Tiger Woods has jetted over to Dubai. Rory McIlroy is still nursing an injury. Dustin Johnson and Jason Day are taking a breather after missing the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open last week. But Jordan Spieth and Justin highlight a terrific field in one of the wildest weeks of the golf season at the Phoenix Open.
Let’s take a look at this week’s contest.
What: Phoenix Open | Where: Scottsdale, Arizona | When: Feb. 2-5
Participants and odds
- Jordan Spieth: 8-1
- Hideki Matsuyama: 10-1
- Justin Thomas: 11-1
- Jon Rahm: 18-1
- Phil Mickelson: 25-1
- Brooks Koepka: 28-1
- Bubba Watson: 28-1
- Ryan Moore: 28-1
- Patrick Reed: 30-1
- Rickie Fowler: 33-1
Field strength: B+
Considering this is the first tournament following the biggest tournament of the season thus far, this is a pretty outstanding field. When Rickie Fowler is not one of the nine biggest favorites, you’re doing something right. Also, how about last week’s winner Jon Rahm entering the top four? That’s not reactionary, either. The dude has staying power on this tour. I would not be surprised at all to see him pull a Justin Thomas this week and go back to back. He finished T5 here back in 2015 as an amateur.
Three stories to watch
1. Jordan and Justin: It’s the best friends show in Phoenix. Thomas clipped Spieth twice in Hawaii, and both of them took the last two weeks off. I’ll maintain that Spieth is going to have a monstrous year, but Thomas is apparently insistent on keeping him from doing just that. How much fun would it be to see these two paired together late on Sunday for a little pre-Super Bowl appetizer?
Also, hopefully Thomas doesn’t have to go driver off the deck late.
Did a clinic today here in PHX, and got asked to hit driver off the deck.. Golf fans, you can guess it. I chunked it 130 yards #stillgotit
— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) January 31, 2017
2. The 16th hole: I’ll catch heat for this, but the 16th hole at this tournament is overrated. It just is. Everybody acts like it’s the greatest non-Augusta hole on the planet! Is it fun? Sure. Does it go a long way in determining the tournament champion? Maybe. Is it an overwrought cauldron infused with too much alcohol and too many lunatics? Check, check and check.
3. Can Hideki Matsuyama defend? Matsuyama was given a gift last season when Rickie Fowler hit a drive in the water late in the day on Sunday, but he still has three (!) top five finishes here and is coming off a winter in which he was easily the best player in the world. It’s not difficult at all to see him facing down Rahm or Thomas on Sunday with another trophy in the balance.
“I’m not really sure whether it’s the course, but I do know that the tremendous galleries that we have here just invigorates me and gets me going,” said Matsuyama on Tuesday. “I love playing here.”
- 2016: Hideki Matsuyama
- 2015: Brooks Koepka
- 2014: Kevin Stadler
- 2013: Phil Mickelson
- 2012: Kyle Stanley
That is an eclectic list of really good golfers. Two are stars. One is a superstar. One is hunting former glory. And the last one hasn’t been seen from in quite a while.
WMPO reminder of curious tale of Kevin Stadler. Beat Bubba in ’14 playoff, didn’t defend title bc of injury & hasn’t played since ’15 Deere.
— Will Gray (@WillGrayGC) January 31, 2017
Let’s look at the picks this week.
Source: CBS Sports Headlines / Phoenix Open picks: Jordan Spieth looks to upend Justin Thomas and end his run