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BlogWM Phoenix Preview and Picks

Waste Management Phoenix Open

February 2nd – 5th, 2017

TPC Scottsdale

Scottsdale, AZ

Par: 71 / Yardage: 7,266

Purse: $6.7 million

with $1,206,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Hideki Matsuyama

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

The field includes 44 of the top-100 players and 21 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with four players in the top-ten, #5 Hideki Matsuyama, #6 Jordan Spieth, #8 Justin Thomas and #9 Patrick Reed. The other top 50 players are #12 Bubba Watson, #14 Rickie Fowler, #18 Russell Knox, #19 Brooks Koepka, #20 Phil Mickelson, #21 Matt Kuchar, #27 Emiliano Grillo, #28 Ryan Moore, #29 Louis Oosthuizen, #32 J.B. Holmes, #34 Daniel Berger, #35 Kevin Chappell, #36 Scott Piercy, #38 Zach Johnson and #46 Jon Rahm.

Last year there was 19 top-50 players in the field

The field includes 20 of the top 25 on the FedEx point standings for 2017.  Those players are #1 Justin Thomas, #2 Hideki Matsuyama, #3 Pat Perez, #4 Brendan Steele, #5 Mackenzie Hughes, #6 Jon Rahm, #9 Rod Pampling, #10 Cody Gribble, #11 Russell Knox, #12 Gary Woodland, #13 Adam Hadwin, #15 Keegan Bradley, #16 Luke List, #17 Scott Piercy, #18 C.T. Pan, #19 Brian Harman, #20 Jordan Spieth, #21 Chez Reavie, #22 Daniel Berger and #25 Chris Kirk.

The field includes 20 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list.  Those players are #1 Justin Thomas, #2 Hideki Matsuyama, #3 Pat Perez, #4 Brendan Steele, #5 Jon Rahm, #6 Mackenzie Hughes, #8 Rod Pampling, #10 Cody Gribble, #11 Gary Woodland, #12 Russell Knox, #13 Daniel Berger, #14 Adam Hadwin, #15 Keegan Bradley, #17 Luke List, #18 Scott Piercy, #19 C.T. Pan, #21 Brooks Koepka, #22 Chris Kirk, #23 Jordan Spieth and #24 Bill Haas.

The field includes 8 past champions: Hideki Matsuyama (2016), Brooks Koepka (2015), Phil Mickelson (2013, ’05 & ’96), Kyle Stanley (2012), Mark Wilson (2011), Hunter Mahan (2010), J.B. Holmes (2008 & ’06) and Aaron Baddeley (2007).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the Phoenix Open field is our performance chart listed by average finish. Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the Phoenix Open in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the Phoenix Open .

