This week on the PGA Tour it’s the well-attended Phoenix Open, which is always a great spectacle – made even more of an event Stateside by the fact that it coincides with Super Bowl weekend.
But as far as we’re concerned this week, it’s yards on the fairways and not the football field which matter!
Phoenix Open: The Tournament
This event dates right back to the early days of the PGA (first held in 1932) and is one of the most hotly contested early season tournaments on the schedule, nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Grass”. Formerly known as the Phoenix Open – being played in Scottsdale, just outside Phoenix, in Arizona – it currently goes by not the most attractive of names, the Waste Management Phoenix Open. But it’s a firm favourite with the fans… with over half a million spectators turning up each year to watch the action! The players love it too, and there’s another quality field assembled in the desert for this year’s renewal.
Phoenix Open: The Course
It’s the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale. It’s a 7,266 yard course, a par-71, created out in the Arizona desert by designers Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish (it has subsequently received an upgrade in 2015 – mainly to add extra yardage to several holes). The most famous of which is the par 3 16th, a spectacular fully-enclosed short hole that can make or break a player’s round. Scoring is generally good, given the conditions, with the winner needing around 15-under-par, or better, to lift the trophy.
256: Phil Mickelson (2013)
61: Ernie Els (1994)
Phoenix Open: Past Winners
2020: Webb Simpson
2019: Rickie Fowler
2018: Gary Woodland
2017: Hideki Matsuyama
2016: Hideki Matsuyama
Phoenix Open: The Field
A regulation PGA Tour line-up with 156 golfers in action this week. Jon Rahm is the $7 favourite with TopSport.
Phoenix Open: The Weather
Dry all week, with a minimal chance of any rainfall. Temperatures will be mid-70s (F), rising slightly over the weekend. Wind speeds are negligible, barely reaching 5mph on all four days. So good conditions for the players.
Phoenix Open: Value Bets
Since winning the Tour Championship at East Lake back in September (when we were on him), Schauffele has been the model of consistency. He’s played six events since then, and has finished no worse than 17th – which was at last year’s US Masters. He finished fifth at the US Open, second at the CJ Cup and second last week at Torrey Pines, and he looks the man to beat. My model ranks him as the No.1 player by some margin. He’s played this event three times, finishing 17th, 10th and 16th, and last year was two shots back heading into Sunday, but fired a closing 3-over-par to finish in 16th spot. This course is a ball-strikers paradise, and Schauffele’s been great from tee-to-green since I can remember.
He’s gained strokes from tee-to-green for at least his last ten starts. That’s hard to do, regardless of how good you are. McIlroy is still struggling to put four good rounds together, and Thomas has had to deal with some on/off field issues of late after his highly inappropriate on-course “comment” in Hawaii got picked up. Rahm is obviously a huge threat, but I think Schauffele should be much closer to Rahm in the market, and looks a solid each-way bet at double-figures.
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