In the what was the most imposing performance of the young 2013 season, Phil Mickelson took home his 41st career victory and third Waste Management Phoenix Open trophy, shooting 28 under par for a four shot victory. From the very first tee on Thursday, it was Phil’s week. His first round 60 was just centimeters away from the magic number of 59, and the 42 year old Hall-of-Famer made just one bogey and one double bogey all week, the lowest amount of his storied career. As the talk turns to Tiger and Rory as the future of the game, Phil made a big statement this week that he’s not quite done yet. With a new driver in the bag and a more consistent, confident putting stroke, Lefty looks primed for Augusta National and the year’s first Major. Finishing in second place for the second straight week was Brandt Snedeker, who has now become one of the most consistent players on Tour, and finds himself at a career-high ranked sixth in the world. It was a clean sweep of the top five for the league this week, with Scott Piercy, Ryan Moore and Ryan Palmer finishing third through fifth respectively. Let’s take a look at how week four of the 2013 SSF season panned out.
Bringing up the rear this week was Brent, who must be getting frustrated, as his top six players have combined for just four starts this season. You’re certainly not going to win any tournaments with Kyle Stanley as your main man, and Brent will no doubt be looking forward to the Northern Trust Open, when Luke Donald will be making his season debut. As for this week, his bottom four did their best to man the fort, as Troy Matteson, Cameron Tringale and Charles Howell III combined for 20 points. After an come-from-behind top ten last week, Rickie Fowler disappointed this week, missing the cut on the number. Last year’s Waste Management champion Kyle Stanley made the cut, but played the weekend four over par to finish alone in 74th. Brent slid down the leaderboard a couple of spots, but still finds himself just 110 behind first. Much like Phil Simms, Brent does some of his best work in the dark, but he needs to keep pace with the leaders or he’ll find himself in the same situation as last year.
Coming in with thirty points this week was Dave, who failed to get his roster in for the third consecutive week, and wound up with Bubba Watson riding the bench. However, first round pick Robert Garrigus continued to impress, posting a top 15 to give him 55 points in his three starts. Second round pick Bud Cauley also stood out this week, cracking the top 25. D.A. Points and David Toms both missed the cut this week and have yet to score a point this season. With so many good free agents still available, look for Dave to cut one or both of them loose in the near future. Rory Sabbatini redeemed himself after carding goose eggs in his first two starts by cracking the top 50 in Phoenix, and he’s a past champion of the Honda Classic, played in week eight.
Also carding 30 points this week, Lawrence used the first Mulligan of the season, putting in Keegan Bradley for Nicolas Colsaerts. Although the move didn’t end up like he thought it would, Bradley managed to stay in the top 25 and bring in a respectable 10 points. Gary Woodland also cracked the top 25, and will need to do so often to erase the memories of his pathetic 2012 campaign. Much more was expected of Nick Watney and Carl Pettersson this week, as Lawrence was fielding one of the strongest lineups and had a serious chance to move up the leaderboard, however they combined for just 10 points. Harris English couldn’t make the top 50 for the third straight week, after starting off the season with a top ten.
Although he scored a respectable 35 points, Bryce still surrendered his lead to Fuchs this week. A lot of people questioned Bryce when he chose to keep Bill Haas over British Open champion Ernie Els, but it has paid off so far, with Haas earning his second straight top ten this week. After a top ten from the bench last week, Bryce gave K.J. Choi a shot this week, only to leave a Matt Every top ten riding the pine. It wasn’t all bad, with Choi managing to still card five points along with Bryce’s favorite(?) player, Tim Clark. The international roster was rounded out by Fredrik Jacobson and Martin Laird, who both ended up with goose eggs. Dustin Johnson owns Pebble Beach, and with that being the Tour’s next stop, Bryce could very well find himself in first again come next Monday.
He may not have watched any of the tournament this week, but that doesn’t mean Beast wasn’t ecstatic to hear about Ryan Palmer’s top five finish. After barely making the cut, Palmer went low on the weekend, including a 62 on Sunday that moved him from outside the top 25 into fifth place. After an excellent 2012, Bo Van Pelt has gotten off to a slow start in 2013. Hopefully his T16 finish is just what the doctor ordered and gets him back on track and back in the top ten. After posting top tens last week, both of Beast’s Aussies found themselves outside the top fifty, with Russell Henley joining them thanks to a Saturday 74. Much like the great Beast teams of lore and legend, the 2013 team looks to be built around top tens, and that’s just what he’s done so far. If he can add in a few more wins than last year, look for Beast to contend for a podium spot.
It takes a lot to intimidate Bryce, but a charging Fuchs and a red hot Brandt Snedeker would do that to just about anyone. One of the best putters in the world, Snedeker can drain it from anywhere, making him dangerous on just about any course. This week was no different as he poured in the putts en route to his second runner up finish of the year. Ryan Moore has shown his potential throughout the years, but just has not had that breakout season. His solo fourth this week is certainly not a breakout, but definitely a good sign after a bagel in the first week. Hunter Mahan hasn’t been as ‘lights out’ to start the season as in the past, but still cracked the top 25 this week. Jonas Blixt missed the cut this week, while Jimmy Walker made it, but couldn’t crack the top 50. Fuchs always seems to get off to a hot start, but this may just be the year he keeps it up all season long.
Working alongside Phil Mickelson to win three consecutive Spreadsheet Fantasy Championships has been one of James’ greatest joys. And although all good things must come to an end, it looks like that end may not be for a little while. Phil-the-Thrill looked almost youthful this week, and played with a confidence not seen from him in years. Scott Piercy showed the same type of confidence on Sunday, going into double digits under par to give himself a solo third place finish. After lighting up the European Tour for the first few weeks of 2013, Jason Dufner and Martin Kaymer’s U.S. debuts were highly anticipated. Unfortunately both stars missed the cut this week, joining John Huh in carding goose eggs. Although a fourth straight title is certainly unlikely, James’ team has looked good through the first four weeks of the season, and when it comes to the great game of golf, you never know what might happen.