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Player Farmers Insurance CareerBuilder Abu Dhabi Sony Open SBS T of C RSM Classic Mayakoba Shriners Hospitals WGC-HSBC Champions Sanderson Farms CIMB Classic Safeway Open
Justin Thomas
(289.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP Win
(44)
T8
(16.67)
Pat Perez
(208 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP T69
(0)
T3
(60)
DNP Win
(44)
T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP
Brendan Steele
(188.33 pts)
T20
(30)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP T31
(6.33)
DNP DNP T26
(8)
Win
(44)
Hideki Matsuyama
(184 pts)
T33
(17)
DNP DNP T27
(23)
2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Brian Harman
(175.67 pts)
T9
(45)
T3
(90)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T55
(0)
T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
Jon Rahm
(171.67 pts)
Win
(132)
T34
(16)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
T15
(11.67)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
Keegan Bradley
(154.33 pts)
T4
(80)
T25
(25)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP 6
(20)
T22
(9.33)
Tony Finau
(153.33 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP T20
(30)
T9
(30)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T41
(3)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
T26
(8)
Jordan Spieth
(150 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(90)
T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Chez Reavie
(132.67 pts)
DNP T12
(38)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
T22
(9.33)
Adam Hadwin
(128.33 pts)
T49
(1)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
T27
(7.67)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
Gary Woodland
(124.33 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T47
(1)
DNP T56
(0)
DNP
Luke List
(119.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
T41
(9)
DNP T13
(37)
DNP T13
(12.33)
T7
(18.33)
T15
(11.67)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T26
(8)
Russell Knox
(119.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(39)
T17
(22)
DNP 3
(30)
DNP T9
(15)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP
Mackenzie Hughes
(100.67 pts)
T54
(0)
DNP DNP T27
(23)
T25
(16.67)
Win
(44)
CUT
(-3.33)
T68
(0)
DNP T26
(8)
DNP T13
(12.33)
Sean O’Hair
(97.33 pts)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Jamie Lovemark
(95.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP T6
(20)
T35
(5)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
T20
(10)
C.T. Pan
(94.67 pts)
T2
(100)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T6
(20)
T46
(1.33)
T57
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Michael Kim
(93.33 pts)
T54
(0)
T21
(29)
DNP T20
(30)
DNP T27
(7.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(30)
Marc Leishman
(92 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP T20
(30)
DNP DNP T24
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP 5
(23.33)
DNP
Ryan Moore
(91.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP T15
(11.67)
T23
(9)
DNP T17
(11)
DNP
Scott Piercy
(87.67 pts)
DNP T41
(9)
DNP T57
(0)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
T24
(8.67)
T63
(0)
DNP T10
(13.33)
T3
(30)
Chris Kirk
(84 pts)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T7
(18.33)
T61
(0)
DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP T8
(16.67)
Kyle Stanley
(84 pts)
T14
(36)
DNP DNP T36
(14)
DNP T21
(9.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
T7
(18.33)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(9.33)
Patrick Rodgers
(83 pts)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T10
(13.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T21
(9.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
Cody Gribble
(83 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
T14
(24)
CUT
(-3.33)
T15
(11.67)
T65
(0)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T8
(16.67)
Phil Mickelson
(81.67 pts)
T14
(36)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Martin Laird
(81.67 pts)
T74
(0)
T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
T27
(7.67)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Lucas Glover
(80.67 pts)
T33
(17)
T41
(9)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP 3
(30)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Ollie Schniederjans
(78 pts)
T9
(45)
T58
(0)
DNP T27
(23)
DNP T6
(20)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Player Farmers Insurance CareerBuilder Abu Dhabi Sony Open SBS T of C RSM Classic Mayakoba Shriners Hospitals WGC-HSBC Champions Sanderson Farms CIMB Classic Safeway Open
Boo Weekley
(-43.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T60
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Spencer Levin
(-36.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T67
(0)
T66
(0)
T72
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
50
(0.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
Chad Collins
(-36.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Matt Every
(-33.33 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
J.J. Henry
(-30.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T60
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T42
(2.67)
DNP T67
(0)
Mark Hubbard
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP 79
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T71
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
Ricky Barnes
(-30 pts)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T56
(0)
T57
(0)
Wesley Bryan
(-27.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T42
(2.67)
T41
(3)
DNP DNP DNP T55
(0)
K.J. Choi
(-26.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP 74
(0)
DNP
Steve Marino
(-26 pts)
CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T28
(7.33)
T70
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

He’s back:

Justin Thomas is back after taking two weeks off.  After the Hawaiian wins he was back in Jupiter for some R&R.  Did spend a morning doing some media with Golf Channels Morning Drive host Gary Williams.  But most of the time he spent watching TV as he saw Hudson Swafford win the CareerBuilders Challenge, drove up to Miami for the Miami Heat, Golden State Warrior basketball game.  Spent more time watching tennis and the Australian Open on his couch along with watching the Farmers.  Flew out to Phoenix a bit early and did a clinic on Monday.  The good part was he was able to get away from the rigors of golf as he now gets ready to play this week, take the AT&T off and then go four straight between the Genesis, Honda, Mexico and Valspar.  The big question will now be, has he lost his touch in the two weeks off, will his game be as sharp as it was for the SBS Tournament of Champions and the Sony Open?  That’s a very fair question that we all have to answer, Thomas is now considered a much different player.  There will be more spotlight fixed on him, even to the point that he is being thought as one of the favorites for the Masters.  In the Waste Management Phoenix Open Thomas finished T-17th in 2015 and missed the cut last year, so the question will be if he can master TPC Scottsdale like he masters the Plantation Course at Kapalua and Waialae C.C

Can Matsuyama get hot again?

