Welcome to GOLFstats.com! You are currently viewing a special post on GOLFstats.com .
For the best experience and full access to GOLFstats.com, CLICK HERE to sign up for a $15 one month GOLFstats Ultimate account!

BlogWho will win in Phoenix on Sunday

Waste Management Phoenix Open

January 29 – February 1, 2015

TPC of Scottsdale

Scottsdale, Ariz.

Par: 71 / Yardage:

Purse: $6.3 million

with $1,134,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Kevin Stadler

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

Who will win on Sunday?

So 24 hours after the world of golf is getting over the fact that Tiger Woods may be regressing as he now finds himself scrambling to make cuts instead of winning, we see a big part of the growth of many on the PGA Tour in the Tiger era.  There are probably 75 regular players on the PGA Tour that can win any week of the year.  There is this elite class of a couple dozen players who seem to get a victory once every couple of years, but do it in a fashion that makes them look like a superstar.  Martin Laird is one of them, and it’s no surprise that he is three ahead going into the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Unfortunately for those who try to pick winners on the PGA Tour, Laird isn’t our friend.  That’s because he seems to never leave a calling card on when he is ready to win.  Since joining the PGA Tour in 2008 it seems that he wins every other year, first in 2009 in Las Vegas our of the blue, then in 2011 at the Arnold Palmer and then in 2013 at the Texas Open.  So it only makes sense that he would win again in 2015, oh for those really looking at this streak it started with his win in the Web.Com Tour’s Athens Classic, in 2007.

Laird does very well on the PGA Tour with earnings just under $12 million.  In his 8th year, there was no indication of him knocking on the door for another victory other than finishing T15th last week at the Humana Challenge.  Laird is a transplanted Scotsman who learned the game in Glasgow playing left-handed, then played junior golf at Kirkintilloch Golf Club switching over to the right hand side.  In 2000 at the age of 17 he got a lucky break with the help of the College Prospects of America in getting Laird a scholarship to play for Colorado State.  He moved, lock, stock and with his Scottish kilts to the United States.  Since then it’s been golf in America, after four years he graduated with a degree in marketing.  He turned pro after graduation in 2004, and in his second professional tournament won the 2004 Denver Open.  With that he got to play off and on the Web.Com Tour and with a great 2007 placed 13th on the money list that got him onto the PGA Tour.  Laird is one of the longest hitters on the PGA Tour finishing in the top-20 each year.  But his true value is his consistency in always making the cut and finding a way into the top-25.  Since joining the tour in 2008 he has played in 171 events and has finished in the top-25, 45 times so one in four.

Now we told you he is a Scot who now makes his home in America, but making things even more interesting he makes his home in Phoenix, playing most of his golf just down the road at Estancia and frequently practices at TPC Scottsdale.  So he knows the grounds,  Laird has played in every Phoenix Open since 2008 and except for 2011 when he finished T3rd, has always struggled.

This week Laird has played very consistent golf with rounds of 66-66-68.  The key to his game is in putting, took 24 putts in the first round, 26 on Friday and only 22 on Saturday.  He made putts from all over the place on Saturday, 47 feet on 11 for birdie, 25 footer on 5 to save bogey, 15 feet for birdie at 9 and 13 feet to save par on 12.  On top of those gems, he made five putts from 5 to 9 feet including a 9 footer on 16 for par and another 9 footer at 18 for par.  In looking at Sunday one may wonder if a man like Laird who has regularly finished in the bottom third in putting can keep it up for one final round.  Guys like Laird putting well for three rounds make me think at Lee Trevino’s famous line, “There are two things that won’t last long in this world, dogs chasing cars and pros putting for pars.”  So it’s anyone’s choice on Sunday.

But the big question, can Laird keep it together on Sunday?  As I said before, Laird is a pretty steady player but he may be out of his element.  Three shot lead and doing everything with the putter, if those putts don’t drop on Sunday and he has to rely on the good putting; a three shot lead may not be enough.  In looking historically at the Phoenix Open to see where winners come from it’s interesting to note that only about half of the third round leaders go on to win and that every champion at TPC Scottsdale going back to 1987 has shot in the 60s the final round except for Lee Sanzen in 1993.  So it seems that Laird will probably need a 69 on Sunday to wrap it up.

All that has been written in this story is about Martin Laird, is there anybody near him?  Laird has a three shot lead over Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Zach Johnson.  For back at nine under is Ryan Palmer, Justin Thomas and amateur Jon Rahm.  Five back at 8 under is nine guys led by Bubba Watson and Angel Cabrera. Now if Laird does shot 69 that should eliminate those at 9 and 8 under.  But if Laird has a bad front nine, it’s a wide open ball game.

So what about those at 10 under?  All of them played great on Saturday to get into this position.  Hideki Matsuyama shot the week’s low round of 63, including making birdie on five of his last six holes.  With Matsuyama’s PGA Tour win at the 2014 Memorial Tournament, he entered the final round two strokes behind 54-hole leader Bubba Watson before shooting a final round 69 and prevailing in a playoff over Kevin Na.  But I am always leery of guys that shot low in the third round.  Brooks Koepka also went low in round three with a 64 that included a back nine 30.  Koepka has had to work hard to get onto the PGA Tour and he did so last summer getting a special temporary membership.  He parlayed that into a top-125 finish which got him his tour card for this year.  Koepka worked very hard in 2014, so hard that he found himself burnt out and after playing the Nedbank Challenge on the European Tour in the first week of December, put the clubs away for a full month before starting to play again last week.  So in a way, he is fresh and ready to go.  Lastly, we can’t forget about Zach Johnson who shot 67 in the third round.  Since winning at Kapalua at the start of 2014, he has been inconsistent.  Yes he was the runner-up at the John Deere and T3rd last year at the Humana, but he just hasn’t been the same since the John Deere.  But he is a person who should be watched on Sunday because he is overdue.

