Waste Management Phoenix Open Betting Preview: It was a wild week at Torrey Pines last week with Patrick Reed winning by five shots and overcoming another suspicious rules situation. Reed’s embedded ball on 10 Saturday caused quite the stir, but ultimately a Sunday 68 backed by a scorching hot short game wrapped it up.
Will Zalatoris, Adam Scott, and Ryan Palmer had strong weeks, and sadly Rory McIlroy shot a back nine 39 Sunday to miss a top 10 payout by one shot.
TPC Scottsdale plays host to the PGA Tour this week for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The WMPO is known for its vast crowds and raucous par three 16th hole stadium setting. This tournament will look more different this year than maybe any other, with only 5,000 fans in attendance.
This week’s field is pretty solid with some really strong names at the top as Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele are teeing it up. Many top players are playing in Saudi Arabia this week, but this is still a formidable field.
TPC Scottsdale is a par 71, 7,261 yards with Bermuda greens and quite a few water hazards to contend with. Despite the desert layout and water hazards in play, this tournament usually produces a lot of good scoring, with winning scores of at least 14-under the last five years. The final four holes usually provide some drama with a reachable par five and a dangerous but drivable par four.
Players who give themselves the most opportunities to make birdies will have the best chance here. Approach play will be vital to getting good looks, and since the rough isn’t very penalizing, guys will be able to hit the driver a lot, meaning the bombers are in play.
All types of players have won this tournament, but the stats I’ll be looking at closely are SG:APP, SG: OTT and Opportunities Gained (FantasyNational statistic for birdie opportunities inside 15 ft from hole on green or fringe PLUS Greens/Fringe Under Regulation).
Putting is hard to predict week to week, but in a tournament where the scores will be low, a hot putter will be necessary to contend. Typically for me, this means players who are particularly bad putters will have difficulty winning unless they seriously outperform their average.
Waste Management Phoenix Open Betting Preview Picks
Based on recent winners and the relative strength of this field, I want to stick with guys who have real winning pedigree and players who have proven they can compete in promising fields.
Recent winners of this tournament point to an established player winning this event as Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama (twice), and Gary Woodland have won the five most recent WMPO’s. With Rahm, Rory, Webb, JT, and Xander all here in good form, it’s hard not to see at least a couple of those guys in the mix, but their outright prices are just too sharp.
Sungjae Im +3400 (BetRivers)
Sungjae is one of my favorite players to bet on each week because he is a consistent ball striker and typically lends itself to consistent finishes. Im comes in at 10th in SG: OTT and 29th in SG: APP in the field over the last 50 rounds and also ranks 11th in Opportunities Gained.
Typically where Im can struggle is on the greens, ranking 49th in SG: Putting over the last 50 rounds. However, his best putting comes on Bermuda greens where he actually gains nearly .4 strokes per round.
Sungjae is a strong all-around player with some quality finishes over the last year (7 top 10’s), including a win at the Honda Classic in a strong field. Im also had solid finishes in his two starts at this tournament, placing 34th and 7th in the last two years. His recent form is solid with four straight made cuts and three top 12’s in his previous six starts.
Sungjae would be a solid top 20 play at +150 as well.
Will Zalatoris +5000 (BetRivers)
I may be a little early on Zalatoris winning here, but I’d rather be early than late. Zalatoris’s success on the Korn Ferry Tour has translated immediately to the PGA Tour. He’s played seven events and has four top 10’s and a 16th place finish. Zalatoris finished 7th last week at the Farmers, capped by an incredible eagle on the 72nd hole.
Zalatoris is right up my alley for the type of golfer I like to bet. He is a ball-striking machine, ranking 3rd in SG:APP in the field over the last 24 rounds. He is also top 20 in SG: OTT and ranks 2nd in SG:Par 5, which will be important here as making your birdies on the par fives are necessary.
Zalatoris doesn’t have the winning pedigree on tour yet, but he’s shown he belongs. At 50/1 and in good form, I’ll take the bet that these performances are no fluke. A top 20 finish pays out +175 right now at Betrivers as well.