For Hideki Matsuyama the end of 2016 and the start couldn’t of been better.  In a span of seven weeks he won four times at the Japan Open, WGC-HSBC Champions, Taiheiyo Masters and Hero World Challenge.  After three weeks off he was 2nd at the SBS Tournament of Champions, before finishing T-27th at the Sony Open.  After a week off he returned to Torrey Pines and finished T-33rd.  Now pure speculation on my part feels that Matsuyama’s game may not be suited to play at Waialae and Torrey Pines, but is very suited to play at TPC Scottsdale.  In three starts in Phoenix, he has a T-4th, T-2nd and win, playing each event in 14 under par.  Over 216 holes of golf in Phoenix, he has made 59 birdies and one eagle and only 17 bogeys and one double.  His forte at TPC Scottsdale is hitting lots of greens, over the 216 holes played he only has missed 53 of them so he has hit about 75% of them.  So even with the poor finish last week in Torrey I wouldn’t worry about Matsuyama who should be among the leaders going into Sunday.

Sub-60 watch

Even thought to the average player that knows the TPC Scottsdale is a tough layout, for those on the PGA Tour with great weather and no wind the course could be nothing but a birdie and eagle feast.  With great weather predicted for all four days and hardly a breath of wind the chances are very good that a 59 or even a 58 could be shot.  Over the course of 72 holes, the PGA Tour low has come close to be broken with Mark Calcavecchia shooting 256 in 2001 and Phil Mickelson shooting the same in 2013.  In both cases Calcavecchia and Mickelson shot 60 (Their have been four 60s shot) with Mickelson coming the nearest as a birdie putt lipped out for 59 on his final hole.  So I would say this, don’t be surprised to see the sub-60 barrier broken again, matter of fact I can think of about a dozen other courses during the year in which this will pop up.  In a way people love to see it happen, but if it becomes the norm the PGA Tour may have to do something or ask the courses to do something to prevent this from being more the norm.

Back to Phoenix

The Tour returns to Phoenix and one of the biggest parties of the year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  It may be SuperBowl week with the big game being played in Houston, but they still will pack them in to watch golf.  Last year 618,365 went through the turnstiles setting the record for the biggest attendance in the tournament history.  All told three attendance records were broken in 2016 — the weekly attendance mark, plus record crowds on Friday (160,415) and Saturday (201,003).

So it’s reputation as the biggest party of the year for the PGA Tour continues.  It seems that they just pack it in either finding their way to the big pavilion which has become the mainstay of this event or the 16th hole, golf’s version of the Roman Coliseum.  The 16th hole could be the wackiest place on the PGA Tour.  A combination of true golf fans wanting to see some great golf along with a lot of others that wear out their arms hoisting their favorite adult beverage.  The hole is completely surrounded by bleachers and hospitality tents, giving it that gladiator feel to it.

Injury reports:

We still don’t know much about the status of Rory McIlroy, other than he wasn’t playing in Dubai and still plans to play in the Genesis Open.  Two players coming back this week from mild injuries is Smylie Kaufman (rib problem) and Si Woo Kim (undisclosed).  Still we don’t know much about Brian Davis back problems, he hasn’t been seen since the FedEx St. Jude Classic and no real comeback has been discussed, so it could be a while before he comes back.  Talking about players talking a while off, it was only three years ago when Kevin Stadler won the 2014 Phoenix Open.  With the victory the thought would be that after the first win, the second, third and other victories would come easier.  But after breaking a bone in his left hand Stadler hasn’t playe professionally since the 2015 John Deere, 75 weeks ago.  Still no word as time will make it even tougher for the 37 year old.

WM Phoenix Open history: It began in 1932 as the Arizona Open and has been played at the TPC of Scottsdale, since 1987.  After the first two years, the event took the name, Phoenix Open in 1935. The only older tournaments on the PGA Tour are; the British Open (1860), U.S. Open (1895), Western Open (1899), Canadian Open (1904), PGA Championship (1916), Texas Open (1922) and the Nissan Open (1926).