Anybody else?  Again it’s all up to Laird, if he plays bad it’s a new ball game and anyone can win.  I think that Bubba Watson at five back is in it, gosh Ryan Palmer played badly on Sunday last week, maybe he will play great and win.  Also don’t forget about guys like Russell Knox and Russell Henley.  The bottom line, anyone can find themselves backing into a victory.

Below is a list of the top-22 players on the leader board going to 6 under which is 6 shots back of Martin Laird:

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Of the top-22 on the leaderboard, who is playing the best: for the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Player Humana Challenge Sony Open Hyundai T of C Nedbank Challenge Mayakoba Classic WGC-HSBC Sanderson Farms CIMB Classic McGladrey Classic Shriners Hospitals Frys.com Open
Robert Streb
(167.67 pts)
DNP T17
(33)
T8
(50)
DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP 8
(16.67)
DNP Win
(44)
T10
(13.33)
T31
(6.33)
Russell Henley
(154.67 pts)
DNP T17
(33)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP T35
(5)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(146 pts)
DNP T78
(0)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP T41
(3)
DNP T21
(9.67)
DNP T10
(13.33)
T3
(30)
Justin Thomas
(144 pts)
T7
(55)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP 71
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Rory Sabbatini
(108.67 pts)
T24
(26)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
T22
(9.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Bubba Watson
(84 pts)
DNP DNP 10
(40)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Palmer
(82.33 pts)
T10
(40)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Moore
(73 pts)
WD
(-5)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Martin Laird
(72.33 pts)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP 72
(0)
T18
(10.67)
T3
(30)
Russell Knox
(63 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP T37
(4.33)
DNP T35
(5)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
3
(30)
T68
(0)
James Hahn
(55 pts)
T20
(30)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T56
(0)
T17
(11)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Brooks Koepka
(53.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T8
(16.67)
Francesco Molinari
(53 pts)
T10
(40)
T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Pat Perez
(52 pts)
T30
(20)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP T69
(0)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Zach Johnson
(41.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T64
(0)
7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Of the top-22 on the leaderboard, who isn’t playing well: for the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Player Humana Challenge Sony Open Hyundai T of C Nedbank Challenge Mayakoba Classic WGC-HSBC Sanderson Farms CIMB Classic McGladrey Classic Shriners Hospitals Frys.com Open
Brian Stuard
(-17.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T71
(0)
DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Jon Rahm
(-3.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Angel Cabrera
(7.67 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T29
(21)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Graham Delaet
(10.33 pts)
T30
(20)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
Geoff Ogilvy
(13 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
T27
(23)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Chappell
(25.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
T8
(16.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Daniel Berger
(29.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP T51
(0)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP T22
(9.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

In conclusion:

Very easy it’s in the hands of Martin Laird, but he will have to shot 69 to win.  If he falls off that pace on the front nine, it’s anyone’s game.  I like Laird to win, but if he falls Zach Johnson could be the guy along with Ryan Palmer.  Now you can’t count out Bubba Watson, he was in control and lost that on the back nine last year, who knows Watson could go out and shot 64 and find himself in contention with a shot to win.  Hideki Matsuyama proved it on Saturday by shooting 63 that there is a low score out there.

Who to watch for at the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Best Bets:

Martin Laird

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
leads by 3 T19 CUT T61 T3 CUT CUT

He is in the drivers seat with a three shot lead. Putting great and doing everything that needs to be done. But over the long run Laird is not that great of a putter so their is a bit of a question mark on him Sunday. Still he has brought home three victories on the PGA Tour and I don’t see any reason why he won’t shot 69 to win.

Best of the rest:

Zach Johnson

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T2 (3 SB) T24 T12 WD CUT T24

He hasn’t been firing on all twelve cylinders in the last year so he is overdue. He is great in positions like this and should put some heat on Laird.

Ryan Palmer

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 (4 SB) T48 5 T55 CUT T14 T60 T2 CUT

He will be looking to prove himself after what happened last week at Humana. I can see him shooting 64, he did it in the first round and can do it again.

Hideki Matsuyama

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T2 (3 SB) T4

If he continues his good play on Sunday will be hard to beat. I can see him shot 68 which will put some pressure on Laird.

Brooks Koepka

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T2 (3 SB)

A very hunger man, he took a month off not touching the clubs to be fresh and ready to go in 2015 and showing it in his first event back. Still he will have to post a score of 66 or 67 to have a chance.

Solid contenders

Bubba Watson

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T8 (5 SB) T2 15 T5 T29 T36 T25 CUT T8

I can see him going low, likes the course, has played well on it and would like the opposite of what happened to him last year to happen on Sunday.

Russell Henley

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T8 (5 SB) CUT T67

He is a type of guy that backs into tournaments, just like his win at the Honda last year, he is in the same position just waiting for Laird to falter.

Russell Knox

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T8 (5 SB)  Playing for the first time in this event

He will play hard and knows he has some catching up to do

Ryan Moore

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T8 (5 SB) T6 4 78 T73 T14 T6 CUT CUT T40

Needs a very low number on Sunday.

Long shots that could come through:

Justin Thomas

2015 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03
T5 (4 SB)   Playing for the first time in this event

If he could shot a 64 it would be a perfect way for him to win for the first time on the PGA Tour.

Speak Your Mind