A last-minute switch to predicting a Ryan Palmer victory instead of a Bill Haas win looked pretty good on Friday as Palmer got to 10 under through 10 holes and looked on his way to shooting the PGA Tour's first ever 58. But Palmer cooled off and Haas, of course, won, leaving me happy for my fellow Wake Forest classmate but also kicking myself for not having gone with my heart. "Oooh, Billy, Billy, Billy," as Judge Smails would say. At least, keeping Haas in my lineup paid off dividends and hopefully he helped you, too. Who are we tabbing this week at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, aka the Tiger Woods makes his latest comeback Challenge? A look at our Yahoo! lineup:
Starters -- (A-List): Bubba Watson. You'd think I'd learn my lesson in underestimating Haas, but I'm going with Bubba in this spot. Watson should have won here last year and his firepower at the score-friendly TPC Scottsdale makes him the favorite. Tiger is also listed in the A category, but despite his assurance he's hit "thousands of chips," I can't get those chunks from the last time we saw him out of my memory.
(B-List): Rickie Fowler. A runner-up here in 2010, Fowler has missed the cut in his last two trips to Phoenix. But those were before he fully morphed into Rickie 2.0 under Butch Harmon and started contending basically every time he tees it up. We're banking on win No. 2.0 when this orange butterfly spreads his wings in the desert -- or, something like that.
(B-List): Hideki Matsuyama. It's just a matter of time before last year's Memorial champ wins again. After the Japanese star finished T-4 in his first go-round at TPC Scottsdale last year, this seems like a logical place to do it.
(C-List): Brendan Steele. Tough call here over red-hot rookie Justin Thomas, but Steele's TPC Scottsdale track record is just too good. In the last three years he's finished T-5, T-6 and T-6.
Bench/Backups: Bill Haas, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, and Justin Thomas.
Knockout/One-and-done pick: Brendan Steele. Belly putters everywhere can look to Brendan for inspiration. He made the switch to a regular putter last summer and he hasn't looked back, including a runner-up at last week's Humana Challenge. (Looks up Steele's strokes gained/putting to see he only ranks 131st). Hmm. Well, that is, if you make the switch AND improve everything else about your golf game, you'll be fine. . .
Previously used: Charles Howell III (Sony), Geoff Ogilvy (Hyundai), Ryan Palmer (Humana).