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    By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast


    The west coast swing on the PGA Tour rolls along, and this week I hope you’re well-rested for the party that is about to ensue in Arizona. It’s one of the unique rare birds in sports and a week of epic debauchery that only lines up on the calendar once every several years – The Waste Management Phoenix Open and Super Bowl double feature. I happened to be the last “Scottsdale Double” and needless to say it was a weekend to remember. I took in the full Saturday at TPC Scottsdale that ended with drunken mud sliding down the hill behind the 16th hole, and then watched my Patriots win an unreal Super Bowl in the final seconds the next day – thanks, Russell Wilson! It’s no secret that this week’s WM Phoenix Open has all the makings of the most raucous event on the calendar.

    Last week at Pebble, it was a much more subdued vibe where the weather dampened the vibes a bit and even cut short the celebrity aspect. What was not cut short was my heater to start off 2023. It’s now three outright winners from this column in the last five PGA Tour events and I’ve got NO PLANS to slow down soon. Let’s get to the winners:


    For as much attention and excitement as this week brings for golf fans and just fans of partying on the golf course, the track itself at TPC Scottsdale is rather pedestrian and underwhelming. It’s your classic flattened-out course with TPC pristine conditions and everything right in front of you. The finishing stretch of the volume-filled 16th, the driveable par 4 17th, and the short par 4 18th make for flurries of birdies and lots of inebriated cheering. Outside of that, this course is anyone’s game and the past list of champions has proved it, from bombers like Brooks and Phil to more finesse-driven, tactical players like Webb Simpson or Hideki Matsuyama.

    AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin

    The WM Phoenix Open field is headlined by the game’s best; you can tell it’s a concerted effort by the Tour’s gravitas to show out and present the best imaginable. The Netflix doc drops next week, so it’s all on board to make this party hum. The entries are led by eight of the top 10 ranked golfers in the world, and most notably Rory McIlroy as world number makes a return to an event he hasn’t frequented in recent years. This week has the makings to be the Super Bowl of PR for the PGA Tour.


    This event is a social outing with a side of golf, but what is not to be forgotten is how we grab our winner out of this week’s field. It takes a player that can ride with the crowd, but also dial in and give themselves an abundance of birdie looks throughout the day. I’m prefacing my weekly picks based on exactly what I value the most. With every play I make, I’m always taking into account these factors and for the Waste Management Phoenix Open, we’ll mix in a past winner but look to the stars of the game to outduel in the desert valley.

    1. Who’s hot and trending – recent high finishes, top-10 streaks, and consistent play are never a bad thing.

    2. Horses for courses – players love certain courses and course familiarity and experience are invaluable in a field of the world’s best.

    3. What the numbers tell you this week – while I’m far from analytical, there’s always a tournament darling or two scattered across the golf talk stratosphere that stuns on paper.

    4. Intangibles – while this allows for theater of the mind, there’s a mysterious optimism surrounding that feels “due” or if the price looks just right for buying.

    At Pebble Beach…OOPS, I did it again. I played with my card, and we got lost in the winnings. Justin Rose delivers an impressive Monday performance to go -18 for the week and capture his first PGA Tour title since 2019. None of us are surprised since we had him on our card last week. It’s an A- overall since the others weren’t fabulous.


    (Wanna start a Pick-X pool with your friends? Learn more here! Or, if you’re looking to start your own PGA One-and-Done pool, check those out here) (Hint: the main difference between the two is how many players you’ll pick each week)

    1: Jon Rahm – Phoenix resident, went to college here and is currently on his own heater as he inches closer to being world no. 1. How on earth is he not on your card to contend or win this week?

    2: Max Homa – He’ll play nicely into the crowd’s vibe, and with his recent form he makes for an auto top 10 pick as well.

    3: Tony Finau – Finau regularly contends here and has knocked on the door of winning here a few times, he could be due to break through for his biggest check as a pro.

    4: Tom Kim – I have a funny feeling the loveable Tour rookie will be embraced by the crowd and it propels him to a fun week in Scottsdale.

    5: Sahith Theegala – He broke through here and had a close call here, but this is a course he tracks well on and his form is there to contend

    6: Gary Woodland – My biggest reach is with the 2018 champion who has a knack for finding form at TPC Scottsdale.

    RYP One and Done Pick: Tony Finau


    Where to watch: Golf Channel and CBS all week – I’m just here for the crowd shots and the vibe on the back 9.

    Why to watch: If you can’t be there, pull up a spot on your couch and grab a drink or two or three. This event is a party and it resonates through the broadcast, and it has a history of great finishes leading up to the Super Bowl kickoff time.

    What to eat: It’s Super Bowl weekend so you should be pretty well stocked – shout out to the Thunderdogs on the 10th hole – chef’s kiss.

    Purse: $18 million

    Winner’s Share: $3.6 million


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    About Author

    Alex Lauzon

    Lauzon is a podcast host, live broadcaster, analyst and betting extraordinaire for the Course of Life brand. After earning a degree in broadcast journalism at Quinnipiac University, he worked in ESPN and ESPN radio newsrooms. He has interviewed athletes and celebrities from all walks of life who often love to play golf. When he's not playing golf or talking about the game on Course of Life, Lauzon enjoys time with his wife and dog, checking off the next island vacation destination or counting down the days to the next Dell Match Play in his hometown of Austin, Texas.

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