Four TPC Scottsdale WM Phoenix Open 2023 picks

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WM Betting Tips: Four picks for ! Our new star golf tipster Jamie Worsley had a decent start on the PGA Tour last week, when Brendan Todd finished runner-up and picked up a full place at 70/1. Now we head for the rowdiest event on tour at TPC Scottsdale for the WM Phoenix Open.

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WM Phoenix Open Tips

Due to poor weather conditions in Pebble Beach last week, the PGA Tour concluded on Monday. Brendon Todd’s birdie on his first hole after the restart brought him to within one stroke of Justin Rose, who was in second place at the start of the final round at odds of 70/1.

Unfortunately, Rose was unmovable, sinking two lengthy birdie putts on his first three holes and never appearing to relinquish the lead thereafter. Allowing the former world number one and US Open champion to win his first tournament since the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open.

This week, the West Coast swing deviates from California to Arizona for at TPC Scottsdale. An event that attracts an exceptional field – the best of the year so far.

Tournament History

Since 1987, TPC Scottsdale has hosted this 1932 tournament.

After the tournament moved to Scottsdale in 1987, Mark Calcavecchia and Phil Mickelson joined Arnold Palmer and Gene Littler as triple champions.

Calcavecchia and Mickelson tied for the lowest Phoenix Open score, 28-under-par (Calcavecchia in 2001 and Mickelson in 2013). Since Mickelson’s 2013 win, the winning score has averaged -16.5. Renovations made the course harder.

Scottie Scheffler returns to the site of his first PGA Tour win, where he defeated Patrick Cantlay in a playoff after both players finished 72 holes at -16. Scheffler won the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC Matchplay in March before dominating the Masters and rising to the top of the world rankings.

Scheffler, JB Holmes, Hideki Matsuyama, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, and Webb Simpson are all two-time champions in this week’s field.

Players must also deal with a rowdy crowd. This mental challenge requires more than a good game. Eight of the last ten winners are major champions, as expected.

The Course

The TPC Scottsdale stadium course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrison and completed in 1986. This par-71, 7261-yard desert course begins rather humdrum on the front nine, but really comes into its own on the back, especially on the thrilling and dramatic closing holes.

There is the 15th, a par 5 that is dominated by water running up the entire left hand side of the hole and lurking in front of the green; the amphitheatre of the par 3 16th, the most famous hole on the course; the drivable par 4 17th, hit the long green to give yourself a chance for eagle but stray too far left and you’ll find water; and finally, the par 4 18th, which requires you to hit a drive over

It is a difficult driving course, with undulating, largely doglegged fairways that are relatively narrow, and although the rough isn’t penal, danger lurks in the form of cunning bunkering, water (especially on the closing holes), and sandy waste areas.

Despite being large and easy to hit, the greens, which now appear to be dominated by poa trivialis as opposed to bermudagrass, have ranked in the top five on the PGA Tour over the past four years in terms of putting difficulty and are also difficult to scramble around.

A location where strong ball-strikers typically fare well, but where a good week with the putter appears to be an equally crucial requirement for success.

The Stats

Winners Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Gary Woodland, and Hideki Matsuyama have great ball-striking.

Powerful, long driving and excellent putting dominated the 2022 leaderboard. Patrick Cantlay was sixth on the greens, thirteenth off the tee, and ninth in driving distance, while Scottie Scheffler was fourth in driving distance and second in putting.

Third-placed Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele are OTT seventh. Koepka and Schauffele’s putting combined for a good week. Sahith Theegala, the other third-place finisher, ranks seventh with a solid all-around game but focuses on putting.

Brooks Koepka won the 2021 PGA Championship with his second-ranked approach. Xander Schauffele finished second overall and in driving distance. He placed fourth in greens. In irons, Jordan Spieth is first and Steve Stricker eighth. Five of the six had top-18 greens and top-26 driving distances.

Webb Simpson’s first-ranked approach irons did most of his best work in 2020, when he won a power-packed leaderboard. Tony Finau was sixth in approach, while Bubba Watson, a driver player, was seventh. All five top players are top 20 in putting and approach.

2019 shows the crucial factor again. Rickie Fowler finished third and first in putting. Branden Grace, who finished second, ranked seventh in approach, while Justin Thomas, who finished third, ranked second. Bubba Watson again finished first OTT, but he improved his approach to finish seventh.

The tour’s longest hitters play this course, which requires drivers. Drive it well, not just long.

