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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the Phoenix Open

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

The PGA Tour moves to Scottsdale for the rowdiest event of the year this week, the Phoenix Open, with low scores aplenty and the loudest hole in golf at No. 16 at TPC Scottsdale.

Who May NOT Be Playing

Phil Mickelson, the defending champion and the man who almost shot 59 on Thursday of last year's event, has a back injury that forced him to withdraw from last week's Farmers Insurance Open after 36 holes and may hold him out of this week's event. He said he had to make swing changes to compensate, which is never a good thing to hear from any player. We recommend avoiding Mickelson this week if he chooses to play.

History Lesson

Mickelson won last year's event by four shots over Brandt Snedeker, who is in the field this week. Other recent winners include Hunter Mahan (2010), Mark Wilson (2011) and Kyle Stanley (2012). Recent runner-ups include Rickie Fowler, Jason Dufner and Ben Crane. Dufner is not in this week's field.

Who Is Playing

Noteworthy players who are in the field this week include Lee Westwood, Erik Compton (who had a strong showing last week), Harris English and Patrick Reed.

We recommend English and Reed. English has two wins already in the 2013-14 season. He is seventh in all-around ranking, 14th in greens in regulation, first in total birdies and eighth in greens in regulation percentage from a position other than the fairway.

Reed, the winner of the Humana Challenge two weeks ago, comes in hot as well. He's 24th in greens in regulation and 25th in strokes gained-putting.

A sleeper may well be Pat Perez, who contended last week at Torrey Pines and is ninth in scrambling for the 2013-14 season.

Sunday Surgers

Players whose Sunday form from last week's Farmers Insurance Open could mean good performances for fantasy owners this week.

K.J. Choi, +25 spots -
Choi shot a dazzling Sunday 66 on a difficult Torrey Pines South Course that nearly got him into a playoff. With a top-20 finish in all three starts this season, Choi sits fourth in scoring average and 30th in greens in regulation.

Charley Hoffman, +20 spots -
Hoffman's Sunday 67 - after a Saturday 75 in really tough conditions - gave him a T7 finish and some momentum heading into TPC Scottsdale. Hoffman is 10th total driving and ninth in the all-around category.

Bubba Watson, +24 spots -
Watson shot a strong Sunday 69 to give himself a T23 finish. But his erratic play lately may scare off some fantasy owners, who will see him second in driving distance and 14th in greens in regulation but a startling 165th in strokes gained-putting.

Justin Leonard, +19 spots -
Leonard is on a recent roll, as his three appearances in 2014 have all seen him have finishes of T32 or better. Always a straight hitter, Leonard is 19th in driving accuracy.

Brendan Steele, +26 spots -
Steele shot a Sunday 69 that saw him take a sizeable jump up the leaderboard to a T28 finish. Steele is 11th in driving distance and 42nd in proximity to the hole. He's also fifth in proximity to the hole on approaches from more than 200 yards.