It’s usually rougher than a Donald Trump rally at the Phoenix Open where the galleries turn up in their tens of thousands – and don’t hold back.
American Rickie Fowler was two up with two to play last year before his Arsenal tendencies got the better of him allowing Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama to come through on the rails, for a play-off win.
Matsuyama has been burning it up again this season while most of the Tour took an extended winter break. However, the decibel level is about to ratchet up a few notches and here are 7 players you’re backing with Paddy Power at noon on Wednesday, that could give a few of you something to cheer about.
Not a name that springs to mind in the raucous atmosphere of TPC Scottsdale, but Bradley has made a promising start to the new season. Finished T25 with three rounds in the 60s at the CareerBuilder Challenge before taking a step forward last weekend at the Farmers Insurance Open when T4 to John Rahm.
Again, three rounds in the 60s was slightly marred by a moving-day 74. If he can erase those scores in the 70s at the business end of this tournament, he can build on his five-year record of 15-24-MC-17-24 in Arizona.
It was a long time between drinks for the Californian who eventually took home the over-sized cheque at the Safeway Open last October after a rookie year win in the Valero Texas Open in 2011.
Steele has started the year well with two T6’s at the SBS Tournament & CarerBuilder Challenge before tapering off a little at the re-vamped Torrey Pines.
A player who definitely can contend with the rowdy galleries, his three Top 10 finishes in his last six visits to this track could make him a player come Sunday.
— Brendan Steele (@Brendan_Steele) January 3, 2017
The 22-year-old’s Spaniard’s Farmers Open win last weekend won’t be his last as Rahm eagled two of the last six holes, to finally get his head in front.
The win offers up a world of Majors, Players Championship & Fed Ex Cups and if he can channel the adrenaline rush of becoming an instant millionaire with his first Tour win, Rahm has a fifth-placed finish here to Brooks Koepka in 2015 when he was a 500-1 poke to call on.
You’ve as much chance of a soft-landing for Brexit as seeing those prices again about Rahm ever again and Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn should already be working out how he gets him to meet the qualifying criteria this side of the pond, for the Paris rematch in 2018.
If it’s a course specialist you want, it’s a course specialist you’ve got, with the five-time Tour winner.
A John Deere Classic win last August and a strong finish to the season, swayed a final Captain’s Pick decision in his favour. Moore rewarded his captain Davis Love by winning two points in three matches and his singles win over Lee Westwood to ensure the trophy stayed in the US of A.
The 34-year-old has three top 10 finishes in his 11 visits to Phoenix and finished T3 earlier this month at the SBS Tournament of Champions to Justin Thomas. He’s usually as steady as a surgeon’s hand tee-to-green which is a big help here.
A very tidy start for one of the biggest hitters on Tour as Finau has gone T9-T20-T4 since the year turned to show he means business in 2017.
Two starts in Phoenix has seen him finish 22nd before a MC last year leaves him with a little to prove this time. Driving distance off the tee won’t be an issue and despite there being just three par 5s, his power will be an asset.
How he handles the screaming masses at the infamous par 3 16th down the stretch is another story though.
Sixth on debut at Scottsdale last year, Lowry came out of hibernation last week with a T33 at Torrey Pines. He was never really in contention with three rounds in the 70s, but a closing day 68 will have shaken the rust from his game.
It wasn’t enough to keep him from slipping out of the World’s Top 50 so the sooner he starts climbing the Sunday leaderboard again, the better.