Waste Management Phoenix Open Predictions to Win
Dates: February 4-7, 2016
Course: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium) – Scottsdale, AZ
TV: The Golf Channel/NBC
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Betting Analyst, Predictem.com
I’m pretty sure you are aware of a certain American Football game going on this Sunday so while I understand if much of your betting bankroll is tied up, don’t forget to set aside a little change for golf. The PGA Tour marches on and heads to the desert for the Phoenix Open. This event is well-known throughout golf as one of the best or at least rowdiest fan environments on Tour and the Phoenix Open owns almost every PGA attendance record. Of course, the par-3, 16th hole brings the most unique spectator element as the entire hole is encased in what is essentially a small stadium. The amphitheatre houses 20,000 raucous fans that are looking to cheer the best shots and soundly boo the worst. What might seem like a bit of a nightmare for players is actually looked favorably upon, at least until someone clanks a shot off the grandstand. Phil Mickelson will be looking for his 4th Phoenix Open title this week and the former Arizona State product will move his overall Arizona win total to seven if he can best the field. Brooks Koepka will defend his 2015 title against a strong field featuring a good chunk of the top-25 players in the world. Rickie Fowler will be a favorite to contend after his win in Abu Dhabi but we will see if his travel schedule will be a limiting factor as it has been with other top players of late.
TPC Scottsdale is a regular among the Tour course rotation and has hosted the Phoenix Open going back to 1987. There have been a few tweaks along the way but the 7,266 yard, par-71 layout features all the greatest hits of desert golf. There is plenty of sand of course, and players will often challenge this course as the penalties for missing fairways here aren’t all that hard to come back from. The big bombers on Tour have done well here but so have more than a few shorter hitters. The shorter distance guys will have to be a bit more precise with the irons than the big hitters but there that’s nothing new. Players will have to take advantage of the stretch from holes 15-17 as they represent some of the best birdie opportunities on paper with #18 waiting as a difficult par-4 finisher. There could be plenty of drama coming down the stretch as anything from eagles to double bogeys can be carded during that final four-hole stanza.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the players that we think are the best bets to win. We are still looking for our first winner of the season but we have a couple of close calls, including picking Jimmy Walker to win last week that looked great until the wind decided to blow 50mph through the weekend at Torrey Pines. Oh well. We make some picks to win and breakdown a couple of head-to-head matches that you can find at Bovada Sportsbook.
Bubba Watson (11 to 1 odds to win)
Bubba hasn’t played much this season, logging just two 2016 starts but his TPC Scottsdale record is undoubtedly the best in the field. Watson made a furious charge to a runner-up here last year, also finished 2nd the year before and was 5th in 2012. Multiple quality finishes not only provide confidence to players but also suggest that there is just something about a course that just matches up well. Bubba can go around here and use his Tour-leading driving distance to overpower this course and hit just about every approach with a wedge. Eventually that pays off and Bubba will be firing rounds in the mid-60’s if he can shave even a couple of putts off his bulky 30 putts per round average. Watson enters the week averaging over four birdies per round and there isn’t enough trouble at Scottsdale to take strokes back so look for Bubba to gain a big edge on the field from tee-to-green and he will contend if he putts in the top third of the field.
Jason Dufner (25 to 1)
There aren’t many that are off to a better start than Dufner. The CareerBuilder champ has two other top-10 finishes in the early going and seems to be in a much better mental space after some marital facts of life distracted him a bit last year. Dufner is a great model of what wins here as he is 19th in total driving, 13th in ballstriking and 19th in putting average. He has logged the 7th best birdie average, 5th best scoring average and has moved into the top-10 in the all around category. Jason wasn’t anywhere near that level of statistical success last year so he is simply hot if nothing else and he looks like he is rounding back into the kind of shape that made him a Major champion.
Ryan Palmer (33 to 1)
After missing a cut back in October, Palmer has made the weekend in each of his subsequent starts and has consecutive finishes of T16-T13-T17. That isn’t exactly knocking down the door of a win but there are a lot of players that are still looking to find a rhythm at this point of the season while Palmer appears to be in good shape. Ryan was T2 here last year and 5th in 2013 so he has the proven Scottsdale record and has the style that should produce. Palmer is 5th in driving distance, 36th in total driving and clocks in at 24th in ballstriking. Top-20 birdie and scoring ranks alongside a top-15 putting average is good enough to have Palmer at 4th in the all around so you can’t find a much better value bet based on the stat sheet.
Gary Woodland (50 to 1)
Sticking with the long hitter theme, I like Woodland as a longshot play. Gary is 4th in driving distance, 24th in greens hit and leads the Tour in strokes gained from tee-to-green. His putting hasn’t been good enough to produce the top-notch results but his has three top-25’s in four starts and has a top-5 finish at Scottsdale. Despite a spotty putter, Woodland is averaging over four birdies per round so if he can limit his mistakes, he should be hanging around the front page heading into the weekend. The winner here typically find a way to shoot at least one round at 66 or better and Woodland has the ability to dominate this layout, card that low round, and leapfrog the field.
Picks to win based on predicted score after all four rounds. Check with one of our recommended online sportsbooks for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Rickie Fowler v. Brooks Koepka (pick to win: Koepka)
Betting golf is full of intangibles and hidden advantages and one of the biggest factors that is tough to pin down is fatigue. Golfers don’t need to be in peak physical conditions like other athletes but fatigue robs players of focus and attention and those things are critical to playing winning golf. Fowler is making a case to be included in the same conversation as Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy by winning overseas but a hectic travel schedule can just wreck a golfer’s week. Add in a little hangover from winning and Rickie is ripe for a bit of a letdown. Brooks, on the other hand, has plenty of good mojo going as the defending champ here and while it is always difficult to win back-to-back, it is not all that uncommon to log a very good finish the next year, especially on well-known course. I think Fowler will be a little flat and that gives Koepks the advantage this week.
Phil Mickelson v. J.B. Holmes (pick to win: Holmes)
Mickelson is getting all the love this week as the crowd favorite but Holmes is quietly a 2-time champ here and will prove a tough out for Lefty. Phil had a nice T3 to start his season but missed the cut last week while Holmes survived the Torrey winds en route to a T6. Mickelson has continued to slip from his all-time form and is outside the top-150 in both fairways and greens. He still scores well due to experience and moxie but that only gets you so far when the difference between the best golfer and the 200th best is about a stroke per round. Holmes isn’t lighting it up on the stat sheet either but you can find J.B. at even money or better depending on the outlet and that is about all you need when taking on Lefty right now. If Mickelson finds something of his former self, he will start to be a betting option again but for now, put your money against him and make him prove it. Find the lowest odds and the largest selection of golfer vs. golfer bets and props at 5Dimes.
Good luck and good golf!