The field is stellar and the atmosphere will be raucous at the Phoenix Open this week as the PGA Tour’s party event meets Super Bowl weekend to make up Arizona’s sports week of the year.
The $6.3 million event will be played on the 7,266-yard, par-71 TPC Scottsdale course and will feature a field that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson, Ricky Fowler, and Jordan Spieth.
Woods is the big draw, as he makes his 2015 debut and will play the Phoenix Open for the first time since 2001. In search of his first victory since the WGC-Bridgeston in 2013, Woods is a wait-and-see selection at this point as he works through some swing changes with new coach Chris Como. It would be great theater to have Woods in the hunt down the stretch on Super Bowl Sunday but it might be a little too much to ask in his season debut.
Below are some players who are good bets to have strong performances this week and a wild card.
Phil Mickelson: The offseason commitment to fitness had positive early returns as Mickelson was tied for sixth in driving distance at the Humana which led to him being tied for the lead in birdies. An Arizona State alum, who has won here three times, including 2013, Mickelson should be in the hunt come Sunday.
Brendan Steele: Tied for second last week when he finished with a final round 64. Steele has had success in Phoenix in the past with three finishes in the top-six in the last three seasons.
Bubba Watson: Easy candidate for the player who may be most due to win here. Bubba has three top 10s in eight starts at TPC Scottsdale and lost by a shot last year.
Hunter Mahan: The winner here in 2010, Mahan tied for fourth last year and plays well at TPC Scottsdale. Jahan has been under-par in 15 of his last 16 rounds here and two of his six career wins are in Arizona.
Matt Kuchar: Kuchar has been solid and in contention week in and week out to start 2015. In his first three starts this season Kuchar has finished tied for 17th, tied for third, and tied for second.
Ryan Moore: Moore also makes the list as a player with a solid history at TPC Scottsdale. Moore was fourth here in 2013 and tied for sixth last year, just three shots back of Stadler.
Ryan Palmer: Finished tied for 10th last week at the Humana after a career-best 61 in the second round. He has a pair of top-five finishes at the Phoenix Open including a fifth-place finish in 2013.
Rickie Fowler: Fowler missed the cut here last year but has had success at TPC Scottsdale and finished second in 2010 and tied for 13th in 2011. After the missed cut last season Fowler went on to have a stellar season with 12 top-10s and top-five finishes in all four majors.
WILDCARD: It’s hard to call one of the best young players in the world a wild card but Jordan Spieth is making his 2015 debut after taking some time off so we aren’t sure what to expect. Spieth is making his debut at TPC Scottsdale and hasn’t played since dominating the field to win the Hero World Challenge.