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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Return to the Madhouse

The biggest story this week is probably Johnny Miller's retirement from announcing, but the circus at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is always something to watch.

The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale

Gary Woodland is the defending champion at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but the 2016 and 2017 champion (as well as 2015 runner-up) Hideki Matsuyama is back healthy again and 2015 champ Brooks Koepka would certainly like to pick up another win on a course he's won at before.

And in the face of these dominating performers, am I going to choose one of them as my winner this week? Of course not! Let's live on the edge a little -- after all, that seems to be the mindset at this event.
  • For my Top10 finisher, I'm going to give Rickie Fowler another chance. Just as Justin Rose needed a week to knock off the rust before hitting his stride, I think Rickie may be in the same boat. He's had a chance to use that new Taylormade ball in competition and he's coming to a course where he's had a couple of runner-ups (2010 and 2016). I suspect he's got something to prove.
  • As for my winner, I like a player who's already won this season. Xander Schauffele has two wins thus far in the 2018-19 wraparound season -- the WGC-HSBC Champions and the Sentry Tournament of Champions. TPC Scottsdale is a great layout for a player like him and he had a T17 last year, his only other appearance at the event. He's proven that he likes the big stage.
The changing of the guard in the announcer's booth is scheduled for the weekend, with Johnny calling his last round on Saturday and Paul Azinger taking over for Sunday's final round. The reason is that NBC wants to honor Johnny during his final broadcast without the crowning of the winner distracting from that. It's a nice gesture on their part for a man who has been the defining golf personality of the network.

GC's Golf Central PreGame is scheduled to start at 2pm ET on Thursday, with regular coverage starting at 3pm ET. For those of you with PGA Tour Live, coverage starts at 9:15am ET.

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