Due to lack of local support, the tournament was discontinued after 1935. The tournament was revived thanks to the energy and vision of one man, Bob Goldwater, Sr. who was an avid golfer.  So in 1939, Goldwater’s new fledgling golf tournament was the official rebirth of the Phoenix Open. Goldwater was left with most of the work, he printed the tickets, sold sponsorships and obtained the use of Phoenix Country Club. He even invited a few of his friends to tee it up at the tournament. Those friends just happened to be Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and a golfer by the name of Ben Hogan. “I loved those early years,” said Goldwater. “I look back on those days with a sense of pride mixed with wonderment.” And, yes, after a few more persuasive talks and the success of the 1939 Phoenix Open, The Thunderbirds came around and lent their full support. During that 1939 tournament, a 27-year-old up-and-comer named Byron Nelson won the $700 first prize. Hogan finished second, 12 strokes back, and collected $450. Since then, The Thunderbirds had been a part of the event every year except 1943, when wartime travel restrictions forced a one-year hiatus. The list of professional golfers who have won in Phoenix reads like the golf Hall of Fame: Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Billy Casper, Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Miller Barber, Johnny Miller, Ben Crenshaw, and more recently Lee Janzen, Vijay Singh, Phil Mickelson, Tom Lehman, Mark Calcavecchia and Kenny Perry just to name a few. Over the tournament’s 77 year history, the Open has been known by many names, including the Western Open, the Arizona Open, the Ben Hogan Invitational, the Phoenix Open, the FBR Open and now the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The tournament has been played at Phoenix Country Club, Arizona Country Club and the TPC Scottsdale, which has been the home course of the tournament since 1987. 2015 will mark the 29th consecutive year the tournament has been played at the Stadium Course at the TPC Scottsdale, and it has had a renovation to spruce it up and make it more challenging for the players. Thanks to the most fan-friendly tournament venue on Tour, it attracts the largest galleries of any golf tournament in the world. In fact, compared to the days when the tournament was held at Phoenix Country Club, and the top attendance mark was 186,000 (1986), the event has grown by leaps and bounds. At the 2008 FBR Open, a PGA Tour record 538,356 fans attended the tournament, including 170,802 during Saturday’s third round alone. 2008′s Saturday attendance used to be a single-day PGA Tour record until 2013 when 179,022 fans came out for the third round. The 2016 event set a new attendance record when 618,365 fans came out.  So who knows what is in store for this week, if the weather is perfect we can see a new attendance record set.  Also in 2015 Waste Management made a commitment to sponsor the event to at least 2025, so there are a lot of years to break the attendance record.

 

  • Course information:
  • Played at TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Az.
  • Par:  71 / Yardage: 7,261
  • In 2016, the course was T-20th hardest course on the PGA Tour  playing to a 71.03 average.
  • The TPC of Scottsdale was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, with Howard Twitty and Jim Colbert serving as player consultants.  The course opened in 1986 and had some interesting features like desert between the holes and fairways with many plants from the surrounding area. The layout also features mounding for spectators. The course can easily accommodate over 100,000 spectators, last year 159,906 showed up for Saturday’s third round.  The average green size is 6,770 square feet, which is a little over the average on the PGA Tour. The course has 72 bunkers and six water hazards.
  • Surrounded by spectacular mountain views, the course was designed specifically to host the Phoenix Open, and the aforementioned mounding promises an excellent view to all of the  the 500,000+ in the galleries. Hole No. 16 will always be remembered as the site of Tiger Woods’ hole in one in 1998. Hole No. 17 will be remembered for the first and only hole in one on a par four during a PGA Tour event, which was recorded by Andrew Magee in 2001.
  • Major renovations were done before last years event with four greens completely rebuilt while the other 14 resurfaced and reshaped.  45 yards was added, but three holes will play slightly shorter.  Every bunker was redone, in most cases bringing them more into play.  Also, 250 trees were added so the combination of trees and bunkers coming into play off the tee will make the course slightly tighter.  Despite the change, average scores may be a bit higher but look for the winning score, which has averaged 22 and a half under par for the last 19 years to stay the same.