Irons will be crucial since five of the last eight holes are ranked first in par 4 scoring and the course has eleven par 4s.

Key Stats: SG: Off-the-Tee, Driving Distance, SG: Approach, Proximity 150-175 yards, SG: Putting, Par 4 Scoring 

Correlating Events

Shriners Open (TPC Summerlin) 

Another desert course with big greens, where players can let go with driver and where scrambling is of a similar level of difficulty. The Shriners can offer significant clues as to potential champions this week. 

Webb Simpson is a winner of both events, whilst Martin Laird and Sungjae Im back up strong records here with wins in the Shriners. Patrick Cantlay finished 2nd on his debut in Phoenix last year and has a win – along with multiple 2nds – at the Shriners, Brooks Koepka is a past winner here and has finished 2nd there; James Hahn and Harris English amongst those with strong form at both. 

Sony Open (Waialae CC) 

The Sony Open at Waialae in Hawaii wouldn’t be the most obvious comp but I found as much correlating form here as anywhere and it ranks close to TPC Scottsdale in terms of driving accuracy, GIR and scrambling. Whilst also having a similar breakdown in average approach distance around the course. 

Hideki Matsuyama, Mark Wilson and Vijay Singh have all won at both, with other past champions, Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland possessing several top 10s in the Sony. Brendan Steele has multiple top 10s here and has finished 2nd there; players such as Chez Reavie, Graham DeLaet and Ollie Schniederjans possessing form across both. 

Houston Open (Memorial Park) 

Memorial Park has only hosted the Houston Open since 2020 but with the strong ball-striking test it serves up, along with it’s tough, firm greens, it has developed some strong form-ties with TPC Scottsdale. 

Hideki Matsuyama and Scottie Scheffler have both finished 2nd in Houston, whilst Brooks Koepka finished 5th there in 2020. Carlos Ortiz – the winner in 2020 – has a 4th place finish to his name in Phoenix; last year’s winner, Tony Finau has finished 2nd in here; Alex Noren, Adam Hadwin and Patton Kizzire with some decent crossover form. 

Mexico Championship (Club de Golf Chapultepec) 

The WGC Mexico Championship was held at Chapultepec from 2017-2020. It ranks very close to TPC Scottsdale statistically; from percentage of fairways hit; to scrambling difficulty; to putting average on the difficult poa greens.  

Similarly to when I mentioned this course last week, form-ties aren’t abundant due to the nature of the type of field that gets into these events but players such as Alex Noren, Billy Horschel, Patton Kizzire and Adam Hadwin have form at both courses. 

The Weather

Nothing of note in the weather at this point. It’s set to be warm and dry, with just a mild breeze throughout the week. Ideal golfing conditions.  

The Field

We have a mouth-wateringly exciting field heading to the desert in Arizona this week. World #1 Rory McIlroy leads the way, joined by #2 Scottie Scheffler and #3 Jon Rahm.  

A further five of the world’s top 10 tee it up, as well as every other player in the world’s top 25 who plays on the PGA Tour. All in all, our first truly elite field of the year. 


Rahm and McIlroy head the betting at single figures and don’t look all that low at around 8/1 considering the form both are in. They’re followed by last year’s winner, Scottie Scheffler, at 12/1 and Xander Schauffele at 14/1. 

Approach for this kind of event is the polar opposite to some we’ve seen in recent weeks. At Pebble Beach and The AmEx, the strength of the fields, combined with the hard-to-predict formats meant that it made sense to me to go value hunting. Here, with a field boasting 22 of the world’s top 25 and where eight of the last ten winners are major champions, it makes sense to keep our focus at the top of the betting, with the winner much more likely to come from that top 15-20 in betting. 

With that I’m going to pass those mentioned by and kick off with a couple stars at around the 20/1 mark, who I’m hoping are flying in here a little under the radar this week compared to others. We start with last year’s runner-up, Patrick Cantlay. 

2.5pts Patrick Cantlay – each way (1/5 6 places)

Following a strong 2021 in which he won the FedEx Cup for the first time, many expected Cantlay to establish himself as a legitimate major contender in 2022.

Despite a strong start to last year, the major challenges failed to materialise, with a best finish of eighth in The Open once again leaving you a little disappointed for a player of his ability.

He did, however, end the year on a high note, winning the BMW Championship in his third-to-last start of 2022 and concluding with his customary strong effort in the Vegas desert in the Shriners Open, adding another second-place finish to his plethora of good results there.