Sebastian Munoz +15000. 6 places each way. (BetRivers)
This is purely the case of a wrong number. Munoz is a talented player who has a win on tour. He is a pretty good all-around player who can get a bit streaky at times. His putting comes and goes, but Bermuda is by far his best putting surface. His length off the tee and solid ball striking are a good fit for TPC Scottsdale.
Munoz has 7 top 20’s since the Covid restart, and each-way odds of 30-1 for six places is a really nice value. His derivative odds for top 20, 30, and 40 hold some value as well.
Longshots I like: Russell Henley +7500
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Top 10 –
To me, this week, there is a tier of five golfers who have clearly established themselves as elite players. Their outright numbers are priced sharp, and it’s hard to find value there, but I think this is where there may be some. Rahm and JT don’t offer much value here at their numbers, but their history here is excellent. This is a little different approach than what I would normally do, but between these players and the fit here, I think the winner likely comes from that group of five.
Xander Schauffele +120, Rory McIlroy +175 & Webb Simpson +188.
Take your pick or take them all, but I think anyone in this group is a good value to top 10 here. They all are elite ball strikers and fit this course so well.
Xander has finished in the top 25 in 14 straight starts and 25 of his last 27 starts. I almost couldn’t believe that stat, but he has been the most consistent player on tour in the previous 18 months. He also has three straight top 17 finishes at this event.
The same things apply to Rory as last week. Although he hasn’t played this event before, the tools it takes to succeed here are precisely what he brings to the table. Rory’s issue has been his putting, especially last week, but Bermuda is his best putting surface, and he should at least be better than last week.
He’s the best tee to green player on the earth and is in good form; as long as the putter is okay, he will be in contention.
Webb’s history at this event is stellar. He has seven top 20’s in his last eight starts here with a win last year. He is a great putter and iron player, and Bermuda is also his best putting surface. Webb is also running 10 out of 11 starts finishing in the top 17 with 5 top 10’s.
Top 20 –
Russell Henley +225
TPC Scottsdale rewards good approach play, and Henley has been one of the best iron players on tour over the last six months. Henley is 1st in SG:APP over the last 50 rounds in this field and 4th in opportunities gained. His putter is his weak spot, but Bermuda is his favorite putting surface.
Henley has nine top 30’s in his last 11 events and has gained strokes on approach in 14 straight tournaments. Look for Henley’s ball-striking to shine through this week.
Corey Conners +275
Conners is a guy on paper, I would bet every week. He is one of the best players off the tee and on approach on tour. His problem is on the greens. He has been a really poor putter, but there are signs of life gaining strokes, putting over his last five tournaments. Conner’s has made eight straight cuts, including six top 25 finishes. He ranks 16th in SG:APP and 6th in SG: OTT in this field over the last 50 rounds. I think he has a decent enough week putting to capitalize on exceptional tee to green play.
Others I like: Henrik Norlander +335
Russell Henley -118 over Si Woo Kim
This may seem odd betting against a player who just won two weeks ago, but Si Woo has really struggled on this golf course. Over the last five years at this tournament, no player has lost more strokes to the field than Si Woo. I can’t exactly pinpoint his issues here, but it’s obvious this course doesn’t fit his eye with three missed cuts in five tries here, never finishing better than 62nd.
I discussed Henley above, and the same things apply here. His floor is so much higher than Kim’s, and I think his ceiling here is contending, so this was an easy call for me.
Max Homa is on another hot run. Last year at this same point in the season, Homa was coming off a top 10 at the Farmers on his way to a sixth-place finish at this tournament. He went on to collect three more top 25’s over his next three starts as well.
Fast forward to this year, and Homa is coming off a t-21 at the American Express and a t-18 at the Farmers last week. Homa lives in Scottsdale and clearly likes playing in that area. I’ll be playing him this week, and assuming continued good play, the next couple weeks as the PGA Tour heads through his native southern California.
Homa is +335 to top 20 and is matched up against Jason Day (BetRivers), who admitted he is going through profound swing changes right now and missed the cut last week.
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