Ranking The Field: Waste Management Phoenix Open

Rickie Fowler

After a brutally difficult week at Torrey Pines, the PGA Tour sets its sights on Arizona, as the Waste Management Phoenix Open tees off at TPC Scottsdale.

A strong field will again be teeing it up, and whoever wins will need to be good with crowds, because this one exerts undoubtedly the most energy among any they will see this year.


10. J.B. HOLMES

The two-time American Ryder Cup participant (America won both years) did not make himself any fans with the spectacle he created on the 72nd hole at Torrey Pines last week, taking over four minutes to decide to lay-up on his second shot when he needed an eagle to make a playoff.

But do not let that incident distract you from the putting clinic he put on.

A 7-stroke romp in 2006 was one of two Phoenix Open titles for the Kentuckian, and if his late slide last week does not get in his head, Holmes has a great shot of nabbing his first back-to-back top 10s since he went T6-T6 in 2016 in the same two events.

Odds: 40-1
World Rank: 75th
Field Rank: 50th
2017 (Waste Management Open) Finish: T24
Last Seven Starts: 4, MC, 67, 59, MC, 28, 60


9. MARC LEISHMAN

Leishman has had a strange tendency to alternate great starts with poor ones, and if the pattern sticks, he would not finish well here, but with six top-8 finishes in his last nine events, we’re betting that he will rediscover the remarkable consistency he has shown throughout his career.

He finished T8 at Torrey Pines last week, getting into contention through three rounds before a poor front nine on Sunday, something that happened to seemingly half the round 4 field.

Odds: 30-1
World Rank: 14th
Field Rank: 6th
2017 Finish: T24
Last Seven Starts: 8, 47, 7, 4, 38, 2, 24


8. MATT KUCHAR

While 2018 has already boasted an appearance of nearly every big-time player on the PGA Tour, one who has yet to tee up in the new year is perennial top-10 machine Matt Kuchar. That changes this week, as Kuchar is in the field at a tournament where a year ago he rode an opening-round 64 to a T9 finish.

Kuchar closed the 2017 season well, with top 10s in seven of his last 12 events, with two of those coming in majors and three of them in the FedExCup Playoffs. He should be extraordinarily motivated to make his 2018 start a productive one.

Odds: 45-1
World Rank: 19th
Field Rank: 8th
2017 Finish: T9
Last Seven Starts: 32, 9, 29, 31, 31, 10, 5


7. ALEX NOREN

A 10-time winner in Europe, before last week Noren had not had much success in PGA events, aside from taking Dustin Johnson to the brink in quarterfinals at last year’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

His profile, however, increased prodigiously in his runner-up effort at Torrey Pines where he led the field in greens in regulation and took Jason Day to six playoff holes.

If his short game looks anything like it did last week, it’s hard to not see him finishing well in Phoenix.

Odds: 33-1
World Rank: 16th
Field Rank: 7th
2017 Finish: DNP
Last Seven Starts: 2, 12, 45, 12, 31, 38, MC


6. PHIL MICKELSON

If experience is important for this tournament, the man who has played every edition since 1991 would seem like a good bet.

A collegiate legend at nearby Arizona State University, Mickelson is easily the most beloved player in a field that is hosting the year’s most fervent crowd.

He has won this tournament a co-record three times, with the most recent of those coming in a playoff in 2013. While he ended 2017 in good form, Phil has not played well in his first two starts back from an extended break, missing the cut at the CareerBuilder Challenge, and finishing T45 last week at Torrey Pines.

Odds: 45-1
World Rank: 49th
Field Rank: 20th
2017 Finish: T16
Last Seven Starts: 45, MC, 15, 3, 20, 6, 54


5. JORDAN SPIETH

A 9, T18 start to the new season isn’t especially awe-inspiring when factoring in his talent and the size of the fields in those events, but still, this is Jordan Spieth, a 24-year-old with double-digit Tour victories, including three major championships.

Coming off a season with three victories, and playing an event where he finished in the top 10 in both his attempts (T9 last year, T7 in 2015), he should be confident of another excellent result. Hopefully the offseason rust has finally been shaken off.

Odds: 9-1
World Rank: 3rd
Field Rank: 2nd
2017 Finish: T9
Last Seven Starts: 18, 9, 3, 8, 7, 7, 2


4. WEBB SIMPSON

Simpson was impressive at TPC Scottsdale, carding birdies on three of his final four holes in regulation to force a playoff with Hideki Matsuyama, which he lost on the fourth extra hole.

Most encouraging for the 2012 U.S. Open winner is that his putting is finally coming around after he was forced to adapt after the anchoring ban a few years back.

With nine top 20 finishes in his last 11 events, Simpson is in a stretch of impressive consistency.

Odds: 33-1
World Rank: 40th
Field Rank: 16th
2017 Finish: P2
Last Seven Starts: 36, 4, WD, 20, 17, 13, 9


3. RICKIE FOWLER

Nobody in the field is probably happier to have Torrey Pines in his rear view mirror than Fowler, who was just stymied by it for the fifth consecutive year (four missed cuts and a T61).

Fortunately, for the world No. 7, he has been much better at TPC Scottsdale, where he finished T4 last year, and runner-up the year prior.

Odds: 12-1
World Rank: 7th
Field Rank: 5th
2017 Finish: T4
Last Seven Starts: MC, 4, 1, 2, 26, 2, 13


2. HIDEKI MATSUYAMA

It’s hard to not like the two-time defending champion of this event, especially when the last time we saw him, he tied for the lowest score in the field on Sunday at Torrey Pines, despite having to deal with the circus that comes from drawing Tiger Woods as your playing partner.

In 2018, he has been hitting greens and is putting very well, and if that holds, he could become the first man to win a tournament three years in a row since Steve Stricker at the 2009-2011 John Deere Classic.

Odds: 9-1
World Rank: 5th
Field Rank: 4th
2017 Finish: 1
Last Seven Starts: 12, 4, 5, 5, 50, 5, 26


1. JON RAHM

Burn the tape from the weekend at Torrey Pines. Nobody paying attention thinks Rahm isn’t much, much better than that.

The Arizona State product is the highest-ranked player in the field (No. 2) and will have massive crowd support at TPC Scottsdale, a course he once posted a T5 as an amateur.

Since his T16 finish here last year, Rahm has three wins worldwide, in addition to nine other top-five finishes. He is a tee-to-green monster who may have fewer weaknesses in his game than any golf on the planet.

Odds: 10-1
World Rank: 2nd
Field Rank: 1st
2017 Finish: T16
Last Seven Starts: 29, 1, 2, 1, 36, MC, 15


NEXT 5

JUSTIN THOMAS
World No. 4
Field Rank: 3rd
Odds: 14-1
2017 Finish: 33
Last Seven: 14, 22, 11, 1, 17, 2, 47

XANDER SCHAUFFELE
World No. 25
Field Rank: 12th
Odds: 70-1
2017 Finish: DNP
Last Seven: MC, 32, 22, 2, 46, 72, 3, 1

TONY FINAU
World No. 37
Field Rank: 15th
Odds: 35-1
2017 Finish: T42
Last Seven: 6, 32, 16, 11, 26, 2, 7, 7

PATTON KIZZIRE
World No. 56
Field Rank: 25th
Odds: 66-1
2017 Finish: T57
Last Seven: 14, 22, 11, 1, 17, 2, 47

CAMERON SMITH
World No. 58
Field Rank: 27th
Odds: 80-1
2017 Finish: T42
Last Seven: 20, 18, 17, 1, 4, 3, 5, 12


Credits: Getty Images, OWGR, Bovado


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