We have only seen him twice this year. On his first start in three months, he finished 16th in the Tournament of Champions. Two weeks later, he was 26th in The AmEx, where he looked very good from tee to green but struggled – unusually – with the putter.

There is little to dislike about Cantlay’s game, as he has been ranked no lower than 17th in the PGA Tour’s All-around rankings over the past five years. His excellent ball-striking game is complemented by a deft touch around the greens and quality, sometimes mind-boggling brilliance on the greens; he has a game suited for almost any course, as evidenced by his debut runner-up finish here last year.

Last year at TPC Scottsdale, Cantlay improved in all facets of his game, but particularly with his driver and putter. As a native of California, he should appreciate the poa surfaces on the greens this week.

His excellent record in the desert is not limited to Phoenix; as previously mentioned, he has won the Shriners Open in Las Vegas and finished second three times, and he has also finished second in The AmEx, another desert event. While a sixth-place finish at Club de golf Chapultepec in 2019 provides further evidence as to why he was able to perform well on his first attempt here last year, he was able to perform well here on his first attempt in 2018.

His irons had been a little rusty in his previous two starts, but he looked much better in The AmEx the last time we saw him. If he can maintain this level of play this week, he should be well positioned to launch another formidable challenge in Phoenix.

2.5pts Justin Thomas – each way (1/5 6 places)

Justin Thomas has struggled since winning the PGA Championship last year. However, he showed promising signs at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago and should arrive here, where he has a great record, confident and ready to start the season.

Thomas’ dramatic playoff victory at Southern Hills in the 2022 PGA Championship capped a strong first half of the season in which he finished in the top 10 at The Masters and finished eighth here.

This was encouraging as the putter had struggled in 2020 and 2021. He struggled with the putter until the end of the year, when his quality dropped.

In 2023, he finished 25th in the Tournament of Champions, struggling with the driver and the greens. He improved at the Farmers Championship two weeks ago, finishing 25th.

At the difficult South Course, he improved in every area, gained strokes on the greens (albeit marginally), and posted two strokes-gained rounds despite losing strokes with the driver.

His approach play and short game, his strengths, also improved, ranking ninth in approach and seventeenth around the greens.

Due to his length off the tee and approach game, which is among the best in the 150-175 yard range, Thomas has finished well at TPC Scottsdale. He hasn’t missed a cut since his next two visits, compiling form figures of 17-3-4-13-8 in the last five renewals, putting well and often ranking among the best in approach.

He could have a big week if he improves on Torrey Pines. He won the Sony Open and finished in the top 10 multiple times in Mexico, making him suitable for this challenge.

1.25pts Sam Burns – each way (1/5 8 places)

Sam Burns has been my first two bets this year. He underperformed at the Tournament of Champions but did better at The AmEx and appears to be a good bet to improve his surprising lacklustre record in this competition.

Burns placed 32nd in the Tournament of Champions thanks to his putter. He finished 11th in The AmEx and improved in every area.

In the first round, he was the Stadium Course’s fifth-best iron player. Despite his recent success, he had struggled in this area.

Burns is one of the best putters on tour, but his record here—missing 3/4 cuts and finishing no better than 22nd—is surprising given his strong ball-striking and par 4 performance.

However, he can greatly improve it. He finished seventh twice in Houston and did well in The AmEx and Shriners Open in the desert. If he can continue from three weeks ago, he will improve this week.

1pt Jason Day – each way (1/5 7 places)

Jason Day finishes. The former world number one and 2015 PGA champion returned to form late last year, which was encouraging. This year, his game areas have flourished, making him dangerous.

Day regrets the past few years. After years of dominating the leaderboards, he had just one top 10 last season due to back issues. His life has improved since he changed his swing to reduce back strain.

Day finished eighth at the Shriners at the end of the year, then 11th, 21st, and 16th before missing the cut at the RSM Classic.

The Australian started the year well, placing 18th in The AmEx and seventh in the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks later.

He’s one of the tour’s best putters, especially on this week’s greens, and his game has been on point. This season, he ranked 18th in iron play and drove the ball well with power and accuracy. Thus, his thirteenth par 4 ranking this season is not surprising.

Day finished twentieth in this tournament in 2008. He made the cut each time in Houston and had a best of seventh. In the Shriners, he finished fourth and eighth last year.

Day is definitely getting back to his best, but it’s too early to tell. The classy Aussie is a strong contender in Arizona with few issues.

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