PGA Tour back on track in Phoenix
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2010 Phoenix Open | Preview | 24 Feb 2010
With the drama of Tiger Woods’ statement and the first World Golf Championship of the season now well and truly behind it, the PGA Tour looks ahead to this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open to bring some sort of normality to proceedings.
Not that this event could ever be considered normal. The crowds that flock to this event regularly make it the most attended on the PGA Tour and this year the tournament has the advantage of not running opposite the Super Bowl, which has often been the case in recent years.
In 2006 the event set a one day record when 168,000 clocked their way through the gates on the Saturday and this year another 500,000 can be expected for the week.
The event has become one big party and has captured the imagination of the public in the Phoenix and Scottsdale regions, both golfers and non-golfers.
Kenny Perry hardly fits the mould of the party type but he has a very good record in this event not only winning it in 2009 but regularly producing good finishes.
Perry was knocked out in the opening round at last week’s Accenture but played well at Kapalua before heading to Qatar where he finished well back. Interestingly it is similar lead up form to last year when he won a playoff over Charley Hoffman.
Phil Mickelson has made a relatively slow start to 2010 but with two wins and a runner up finish in his many appearances in the event he deserves consideration. With Woods and Stricker not in the field then he is the leading world ranked player and with his 8th place finish at Pebble Beach at his last start then he could well justify that ranking.
Martin Kaymer and Ian Poulter are likely to fly the European flag well this week. Poulter arrives off his maiden PGA Tour victory last week and Kaymer won recently in Abu Dhabi before being bailed out in round two of the Accenture. There will be much interest in just how the world number five and eight perform.
J.B. Holmes has been in good form of late and as a two time winner of this event in four starts then his form-line reads very well. Holmes has been second and third at his last two starts this season which gives every indication that another good tournament in Scottsdale is at hand.
David Toms has been quiet so far in 2010 but this is a golf tournament he enjoys. Four top tens in his last seven starts in the event outline a liking for the Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish designed layout.
Another who enjoys a very good record in the event and who has played well to date in 2010 is Kevin Na. Na was beaten in the opening round of the Accenture but he played very well early in his match against Rory McIlroy before losing at the 20th. He finished 8th at Riviera however and that may be a better guide to his chances. Na has been second, third and fourth in three of his four starts at this event.
The Australian challenge is strong numerically as you would expect in an area where many of them live. Fourteen are in the field including Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby, Michael Sim, Marc Leishman, James Nitties, Aaron Baddeley, Matt Jones, Nick O’Hern, Stuart Appleby, Nathan Green, Mathew Goggin, Greg Chalmers, Cameron Percy, David Lutterus.
Nitties was a chance to win this event with two holes to play on debut last year before eventually finishing 4th. Baddeley is of course a previous winner.