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WM Phoenix Open Betting Preview
The first full-field designated event of the season is here, and golfers will compete in the highest-attended event in golf -- the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale.
A star-studded field that includes 22 of the top 25 players in the Official World Golf Ranking is headlined by favorite Jon Rahm, who checks in with 15-2 odds.
Last year, Scottie Scheffler -- at 28-1 -- picked up his first Tour victory in a playoff over Patrick Cantlay.
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Par 71, 7,261 yards
Average Strokes Gained Rankings: WM Phoenix Open Winners Since 2018
- SG: Off-the-Tee: 12.8
- SG: Approach: 16.4
- SG: Around-the-Green: 50.8
- SG: Putting: 11.8
- SG: Tee-to-Green: 7.6
- Driving Distance: 24.4
- Driving Accuracy: 22.0
The closing stretch of holes brings plenty of excitement to an already electric atmosphere with the reachable in two par-5 15th hole, the stadium par-3 16th, a driveable par-4 that brings water in play and the par-4 18th with water and church pew bunkers lurking. Driving play tends to play a key factor here in helping determine the winner, especially on the back-nine. In addition to the closing stretch the requires precise drives on 17 and 18, there are four par-4s that are over 470 yards. In addition to targeting elite drivers, I'll also look towards strong iron players - especially those from 125-175 yards with many approaches coming in that range.
These players have the lowest scoring average at TPC Scottsdale over the last five years.
- Justin Thomas: 67.8
- Scottie Scheffler: 67.8
- Xander Schauffele: 67.8
- Matt Kuchar: 68.5
- Nate Lashley: 68.6
Thomas tops the course history angle this week and it's easy to see why with five consecutive top-20 finishes here. He's done it with elite iron play, ranking inside the top-5 in Strokes Gained: Approach three times during that stretch. The main question mark for Thomas (22-1 odds) is his current form as he hasn't had his best golf since the summer and has a best finish of T-25 this season. Also with five straight top-20 finishes here is Schauffele, who has come up one shot short in each of the last two years. The oddsmakers are giving him plenty of respect as a result as the fourth choice on the board at 14-1 odds. Schauffele has put to rest any injury concerns after withdrawing from the first event of the season with back-to-back top-15 results.
The following five golfers, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes off the tee over their last 20 rounds.
- Jon Rahm: 0.93
- Scottie Scheffler: 0.87
- Rory McIlroy: 0.84
- Hayden Buckley: 0.82
- Keith Mitchell: 0.81
Tournament favorite Rahm leads the tour in the category early in the season and his all-around game has been on full display as he ranks 42nd or better in every strokes gained category. He's battling with McIlroy in the debate over who is the best player in the world -- amazingly, Rahm has won four of his last seven tournaments while McIlroy has finished no worse than T4 in his last seven. Another player on this list in good form is Mitchell, who is listed at 70-1 and is coming off a top-5 finish in Pebble Beach. He posted his first top-10 in four starts at this event last year as he ranked fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green. Mitchell is certainly someone to keep an eye on at places that prioritize driving play.
Patrick Cantlay (18-1)
Cantlay made his debut here last year and showed great form in his playoff loss, and he already has a T2 finish over three starts this season so I think the number here is too high. The public agrees, as Cantlay was listed at 20-1 when the research began. Cantlay often plays his best golf during the West Coast Swing.
Tom Kim (28-1)
Kim seems to thrive when the lights are the brightest like we saw at the Presidents Cup, so I see no reason to shy away from him even in his Phoenix Open debut. He continues to trend upward with top-10 finishes in 2-of-3 events to start the season, and I can't pass him up at this number.
Taylor Montgomery (50-1)
Montgomery has been the star of this rookie class early this season, making the cut in all 10 of his appearances and notching eight top-15 finishes. He has been carried by his driver and short game, as he ranks 39th in SG: Off-the-Tee and is gaining 1.4 shots per round around the greens and with his putter. He's going to get the job done eventually given how often he's in contention, and the public likes him too, as he was listed at 60-1 at one point.
Shane Lowry (5-1)
Lowry is making his first trip back to Phoenix since 2018, where he has results of T6, T16 and T65 in three starts. He's an easy player to overlook as he's played in just one PGA Tour event this season, but his first U.S. start last year was a runner-up finish. He also won the BMW PGA Championship this fall.
Tommy Fleetwood (13-2)
After starting the year on the DP World Tour, Fleetwood heads back stateside after posting a top-5 finish at the CJ Cup in his last official PGA Tour start. He'll be making his first trip to TPC Scottsdale and there's little reason to think he shouldn't play well here with his solid all-around game.
K.H. Lee (8-1)
Lee started off the year well with a T7 finish at the Tournament of Champions for his second top-10 of the season in seven starts. He finished runner-up here in 2021 and is playing much better now than two years ago, making this one of the better values on the betting board.
Brian Harman (-110) over Alex Noren
Harman has had a slow start to the year after a strong fall, and I expect him to right the ship as he's coming off his best finish at this event last year with a T14. Noren has been playing well overseas but has struggled to consistently bring that success to the PGA Tour, where he has just one top-35 finish over his last seven starts.
Chris Kirk (-120) over Scott Stallings
Whatever changes Kirk made during the winter break have worked wonders as he's coming off consecutive top-5 finishes to start the year and has been in great form with his irons. I like this matchup as a slight favorite over Stallings, who has only made 3-of-9 cuts at the event with a best finish of T21.
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