A fan favourite kicks off tomorrow in Arizona. Yes, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is here again. Right around this time last year, the wheels were coming off for Tiger Woods. He shot an 82 on Friday and missed the cut on +13. The next week he withdrew from the Farmers’ Insurance at Torrey Pines, and we didn’t see him again until the Masters. Things when from bad to worse since then, and at the moment we don’t know when we’re going to see Tiger again.
Brooks Koepka went on to win last year on -15 ahead of a group of three players on -14 that included Bubba Watson, Hideki Matsuyama, and Ryan Palmer.
All of these players will be teeing it up at TPC Scottsdale this year, as will recent winner in the Middle East, Rickie Fowler (and his Back to the Future style shoes). Although Spieth, McIlroy, Day, Kaymer, and a few other big names are missing, it still makes for a pretty impressive field. As of Wednesday, the bookies have it priced up as follows:
Although Bubba hasn’t played much yet, the bookies typically like him at Scottsdale because it’s known as a bomber’s course. Even though it only comes in at a shade over 7200 yards, there are a couple of par 5s that the big drivers can really take advantage of and it’s shown in years gone by that the big hitters do well here.
Still, given Bubba’s lack of practice and how well Rickie Fowler has started the season off, it seems like there’s far more value in Fowler at 16/1. Brandt Snedeker is also at 16/1 but I think his win last week was a bit of a freak event and had a lot to do with the wild conditions at Torrey Pines.
One player who was going well until the weather turned for the worst last week was Irish invitee Paul Dunne. He’s been playing a lot since getting his European Tour card, and playing well. He’s been invited to Scottsdale this week and at 12/1 for a top 10 finish represents pretty good value.
I’m going to make two other picks; The first is Ian Poulter for a Top 10 finish at 6/1. He has been hitting his irons amazingly so far this year, hitting over 84% of greens in regulation and with calm conditions expected in Scottsdale this weekend I expect to see him putting a lot of balls close. The other pick is Martin Laird, also 6/1 for a Top 10 finish. He’s performed really well in Arizona in the past and is well up there in terms of driving distance.
So in summary these are my picks for the weekend:
Fowler to win at 16/1
Dunne Top 10 at 12/1
Poulter Top 10 at 6/1
Laird Top 10 at 6/1