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing on the TPC Scottsdale course:

This is based on the most important stats for TPC Scottsdale, based on data from last years Waste Management Phoenix Open, and using data from all the players in the field for with stats from 2016 and 2017 and taking the rank for each players years.

The scoring average of the field on TPC Scottsdale in 2016 was 71.03, so with par being 71 that means the average score was just around par, making the course T-20th hardest course to score on in 2016.

In looking at the stats for TPC Scottsdale last year, driving and greens hit is important. With fast fairways, the course ranked 34th in driving distance and 15th in driving accuracy. Also hitting greens was important, the course ranked 16th in greens in regulation Last year’s winner Hideki Matsuyama was 35th in driving distance, T-44th in Driving accuracy and 1st in Greens in Regulation. Now add this all together and he was 10th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. In proximity to Hole, Matsuyama was T-6th while in scrambling he was 16th. He was T-2nd in Par Breakers, it did help that he was T-2nd in birdies.

So here is our four choices for the most important stats for players to do well at TPC Scottsdale:

*Strokes gained tee-to-Greens: Important because it shows how TPC Scottsdale ranked T-19th in this stat, meaning that a combination of driving distance, driving accuracy and greens hit is important

*Proximity to hole: Hitting greens is important, last year TPC Scottsdale ranked 16th, but in proximity to hole, which tells how close players get to the hole, TPC Scottsdale ranked 2nd as the players averaged getting it 41 feet and 5 inches.

*Par Breakers: Desert courses always seem to give up a lot of birdies and eagles, last year TPC Scottsdale ranked 20th in that stat

*Scrambling: Of the 50 courses on tour in 2015, TPC Scottsdale got it up and down 58.47% of the time, meaning that it ranked 23rd. So it’s important for players to make sure to get it up and down on those holes that they miss the greens.

Below is the average of positions on stats from 2016 & ’17 PGA Tour statistics

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is a link to all of the stats for all players in the field this week:

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the Waste Management Phoenix Open:

Key stat for the winner:

  • It use to be the player with the hot putter dominated this tournament as between 1997 and 2007 all the champions except for one (2003 Vijay Singh) were in the top-nine in putting.  On the reverse, between 1997 and 2008 of the 12 champions only three were in the top-ten of greens hit.  Since 2008 of the nine winners, two were 10th in putting as the winners ranked between 10th and 71st in putting.  But in that same period, all the champions were in the top-4 of greens hit (the worst was Kevin Stadler, who ranked 10th) while four of the winners in those seven years led the stat (Matsuyama led last year).  Major change came about to the course in 2004 and then in 2005, so it just took a bit before hitting lot’s of greens took over.  Overall the TPC Scottsdale ranked 16th of all the courses in 2016 in greens in regulation so it’s very important to hit all of the greens.
  • Another key is to follow each one of our key stats.  Each week brings on a different course with different conditions and different ways for players to embrace the course.  Probably because the WM Phoenix Open always gets great weather, you will see each of our key stats materialize over the course of week’s play as this course and event is becoming easier to judge who will play good and who will not.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

