Experts' predictions, Phoenix Open edition

February, 2, 2011
02/02/11
9:03
AM ET

Each week in the PGA Tour season, our panel of experts will share their insight into which players fit the criteria for our four categories below: Birdie Buster, Horse for the Course, Super Sleeper and Winner.

This week's tournament: The Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Want another opinion? Check out ESPN.com's FOREcaster page.

ESPN.com golf writer Bob Harig

Horse for the course: J.B. Holmes
He's coming off a poor weekend at Torrey Pines, but Holmes likes TPC Scottsdale. It's where both of his PGA Tour victories have occurred.

Birdie Buster: Nick Watney
How about the 28 he just shot on the back nine at Torrey Pines on Sunday? Watney made eight birdies and a par on his way to flirting with 59 before settling for a 63 and a top-10 finish.

Super Sleeper: Geoff Ogilvy
Hard to envision the PGA Tour veteran as a sleeper, but the bizarre finger injury he suffered in Hawaii prior to the season opener -- he cut it on coral -- has kept him out of two tournaments. He's making his 2011 debut.

Winner: Dustin Johnson
The big ballpark in Arizona should suit the big-hitting Johnson just fine, and he's coming off top-10s in both of his starts this year, including a tie for third last week at Torrey Pines.


ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire

Horse for the course: Hunter Mahan
Love is in the air. After getting hitched in January, Mahan's first tournament as a married man produced a tie for sixth at Torrey Pines last week. Don't expect the honeymoon to be over as he won in Scottsdale a year ago after going 65-65 on the weekend.

Birdie Buster: Rickie Fowler
The youngster finished solo-second here a year ago as a rookie on a sponsor's exemption but took some flak for laying up late in the final round, even though going for a par-5 in two could have helped him earn that first PGA Tour victory. He stumbled with a 74 on Sunday at Torrey Pines, but a top-20 result in your season opener isn't too shabby.

Super Sleeper: J.B. Holmes
Why is a guy who made nearly $2.4 million in 2010 a super sleeper, you ask? Well, because at TPC Scottsdale, it's either feast or famine. Both of his PGA Tour wins have come at this venue, but he has as many victories as missed cuts in five starts in the desert.

Winner: Jhonattan Vegas
Sure, it's easy to go with the hot hand, but he's still just a rookie making his seventh PGA Tour start. Dare we say, after winning the Bob Hope Classic two weeks ago and finishing T-3 at Torrey Pines last week, the 69th-ranked player in the world is playing with house money.


ESPN.com golf writer and blogger Jason Sobel

Horse for the course: Kevin Na
I touted him in this space one week ago, but the truth is he never plays all that well at Torrey Pines. The same can't be said for his performance at TPC Scottsdale, where he was T-2 in 2005, T-4 in '08 and solo third in '09. I've got to believe his first career victory is right around the corner.

Birdie Buster: Charles Howell III
Don't look now, but Chucky Threesticks might be making his seemingly biennial charge up the rankings. He's fresh off a pair of top-15 results, including a T-14 at Torrey Pines, where he ranked 11th in total birdies -- a notable stat for a steady guy known more for avoiding big numbers than posting red ones.

Super Sleeper: Joe Ogilvie
A former PGA Tour champion, he finished 143rd on last year's money list and now owns only conditional status. He was granted a sponsor's exemption into this event and needs a big week to ensure some more appearances down the road. Mirroring last year's eighth-place result would do the trick.

Winner: Phil Mickelson
It seems too easy, doesn't it? Fresh off a runner-up finish last week, Lefty returns to the site of his college days and a tournament where he owns two victories. He's coming up on 10 full months without a title, but Mickelson is simply too good to go much longer without one. It happens this week.

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