Waste Management Phoenix Open outrights and matchups preview

Will Zalatoris
Jun 14, 2018; Southampton, NY, USA; Will Zalatoris tees off the eighth hole during the first round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Shinnecock Hills GC - Shinnecock Hills Golf C. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The PGA Tour heads to Scottsdale, Arizona for one of the most popular stops of the year, the Waste Management Phoenix Open. This event is widely known for the party-like atmosphere and a large number of fans in attendance. This year will be quite different with them only allowing 5,000 fans per day. Even with the Covid restrictions in place, it still is a great field at a great course and should lead to an exciting week.

The field

A star-studded field will take on TPC Scottsdale this weekend including Rory McIlroy, who will be making his first ever appearance at this event. Jon Rahm is the favorite on the betting board and will be teeing it up just down the road from where he went to college at ASU. He must enjoy the local feel as he has never finished worse than 16th in his five starts. Justin Thomas returns to the states after a couple weeks over in Europe where his results weren’t quite as solid as we had seen on the PGA Tour as of late. 

A few other notables who have had solid course history here are Webb Simpson, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, and Xander Schauffele. 

Matthew Wolff also returns to the course after an unexpected withdrawal after the first round of last week’s event. It will be worth monitoring any additional news we can find on him throughout the week.

The course

The TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course is a par-71 that reaches right around 7,200 yards. The greens are Bermudagrass but are overseeded with a few different types so it plays as more of a blend than any one specific type. The course is riddled with bunkers and water but overall doesn’t play too difficult. The scoring to par is typically average to easy with the winning scores the last few years being between 14 and 18 under.

The greens tend to play very fast which makes putting that much more important. Par-4 scoring is also a crucial stat for the week. These holes tend to play very risk/reward. Players who are aggressive and accurate off-the-tee will have an advantage but with water all around the holes and fairways, wayward drives can easily be penalized. This, most notably, takes effect on the short 17th hole which most golfers will take aim at off the tee. Water just to the left of the green comes into play quite often but it also had an eagle rate of almost 2% last year and ranks as the 3rd easiest hole on the course.

Past winners of this event have been a mix of different skill sets. Some bombers have found success but so have more accurate golfers like last year’s winner, Webb Simpson. Ball Striking in general is what leads to positive results around this course. We’ll be looking at overall tee-to-green play and ball striking as opposed to just off-the-tee and approach. 

Notable stats

  • Strokes Gained: tee-to-green
  • Strokes Gained: ball striking
  • Par-4 Scoring
  • Proximity 150 – 175 yards
  • Strokes Gained: putting

Outright value

Daniel Berger +1700

Player NameSG: T2GSG: BSSG: PSG: Par 4Prox: 150-175SG: TotalP4: 450-500
Daniel Berger15191221231046
Berger stats

Daniel Berger may not lead the field in any one stat category but when it comes to a course that requires a solid all-around game, Berger is always one of my first go tos. When looking at the relevant stats for this week, he is in the top-25 in the field in almost all of them. There is really no glaring weakness to his game and that is exactly what you’re looking for when targeting golfers at TPC Scottsdale. 

This sort of logic is what led him to a 9th place finish last year and two other top-11 finishes within the three years prior to that. His recent form is also trending in the right direction. His last five starts have all resulted in finishes inside the top-30 including two weeks ago at the Sony when he posted a result of 7th. Berger looks primed to make a run at the title this week and I feel good about starting my betting card with him at 17/1.

Will Zalatoris +5000

Player NameSG: T2GSG: BSSG: PSG: Par 4Prox: 150-175SG: TotalP4: 450-500
Will Zalatoris201212659532640
Zalatoris stats

It is only a matter of time until the young PGA pro has a breakthrough win, and it could definitely be this week. Zalatoris has now made seven starts on the PGA Tour and has stayed to play the weekend in six of them. Last week was one of his better showings with a 7th place finish at Torrey Pines. He gained 5.3 strokes: tee to green last week and a total of 5.5 throughout his previous five events. 

We’ve seen the likes of Collin Morikawa and Matthew Wolff claim titles early in their careers and Will Zalatoris appears to be next in the long line of young standouts. He is 12th in this field in ball striking and 20th in tee-to-green. He’s got the exact game we are looking for around this course and it wouldn’t shock me to see him on the first page of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Rickie Fowler +5500 (+900 top-5)

Player NameSG: T2GSG: BSSG: PSG: Par 4Prox: 150-175SG: TotalP4: 450-500
Rickie Fowler3251764993475
Fowler stats

Okay, just hear me out. Sure, Fowler hasn’t posted a top-10 finish since January of last year. And yes, he has currently fallen to 67th in the world golf rankings, by far his lowest spot in about a decade. Call me crazy, but I think Rickie is gearing up to make a run over the next couple months. Let’s start with course history at TPC Scottsdale. He has played this event 11 times and has made the cut in 9 of them. This includes finishes of 4th, 2nd, 2nd, and 1st. 

Rickie stares into the distance
Rickie Fowler tees off from the 15th during the third round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic golf tournament at the Detroit Golf Club in Detroit, Saturday, July 4, 2020.

How about recent form? He is not looking nearly as bad as he was throughout the summer. Over his last 5 events he has actually gained strokes overall including 1.5 off-the-tee. Last week, he gained strokes in all categories except for putting, where he lost 3.7, thus leading to his finish of 53rd. If he got any putts to drop on Sunday we could have easily seen a top-20 finish. It will take a lot for Fowler to get back in the winner’s circle, but I am looking at 55/1 as a buy low opportunity. If he shows some signs of life, we will once again only be seeing odds around 25/1 moving forward. 

Tournament matchups

Hideki Matsuyama -110 over Harris English

Harris English looked straight up bad last week. He was almost last in the field in tee-to-green and also lost 3.2 strokes on approach. I was waiting to see who he would get in a matchup and I was quite excited to see Hideki’s name pop up. Matsuyama has the best course history of anyone in the field. He has played here six times and has never finished worse than 16th. His first four trips resulted in finishes of 4th / 2nd / 1st / 1st. Easy matchup as far as I’m concerned.

Sungjae Im -106 over Billy Horschel

Sungjae has been the model of consistency over the past six months. He is known for competing in almost every tournament throughout the year and more often than not is in contention. Last week he posted a solid 32nd place finish to follow the 12th he put up the week before that. His two trips to Phoenix have seen finishes of 34th and 7th. Billy Horschel is pretty inconsistent and a missed cut last week to follow up the 7th the event before proves just that. I’ll happily side with the ball striking ability of Sungjae over Horschel who has lost strokes on approach in 7 straight starts.

Finishing positions

Webb Simpson top-10 +188

I’ve been loving these short odd top-10 bets recently and this week is no different. This course was made for Webb and his results have shown it. We know he is the defending champ but he has also posted finishes of 8th, 8th, 10th, and 2nd throughout his career. Five top-10 finishes in nine starts? Sign me up for the plus odds that he does it again.

Max Homa top-20 +335

We saw last year around this time Homa began to make his way to the first page of leaderboards and the past few weeks have resulted in this same trend. His last three starts have seen finishes of 12th, 21st, and 18th. Last year leading up to this event, he had finishes of 25th, 48th, and 9th. His result that week? 6th. He gained 4.5 strokes on approach last week and 5.5 strokes tee-to-green. I will most likely take a stab at his 100/1 odds to win as well as the top-20.

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