  • One unimportant stat:  The course is in the desert and in past years had the longest driving average.  in 2014 the average drive was 301.4, but in 2015 it went down to 288.5 probably because of the changes made to the course before the 2015 tournament.  Last year the course averaged 294.8 as it ranked 34th on the PGA Tour  So common sense would be that the winners are big hitters, that isn’t the case.  Since 1997, only four of the last 20 champions have been in the top-ten of the weekly driving distance stat with eight of them out of the top-25.  Last year Matsuyama was 35th in driving distance  So hitting it long really doesn’t help in winning this tournament.
  • Ten of the last 20 champions have had a Top-10 finish within three weeks before they won the championship, so look for someone that is playing well to win.  In 2009 Kenny Perry finished T6th at Kapalua just three weeks before the Phoenix Open, but Hunter Mahan was not playing well leading up to the 2010 event.  In 2011 Mark Wilson won just two weeks before the event at the Sony Open in Hawaii amd in 2012 Kyle Stanley lost a playoff the week before winning at Phoenix.  Unfortunately that trend ended as the last three winners didn’t play well before winning.  In 2015 Brooks Koepka was playing his first event in six weeks, taking some time off so the time off was perfect for him.  Last year Hideki Matsuyama finished 2nd in the SBS Tournament of Champions along with his four wins in the last three months.
  • Players can’t be afraid of a lot of people watching, considering as many as 100,000 will be in attendance over the weekend.
  • Players must hit lots of greens and make lots of birdies. In the last 20 years the winners have averaged hitting 74.9% of the greens and averaged 22.1 birdies for the week.
  • One last important fact is that birdies have to be made on par 4s.  This is one of those events in which scoring is lower on the par 4s than the par 5s.  Since 1997, 13  of the 20 champions have done better, in 2015 Brooks Koepka played the par 5s in just 2 under par while he was 11 under on the par 4s.  Last year Matsuyama played the par 5s in 6 under while he was 9 under on the par 4s.
  • After a great two weeks weather-wise in San Diego and La Quinta, the great weather will will continue as conditions couldn’t be any better in Scottsdale with everyday being in the mid-70s, no rain and very little wind.

Who to watch for at the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Best Bets:

Justin Thomas

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T17

I think that he will be able to pick up were he left behind and play very well this week, so well that he will win again.

Hideki Matsuyama

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
Win T2 T4

The guy has played 12 rounds at TPC Scottsdale in 42 under par, he seems to own this course.

Jon Rahm

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T5

Look for the great play continuing as he seems to love playing this course and returning to the community that he played college golf in.

Best of the rest:

Phil Mickelson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T11 CUT T42 Win T26 T29 T24 CUT 2 CUT T7 Win

Seems to be coming around at the right time on a course he really likes to play well on.

J.B. Holmes

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T6 T66 T58 CUT T45 T5 T43 CUT Win CUT Win

Game is suited for this course, didn’t play that bad in San Diego last week.

Jordan Spieth

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T7

Played well in the only time he has played in this event, have to think he is ready to win again.

Brendan Steele

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T17 T26 T6 T6 T5 T53

Showing lot’s of promise this year and coming to a place he has good memories on.

Brooks Koepka

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T41 Win

Was rusty in San Diego, look for the heat of the desert to burn out the rust.

Solid contenders

Rickie Fowler

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
2 T46 CUT CUT T26 T13 2 T58

He is the type of player that could be knocking on the door when you least expect it.

Pat Perez

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT T26 11 DQ T19 T22 T24 T48 T43 CUT CUT CUT

Would love to win at home, he is playing great finishing T-4th last week in San Diego.

Brian Harmon

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Has been on a roll of late finishing T-9th at the Farmers and T-3rd at the CareerBuilders.

Harris English

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
3 T40 9 T57 T15

Game showed some promise in San Diego, has played well in this event including last year.

Bubba Watson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T14 T2 T2 15 T5 T29 T36 T25 CUT T8

Seems to always play well at TPC Scottsdale, in 38 rounds played on this course as only been over par once as he is 101 under par in his ten Phoenix starts.

Long shots that could come through:

Keegan Bradley

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T24 T17 CUT T24 T15

Has been knocking on the door of late with his T-4th finish in San Diego.

Gary Woodland

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T33 CUT T37 T16 T26 T5 T60

Has the length but his iron play has to be sharp, he has shown that he can hit greens as he is 26th in Greens in Regulation for 2017

Adam Hadwin

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T17 CUT

Has played well the last two weeks, does he have some more in the tank to continue the good play.

Chez Reavie

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
CUT CUT T45 T41 CUT CUT T58 CUT

Has played well of late.

Comments

  1. Sal- What are your thoughts on Roberto Castro? $6900 on DK this week after T-28 leading field in GIR @ Torrey.

  2. Mark,
    Castro at $6,900 is a really good buy, he hasn’t done anything spectacular this year and his finishes in past Phoenix Opens is ok. You are right, he did lead in GIR at Torrey.
    Castro isn’t going to win, but could get a top-ten which is worth the money spent.

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