Welcome to Playing The Field, the successor to 2009's Five To Watch, where we break down the big stories and the big players at each tournament. This week, the Tour returns to one of its finest locations, Torrey Pines, for what's become the unofficial kickoff to the 2010 season. And we're off ...
Phil Mickelson: A slam-dunk. All eyez on Phil this week (it's a 15-year-old Tupac reference, which means it's now safe to use in a golf context) as Mickelson returns to competition. Darn near everybody on earth is picking Mickelson to take over the top spot in golf, and Torrey Pines is right there in Phil's hometown ... which means he'll probably totally flame out this week, poor guy.
Lucas Glover: Still a tossup as to whether he's the real deal or a guy who gets hot at the right times; there's evidence for both after the last few months. He had the Sony Open in his hands before bogeying himself out of the hunt. Time to close the deal, Lucas. And remember, you've beaten Phil before.
Ryan Moore: Has slopped his way to a couple of top-10 finishes in both his starts this year. With a few more good finishes in high-profile tournaments, he could be vying for the title of People's Champion with Mickelson.
Roto Arcade's Sleeper Pick: Steve Marino. As Yahoo! Sports fantasy golf expert Scott Pianowski notes, "There isn't an obvious weakness in Marino's game - other than the empty mantle, I suppose -- and that's the type of versatility that will serve you well at this week's challenge. He's one of the Top 5 players on tour without a victory, that's for sure."
The Tiger-shaped hole in the field: Nobody's going to want to admit it, but everybody's going to be thinking it, particularly if we get a couple of less-than-household names running for the title on Sunday afternoon. It's the first tourney of the year on broadcast TV -- on CBS Saturday and Sunday -- and the idea that there will be a certain red shirt missing from the field has to have broadcast execs on the edge of vomiting. Of course, if all the people who claim they're tired of Tiger saturation coverage actually tuned in this weekend, CBS would do recordbreaking numbers.
All right, you're up. Who's your pick this week? What stories will you be watching? Go!