Power Rankings: Waste Management Phoenix Open


This week marks the 11th event of the 2013-14 PGA Tour season, as players head to the "Greenest show on grass" at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. (our Power Rankings for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic can be viewed here). A field of 132 will look to go low at TPC Scottsdale while dealing with the raucuous crowds around the famed par-3 16th hole.

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Phil Mickelson returns to defend the title he won last year by four shots over Brandt Snedeker. Here are 10 players to watch this week in Arizona:

1. Webb Simpson: After beginning the new season with a win in Las Vegas, Simpson has continued to impress and his T-23 at Humana was his first finish outside the top 10 since September. He holds the early-season lead on Tour in GIR percentage, strokes gained putting, birdie average and scoring average - not a bad combination.

2. Keegan Bradley: Bradley has been quietly consistent this season, finishing T-18 or better in each of his first four starts including a tie for 16th in San Diego where he shot par or better in each of his three rounds on the brutal South Course. He's only made two starts in Phoenix but both resulted in top-25 finishes, including a T-15 showing in 2012.

3. Bubba Watson: Watson cracked the top 25 at Torrey Pines with a 3-under 69 Sunday, and he certainly has the length to bomb it around TPC Scottsdale. The former Masters champ has finished inside the top 15 each of the last two years at this event, including a T-5 in 2012. 

4. Graham DeLaet: The Canadian had yet another close call at Torrey Pines, as the question of his maiden PGA Tour title appears to be when, not if. DeLaet led the Tour last season in ball-striking and appears to have picked up right where he left off, now riding a string of three straight top-10 finishes.

5. Gary Woodland: A runner-up in Malaysia, Woodland appeared in line for victory last week before his accuracy left him on Sunday. He remains on the upswing overall, though, and now heads to an event where his length will prove to be an asset and where he has finished T-26 or better each of the last three years.

6. Hunter Mahan: A winner here in 2010, Mahan tied for 16th last year and hasn't carded a round over 70 at TPC Scottsdale since 2009. Knocked some rust off with a T-47 last week in his season debut at Torrey Pines and should be expected to fare much better this time around. 

7. Harris English: It's early in the season, but already English finds himself fifth on Tour in birdie average and seventh in scoring average - both of which should help this week where scores will be low. A winner earlier this season in Mexico, English nearly won again in Hawaii and tied for 15th in his Phoenix debut in 2012. 

8. Phil Mickelson: Mickelson's potential this week depends entirely on his aching back. If he's healthy, he's a threat to repeat and hoist the trophy for the fourth time in his adopted hometown. If the injury that forced him out last week continues to linger, he could struggle to even get his title defense off the ground.

9. Scott Piercy: Piercy is a resident of nearby Las Vegas and has won in Reno, so golf in this area of the country seems to suit him. His third-place finish last year was the third top-10 in his last four Phoenix starts, and the friendly confines of TPC Scottsdale should help him rebound from back-to-back missed cuts.

10. Marc Leishman: Opened the new year with a fifth-place showing at Sony and followed that up with a share of second at Torrey Pines. The Aussie had a banner year in 2013 that yielded a Presidents Cup berth and appears eager for more in 2014. Tied for 19th here in 2012.