It has to be one of the more popular stops on the PGA Tour! The Waste Management Phoenix Open gets underway this morning at TPC Scottsdale, and the good news is, Phil Mickelson will be able to defend his 2013 victory at the famed stadium course just North of Phoenix. The bad news is, there will be no caddie races at the 16th hole…Booo!
It was touch and go with Phil this week after he was forced to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open last Friday evening. The Arizona State grad, and three-time winner of this tournament had lower back pain after returning from Abu Dhabi where he finished in a tie for second place with Rory McIlroy.
“I had a good practice session, though I didn’t go full speed for much of it,” said Mickelson, who arrived at nearby Whisper Rock on Wednesday. “I feel fine. I expect to play and play well.”
The 43 year-old Mickelson flew to Georgia to see specialist Tom Boers following last week’s withdrawal. He is expected to compete in next week’s Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.
Mickelson will tee it up in the first two rounds in this $6.2 Million Dollar event with Bill Haas, and Ryan Moore. Ryan Moore has had a good record in Scottsdale with fourth, sixth and 14th place finishes.
Lee Westwood will be making his first start in 2014 this week, and will play along with Red-Hot, Harris English, and 2012 FedEx Cup champ, Brandt Snedeker. Snedeker has a fantastic track record at TPC Scottsdale, where he finished ninth in 2008, eighth in 2011 and second last year.
Gary Woodland, who had the 54-hole lead last week in LaJolla but faded on Sunday, will play with 2012 Masters Champ, Bubba Watson, and a blossoming, Patrick Reed. This should be a good place for the long-hitting Woodland to avenge his defeat at Torrey Pines last Sunday.
2012 Ryder Cup Star, Ian Poulter will open up the week with the 2012 US Open Champ, Webb Simpson, and the 2011 PGA Champ, Keegan Bradley. Poulter is trying to mass enough points to make the 2014 squad that will compete at Gleneagles. Simpson is back after missing last year’s event. He finished eighth in each of his past two appearances.
This is a great tournament, and one of my favorites every year. The winner at TPC Scottsdale will pick up a check for $ 1.16 Million Dollar, and 500 FedEx Cup points. Be sure to tune in on Saturday, it gets crazy, especially at the par three 16th hole.
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