Waste Management Phoenix Open Predictions to Win
Dates: January 29-Feb 1
Course: TPC Scottsdale - Scottsdale, AZ
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, PGA Golf Handicapper, Predictem.com
It might not be the biggest sporting event to hit the Phoenix area this weekend but the Phoenix Open is making plenty of headlines alongside the big game. Much of that news surrounds Tiger Woods and it varies from his swing to his shoes to his legacy to his teeth. Whatever. We all know that Tiger brings the brightest lights when he decides to tee it up but a very strong field has descended upon TPC Scottsdale, including Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler. This is a bit early for this many big names to be squaring off but that is good news for golf fans and there really is no better place for the golf fan than the Phoenix Open.
The TPC layout at Scottsdale features one of the most notable single holes in all of golf. The 16this a par-3 that is the only fully enclosed hole in tournament golf and fits 30,000 fans inside the grandstands. Bubba Watson likened it to dropping a hole into the middle of a football stadium. The crowds at 16 are the craziest in all of golf and will boo and cheer every shot in the most raucous of ways. The antics at 16 get a lot of attention but this course is immaculate as a whole. The 7,216-yard, par-71 layout is always in near-perfect playing condition and many players have TPC Scottsdale in their top-5 of favorite courses to play. Watch for a medium-fast scoring pace and this course can be friendly to the bombers as there is plenty of friendly real-estate to send drives into. There is plenty of sand however, including greenside bunkers on 17-of-18 holes so accuracy into the greens is more necessary than off the tee. Putting is always a key but distance putting should factor in this week as there are plenty of large greens. Short game prowess is also rewarded here as plenty of holes feature collection areas that present a variety of options to get up and down.
Each week, we take a look at the online betting sites and highlight the players that we like to win it all. We breakdown a few head to head matches as well that can be found at just about any golf sportsbook. Here are our picks to win the 2015 Phoenix Open…
Bubba Watson (14 to 1 odds to win)
Betting the favorite has never been very profitable as Tiger and Rory have often seen their odds to win at a very unfriendly 3 to 1 or so. That value just never paid off in the long run as no one wins enough to bankroll a player all year and still turn a profit but Bubba as the betting favorite at 14 to 1 is pushing no brainer territory. A talent like him should win about every fourteen events so you could essentially blind bet him to win every tournament he enters and likely do no worse than breaking even. Watson has proven he can contend here with a T2 last year and this course really sets up well for the longest driver on Tour. Bubba can bomb away without too much worry about finding OB or some other non-negotiable hazard and he can then use that length to put very short irons in his hands on approach. Watson is not a consistent putter by Tour standards but he is aces when is hot and he knows these greens. He is off to a good start to this season with a win in China and a solo 10that the T.O.C so he seems to be warmed up and ready to go.
Gary Woodland (33 to 1)
I am not usually a fan of this saying but Gary Woodland is essentially the poor mans Bubba Watson. Woodland is very long off the tee, hits a lot of greens and is a streaky putter. All of the above can describe Watson and while Woodland is clearly not as talented, he does get the same benefits as Watson at TPC Scottsdale. Gary can shrink this course and use his wedge game to earn the easy birdie looks that will elude the shorter players. He hasnt missed a cut in Phoenix with a T5 in 2011 as his best finish and he has T2 and T3 finishes in his last two PGA starts. He is rightfully in that second-tier of players but this field is wide-open once you get past the top five or six names.
Brooks Koepka (40 to 1)
Keeping with the long driver theme, Koepka can take advantage of this course with the 6th longest driving average and he backs that up with a strong overall stat sheet that has him 11thin the all-around. While this is his first trip to TPC Scottsdale, he is on a roll with T8 and T4 finishes in his two 2014-15 starts. Koepka is young and has a tendency to give shots away but his birdie average is top-20 so he can keep up with the scoring pace if he can eliminate a few wayward shots through the week. A good week hitting the greens will almost be required for Brooks as he struggles at times in the short game but the conditions are so plush in Phoenix that players often see a bump in their scrambling simply due to the course being in such good shape.
Charley Hoffman (50 to 1)
If you believe in a little sponsor karma, then fire up Hoffman on your betting ticket as Charley is a Waste Management staffer. Besides that, Hoffman is coming off a T2 last week and already has a 2015 season win at the Mayakoba. Charley is plenty long at nearly 300 yards off the tee and adds top-40 marks in green hit, birdie average, scoring average and ballstriking. He can do a bit of everything, even if there are no truly standout stats. Hoffman was a playoff runner-up here in 2009 so he has the Scottsdale track record to run high again. Birdies have never been the problem for Charley, he has a top-10 average there and just a bogey or two less each round will have him on the front page.
Head to Head Picks
Picks to win are based on final score after all four rounds. Check with your favorite betting site for single round matches and a variety of prop bets.
Matt Kuchar v. Rickie Fowler (pick to win: Fowler)
Kuchar is as dependable as they come and has T2 and T3 finishes in his last two starts but Fowler is coming off a streak of seven top-10s in his last eight events and he is primed for big things after a rough start to last season. It took Rickie several months to implement swing changes and it was not looking good as he missed early cut after early cut. That all changed around the middle of the season and while Fowler couldnt cash in any big wins, it was clear that he is ascending to take his place as one of the best young golfers in the world. Even with a shaky start last year, Folwer finished with better birdie numbers and is the longer player of the two. Kuch will be a tough out for anyone but Fowler isnt one you want to bet against either.
Patrick Reed v. Phil Mickelson (pick to win: Reed)
It is easy to like Phil Mickelson but it is not easy to bet on him lately as he just hasnt been the same top-tier performer that most have come to know. If you understand the sliding scale nature of the world golf rankings, then you know that Leftys decline on that list is pretty fast and a true sign that maybe age is catching up with the soon to be 45-year old. Mickelson is getting the big name run and is always up against other bigger names so his betting stock plummets as he is seemingly the lesser golfer once you go beyond the name itself. Reed is a bit raw still but is full of talent and is fresh of a T.O.C. win and has won twice since Phil last hoisted a trophy. They are actually very similar statistical players at this point in their careers but Reed scores better despite fewer birdies per round and simply gets more out of each round. I think Phil is looking to add a couple more Majors to his career total so maybe the focus isnt there for Lefty until we hit Masters week. Make Phil prove that he is something different than this latest version of himself before he gets your bet.
Good luck and good golf!