The next stop of the PGA Tour is Scottsdale, Arizona where the Waste Management Phoenix Open will be played. TPC Scottsdale will be hosting the tournament and the players will encounter a 7200 yards Par 71. The tournament is unique on the PGA Tour because of the central role that spectators play at the course. Almost 500,00 people attend the tournament every year making it the best-attended tournament on Tour.
There are three Par 5’s and 11 Par 4’s on the course and the layout favors ball strikers. Getting some distance off the tee is important although all aspects of the game are likely to be tested here. The greens are lined by overseeded Bermuda and play very true in general.
The weather is forecast to be sunny without any chance of rain. The wind should not be much of a factor either.
Hideki Matsuyama has won the tournament the last two years, Brooks Koepka won it in 2015, Kevin Stadler won it in 2014, and Phil Mickelson won it in 2013. Some of the best players in the world are going to be playing this tournament as they try and get into the groove of the season before the really big tournaments start popping up.
Players will need to have their drivers and irons working perfectly to have a chance at winning this tournament. Players that are also good at avoiding trouble tend to stand out and move steadily up the charts. Rickie Fowler famously gave up a two-shot lead on the Par 4 17th and lost a chance at winning the title in 2016.
Stats That Matter
The Wolf is looking at three main stats for this weekend:
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
Par 4 Scoring
The winning scores at this tournament have hovered around -16 ever since the Course was redesigned by Tom Weiskopf in 2014. Phil Mickelson won with a -28 under Par the year before and that may have had something with the course being upgraded in its level of difficulty. The Wolf expects the winning score to be around -15 under this year as well considering the favorable weather conditions.
Hideki Matsuyama is an obvious favorite at this tournament but Rickie Fowler has also done quite well here. Players like Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, and Justin Thomas are perfectly suited for this course and should be in the mix.
The Wolf’s favorite for this tournament is Jordan Spieth at $10.00. Spieth has been hitting his irons with deadly precision and even though his putting is not at the level everyone is used to seeing, it is still pretty good. Jordan Spieth is not the longest hitter of the golf ball but he can dial it up when needed. He is 2nd in Par 4 scoring, 8th in Bogey Avoidance, and 6th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. Spieth has played this tournament two times in the past and finished in the top-10 both times.
The Wolf is going with Rickie Fowler as the value pick this week at $15.00. This is an excellent price for Rickie Fowler and could be influenced by the fact that he missed a cut last week. One off weekend, though, does not take away from the fact that he is in excellent form. He finished T4 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, T2 at the OHL Classic just a few weeks back. He also has a T4 and a T2 at this tournament in the last two years. He is currently 1st in Bogey Avoidance, 13th in Par 4 Scoring, and 27th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
For the outside pick, the Wolf likes Webb Simpson at $36.00. Simpson has an excellent knowledge of this course and was unfortunate to have lost in a playoff last year. He has not finished below T14 in his last five appearances here. Simpson is 4th in Bogey Avoidance, 3rd in Par 4 performance, and 38th in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
At the price he is being offered, he is well worth a punt.