The tournament many believe to be the start of the golf season takes place this week in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. With fans lining up hours before gates open on a daily basis to make the sprint to the famous 16th hole, it is always one of the PGA’s most anticipated events by fans all season.
One of the highlights of the PGA tour from the 2022 season was when Sam Ryder made a hole-in-one at the 16th, with fans and beer cans erupting. This fan behavior would be frowned upon at nearly every other tournament, much less even at a public golf course, but at the Waste Management, it is heralded.
The Waste Management is usually one of the wildest finishes of the year, but it is clear some players should have a distinct advantage over others. Typically, big-time names win this tournament, and it is uncommon to hear of a PGA player being crowned as a first champion at the Waste Management.
As a bettor, I do not think Rahm (+700) and McIlroy (+850) are worth a look due to their incredibly inflated odds. Rahm has been on a tear recently, winning two of his last three starts on the PGA tour. McIlroy is coming off a win in Europe last week himself at the Dubai Hero Desert Classic. I think both heavyweights struggle in different environments, such as Scottsdale.
In nine of the last ten years, the winner of the Waste Management earned pre-tournament odds of between +1000 and +5000. Bettors are better suited, looking towards Justin Thomas (+2200) and Patrick Cantlay (+1800). These two players are more than double or triple the odds of Rahm and McIlroy and provide much greater value.
I also believe Tony Finau at +1600 is worth a serious look this week. Finau is an American player that has consistently fed off of fan energy, especially in settings akin to the Waste Management, like the Ryder Cup. The tall and loud grandstand surrounding the 16th hole is something Finau will walk up to with a grin every day of the week.
One more player that I like to threaten at the top of the leaderboard this week is Max Homa, who currently sits at +2500. Last week Homa won a home event for himself in the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, California. He carries the momentum and is in the mix through the final 18 holes this week in Scottsdale.
A player that has gained a lot of momentum leading up to this event is Hideki Matsuyama, currently sitting at +3500. Matsuyama opened the week on books at +2800, and his odds have moved inversely. The move by the books leads me to believe books are not intimidated by Matsuyama as a threat to winning this week.
Long Shot Play
A long-shot play I would recommend looking towards is Gary Woodland at +15000. Woodland is a former champion at the Waste Management and has shown he can revitalize some magic in his game for the big events on tour.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook at 8:40 am Wednesday, Feb 8th