top 25 once here since he first played in the event in 2012 and in his current form he will be looking forward to this week.
Another player I am sticking with this week is Pat Perez 66/1 with BetVictor who gave us another Top 5 finish last weekend at 80/1, giving us 20/1 back bookies pay-out a quarter of the odds for a Top 5 finish. Pat has a win and three other Top 10s two of which have been Top 5s from six starts so far this season and on current form and these odds I think he is a good bet again this week.
My outside tip:
Sean OHair 150/1 with BoyleSport is on a great run of form and I was really surprised to see him this far down the betting odds after having three Top 10s from four starts his other finish was an eleventh place at the Sony Open. Another good outside bet would be Ryan Palmer 100/1 with StanJames but its not been a great start to the year for Palmer but he did finish last year with a Top 5 and has two runner-up and another Top 5 finish here.
And lastly mainly because of the odds because he is another past champion Hunter Mahan 300/1 with Bet365 who also has a Top 5 here comes into this week after finally making the cut at the sixth attempt this season although he did shoot a last round 80. Will making the cut help his current mental state? Who knows but coming back to a course that he has won on and played well my just give him that jolt of positivity he obviously needs.
As always good luck