Ah, it's Super Bowl week which means two things.
One, the Super Bowl is this weekend. Two, golf is about to get weird.
The PGA Tour heads to TPC Scottsdale for the WM Phoenix Open, where the crowd noise is unrivaled. Golfers will have the test of a tough field and a good course but also need to overcome the energy of the spectators.
Let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
TPC Scottsdale Course Info & Key Stats
Distance: 7,261 (around 60 yards shorter than the average par 71)
Fairway Width: 31.4 yards (30th-narrowest of 80 qualified courses)
Average Green Size: 7,069 square feet (~118% of the PGA average)
Green Type: Poa/rye overseed
Past 5 Winning Scores: -16, -19, -17, -17, -18
Past 5 Cut Lines: -2, -3, -1, -1, -1
Key Stats (in Order of Importance): Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, Par 5 Scoring, Birdie or Better Rate, Adjusted Strokes Gained
Okay, so at TPC Scottsdale iron play is, statistically, less important than it is at the average PGA Tour course. That can be true while the following statement can still be true: approach play is still the most important of the strokes gained stats at this course.
We see a bigger emphasis placed on the driver, so gaining strokes off the tee is a must. While you can do it with power or accuracy, it's going to be hard to fend off the leaders if you are struggling with the disco stick. This does mean accurate drivers are in play, though.
Putting is vital any time a course requires a score in the sub-15-under range.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
The best strokes gained averages among golfers who have played at least twice here over the past five years:
- Justin Thomas (+2.36) - 8th, 13th, 3rd, 3rd, 17th
- Xander Schauffele (+2.31) - 3rd, 2nd, 16th, 10th, 17th
- Scottie Scheffler (+2.12) - 1st, 7th, MC, DNP, DNP
- Jon Rahm (+2.01) - 10th, 13th, 9th, 10th, 11th
- Alexander Noren (+1.67) - 6th, DNP, DNP, 44th, 21st
- Matt Kuchar (+1.61) - MC, 42nd, 16th, 4th, 5th
- Sungjae Im (+1.60) - DNP, 17th, 34th, 7th, DNP
- Hideki Matsuyama (+1.59) - 8th, 42nd, 16th, 15th, W/D
- Rickie Fowler (+1.58) - MC, MC, 37th, 1st, 11th
- Max Homa (+1.50) - 14th, 42nd, 6th, 26th, DNP
- Gary Woodland (+1.46) - MC, MC, 40th, 7th, 1st
- Mark Hubbard (+1.39) - DNP, 30th, 9th, DNP, DNP
- J.T. Poston (+1.38) - 23rd, 11th, 37th, 26th, DNP
- Webb Simpson (+1.36) - MC, 42nd, 1st, 20th, MC
- Chez Reavie (+1.32) - MC, MC, MC, 4th, 2nd
Past winners in the field include Scottie Scheffler (2022), Webb Simpson (2020), Rickie Fowler (2019), Gary Woodland (2018), Hideki Matsuyama (2016 and 2017), and J.B. Holmes (2006 and 2008).
Quite the list.
Win Simulations for the WM Phoenix Open
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their golf betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets for the WM Phoenix Open
Believe it or not, there is value on the two favorites. Rory McIlroy (+800) and Jon Rahm (+850) are slight values at their respective numbers, and Scottie Scheffler (+1300) is a fair option at 13/1 himself. This is really important for DFS lineups, by the way. That's a lot of win equity among three guys.
But as far as betting goes, I'm always fascinated by favorites with positive value because it's so rare. I'm most likely to bet Scheffler there because of the differential in odds.
Once again, my model likes Cameron Young (+2900) a bit (it thinks he should be +2800).
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the WM Phoenix Open
All stats cited below originate at datagolf and reference ranks relative to the field over the past 50 rounds. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Best of the Best
Rory McIlroy (FanDuel Salary: $11,900 | Golf betting odds: +800) - The real answer to the question of Rory or Jon Rahm is both. If I'm picking just one, I'm actually more than fine to lean more toward McIlroy due to the anticipated popularity gap between the two because of Rahm's heater. It's hard to believe, but Rory has been even better over the past 50 rounds (3.09 true strokes gained average versus 2.68 for Rahm). Rory was T13 here last year despite a neutral putter.
Tom Kim ($10,700 | +2800) - Tom Kim makes so much sense as a winner here. He can feed off the crowd, and he's just a great play otherwise. Accuracy off the tee is a big plus for TPC Scottsdale, and Kim ranks second in the field there over the past 50 rounds. He's also the best iron player in the field, and the putter can get hot enough to win. At the salary, he's a standout play even with superstars at the very top.
Others to Consider:
Xander Schauffele ($11,700 | +1400) - So much win equity can be had by pairing Rahm with McIlroy, but X is an elite pivot.
Sungjae Im ($10,800 | +2700) - Good form here; great putter and ball-striker. Love the salary.
Cameron Young ($10,500 | +2900) - Solo second at Saudi International; T26 here last year without his best irons, too.
Keegan Bradley ($9,800 | +6000) - I keep going back to Bradley, but the case is there week to week. He's a great ball striker (19th in the field), and the putting seems to be solid, as well (62nd). Bradley's balanced off the tee and has found success at TPC Scottsdale to the tune of five straight made cuts and 9 in 11 tries here over his career.
Tom Hoge ($9,300 | +9500) -Hoge has the irons (2nd) and accuracy (33rd) to get himself a lot of birdie chances this week. He's found success at TPC Scottsdale more often than not with three made cuts over the past four years, including a 14th-place finish a year ago. Hoge has also putted well on these greens, so if everything clicks, the upside is top-25 or better yet again.
Others to Consider:
Tyrrell Hatton ($10,000 | +5000) - Sort of an awkward salary but is hammering the ball off the tee lately.
Alexander Noren ($9,500 | +6500) - Has some of the best event form of anyone in the field; recent form has him fifth in short game.
Kyoung-Hoon Lee ($9,300 | +9500) - T2 and T28 here the past two years; 32nd in T2G play over the past 50 rounds.
Brian Harman ($9,000 | +10000) - Top-20 in strokes gained: tee to green, Harman sets up really well because his accuracy (21st) can be enough to get him into the top 15 again like he finished last year. Harman has good overall form at TPC Scottsdale, too. He's had a bit of a mixed start in 2023 (T16 at the Tournament of Champions [a small field], T32 at the Sony Open, and a missed cut at The American Express), yet he's the best value play of the week regardless.
Andrew Putnam ($8,800 | +12000) - The case is easy for Putnam as far as course fit goes. He's 2nd in the field in short game and is 20th in accuracy to mask ranking 120th in strokes gained: off the tee. He finished 7th here in 2021 but missed the cut in three of the past four years otherwise. Putnam was T4 at the Sony Open and T36 at The American Express before missing the cut at Pebble Beach last week. It's a great profile for a value salary.
Others to Consider:
Brendan Steele ($8,700 | +12000) - 5th-best ball-striker in the field at a course where ball-striking is key.
Adam Hadwin ($8,600 | +14000) - Irons (30th) and accuracy (32nd) are there -- plus the putting (27th).
Emiliano Grillo ($8,200 | +22000) - Top-30 ball-striker with slightly plus putting (50th).