By Alex Myers
Any discussion of this week's Waste Management Phoenix Open begins with Phil Mickelson. The local favorite, thanks to his Arizona State ties, is the defending champion, but he also returns with a bad back that caused him to withdraw after the second round at last week's Farmers Insurance Open. Mickelson has seen a back specialist and he's going to try to play, but can you trust him enough to put him in your fantasy lineup? Especially knowing that an early Sunday tee time -- or no tee time at all -- gives him more time to relax on his couch with a big plate of nachos and watch Super Bowl pre-game shows? Didn't think so. Here's who we'll go with instead.
Starters -- (A-List): Brandt Snedeker. Yes, we picked him last week, and yes, he missed the cut. But Snedeker can't have two bad weeks in a row, right? Oh, he finished T-58 the week before in Palm Springs? Well, then, he can't have three bad weeks in a row. Right?
(B-List): Graham DeLaet. Another guy we touted last week, but who actually did well, earning his second runner-up on the PGA Tour. DeLaet has had little success at TPC Scottsdale, but he's finished T-7 or better in his last three starts.
Now that's a game face.
(B-List): Hunter Mahan. The 2010 Phoenix winner was rusty in his opening start of 2014 at Torrey Pines, but he's shot in the 60s in nine of his previous 10 rounds at TPC Scottsdale.
(C-List): Ryan Palmer. How has golf's "other" Palmer fared in two events so far this year? Just a T-8 at the Sony Open and a runner-up at the Humana Challenge. He finished fifth at this event last year.
Bench/Backups: Patrick Reed, Keegan Bradley, Brian Stuard, and Charley Hoffman, aka Mr. Waste Management.
Knockout/One-and-done pick: Graham DeLaet. What's the use in having prior success at a course? Scott Stallings won last week despite never previously making a cut at Torrey Pines before. No, we're riding recent form instead and picking this Canadian to conquer the desert for his first PGA Tour win.
Previously used: Tim Clark (Sony), Bill Haas (Farmers) Charles Howell III (Humana), Martin Laird (Kapalua).