PGA Tour: The Waste Management Phoenix Open

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The PGA TOUR moves from California to Arizona for this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. The Waste Management is typically one of the most unique golf tournaments because of the fans, particularly at No. 16 par 3 that is surrounded by stadium-style grandstands and is unlike all others on the PGA Tour. Simply put, it’s lots of fun … when fans are in attendance in full force.This year tournament officials say they will permit only 5,000 fans per day to attend and that venues around holes, including No. 16, will be scaled down dramatically.

So in the year of 2021 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage, this entertaining tournament obviously will not the be the same as it has been in years past. Not to worry too much, though, because the golf here typically provides a great deal of excitement on its own, with last year’s tournament being decided in a playoff in which Webb Simpson defeated Tony Finau. (All listed odds courtesy of Bovada unless otherwise noted).

Course Breakdown and Weather
TPC Scottsdale is a 7,266-yard, par-71 golf course with a relatively easy makeup. The winning score is typically 16-under par or better. Although the course is very receptive to low scores, the last four holes usually produce lots of excitement with water in play on the reachable par 5 at No. 15, a driveable par 4 at No 17 and a very difficult closing hole at No. 18.

Of course, No. 16 usually is the hole that provides the most of everything: highlights, lowlights and pure entertainment. The par 3 surrounded by stadium-style seating grandstands (although the patrons usually seem to be standing with cold beverages in hand) is difficult for some golfers to handle with all the heckling and noise a packed house usually makes.

This year, of course, that doesn’t figure to be an issue and it will play basically like any other par 3. In general, TPC Scottsdale is a venue where great iron players tend to thrive, making the ability to produce accurate approach shots a requirement to bet on a golfer this week

The Favorites

The favorite this week is once again Jon Rahm (+650), followed by Justin Thomas (+800), Xander Schauffele (+1000), Rory Mcllroy (+1100) and defending champion Webb Simpson (+1400).

The first golfer to bet this week is Mcllroy at +1100.

Although he did not play well on the weekend at Torrey Pines last week, there were some notable bright spots for McIlroy in his first start of the PGA season as he ended up finishing tied for 16th. He has never played the Waste Management Open, and when asked why he was playing this week he told CBS, “I’ve heard the golf course should suit my style of play.” Indeed, it should. McIlroy has not won in his last 21 PGA Tour events, but this feels like a good time for him to get back in the winner’s circle.

While McIlroy offers the most value to win, Schauffele to finish top ten has lots of value as well. Schauffele collected his 14th consecutive top-25 finish last week, with seven of those also being inside the top ten. He does not have a PGA Tour win since the 2019 Sentry TOC, so betting on him at 10-1 odds offers little value. Take Schauffele to finish inside the top ten at a course where he has finished no worse than tied for 17th in three previous trips.

The Pick: Rory Mcllroy (+1100); Xander Schauffele Top 10 (-115)

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Best Value Plays

Plenty of big names sit in the middle tier range of the odds board, such as Brooks Koepka (+4000) and Matthew Wolff (+4500). But the guy to take in this range is Rickie Fowler (+4500). Fowler won this event back in 2019 and although he faded on the weekend at Torrey Pines and finished tied for 53rd, he collected a solid T21 the week prior at the American Express. His game, which has gone backward since he tried to implement some changes in the last six or eight months, finally seems to be coming back around and this is a place he likes where he has enjoyed past success. This layout has proven to be kindly to great iron players in the past, and as much as the other areas of Rickie’s game have been inconsistent in recent months, he is still a phenomenal iron player. Fowler has not won on the Tour since that tournament in 2019, so maybe he will find the magic he left behind that year at TPC Scottsdale.

The next name down the list that pops out is Sam Burns at +6600. The 2016-2017 College Golfer of the Year has already collected eight top-10 finishes in his short time on the tour and has the golf game to pick up his first win this weekend. Burns has two career starts in this event. Each time he broke par in his opening round and followed it up with a second round 74. Burns has gained valuable experience on the tour over his first couple years and one of these weeks he will put it altogether. This could be the week and at +6600 he could make some bettors very, very happy.

The Picks: Rickie Fowler (+4500); Sam Burns (+6600)

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The Longshots

The first name that jumps all the way down the board is Henrik Norlander (+10000). Norlander finished tied for second a week ago at Torrey Pines. The only reason he could possibly be at such long odds is because this is his first time ever playing in this event. Norlander excels with his irons in hand, making this course a decent fit for him.

Please Note:
As with many golfers at these odds, Norlander is not nearly as great with the putter in his hands. However, anyone can get hot with the putter for a couple of days, and if it is Henrik Norlander, he very well might win this tournament.

The next longshot worth a play is Dylan Fritelli (+12500), Fritelli finished tied for 53rd last week in the Farmers Insurance Open in his first event since finishing tied for fifth at the Masters. Torrey Pines is a very difficult place to open your season at, so it is safe to expect Fritelli to be more comfortable throughout the week. Fritelli ended last year playing the best golf of his career and if that has carried over, you are getting a very good golfer at 125-1 odds.

The Picks: Henrik Norlander (+10000); Dylan Fritelli (+12500)

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Matchup Plays

Last year, Webb Simpson rode his iron play and approach game to victory, leading the entire tournament in strokes gained on approach shots. According to PGATOUR.com, if you measured every golfer’s last 24 rounds, Russell Henley would rank first on tour in this category. Henley missed the cut at the American Express, but he collected a T11 the week prior at the Sony Open. Billy Horschel ranks 97th on Tour in Greens in Regulation percentage, while Henley ranks 16th.

Take Russell Henley to capitalize on more birdie opportunities and win his head-to-head tournament matchup with Billy Horschel.

The next head-to-head that is appealing is Brendon Todd over Jordan Spieth. This one is too simple. Bookmakers are banking on people taking the familiar name of Jordan Spieth to beat someone the common golf fan might not know of. Well, not only did Brendon Todd win two tournaments last season, but he has started this season making 7-of-9 cuts, which might be enough to win this matchup against an inconsistent golfer such as Spieth in his current muddled state. Todd finished in the top 25 in 44 percent of tournaments he played in last season. Speith has missed the cut in 4-of-7 tournaments he has played so far this season.

The Picks: Russell Henley over Billy Horschel (-110) and Brendon Todd over Jordan Speith (-120)

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Joe Menzer / Author

Joe is an award-winning writer and editor who has covered the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, golf, various collegiate athletics and other sports for newspapers, Turner Sports, Fox Sports and ESPN. He has been on the beat for seven Super Bowls, six Daytona 500s and numerous NBA playoff series and All-Star Games. He once was dispatched to Rome, Italy to spend time with an NBA draft choice who opted to play overseas, after which he produced an award-winning series of stories. He also is passionate about fantasy sports and breaking down games in ways that even novice gamblers can use to make their most intelligent wagering decisions.