Waste Management Phoenix Open Betting Preview

Waste Management Phoenix Open Betting Preview

Phoenix Open

After an exhilarating week at Torrey Pines, where the calm weather allowed plenty of birdies and eagles to be made, the PGA Tour moves on to Phoenix, Arizona for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Well known for the raucous crowds that gather at the Par-3, 16th, this event is one that fans eagerly circle each season. The arena-like atmosphere on the stadium hole has given us some memorable moments in the past, including a hole-in-one from then 21-year-old, Tiger Woods. All the players throw gifts to the expectant fans, when stepping onto the tee, and then their fate is decided from there. Hit the green and you’ll get a polite cheer, which will increase to a roar should the ball finish anywhere near the hole, miss the green however and you can expect a chorus of boos to ring round the hole.

More than just a party atmosphere, this is an event that usually attracts a stellar field, and this year is no different. Three of the World’s top-10 players and seven of the top-20 make the trip here this week, with most coming in with some fine form.

With the last three renewals decided by a play-off and 11 of the last 12 being won by no more than a single stroke, this should be a tight affair.

Favourites

One of those players coming in off the back of some red-hot form is Jon Rahm, and he is rightly favourite this week. Rahm led after Round 1 at the Farmers Insurance Open, and ended the week finishing in a tie for 5th. This was his fifth straight finish inside the top-8 and his recent form now reads T5-6-T8-1-T4. Rahm graduated from Arizona State and still resides in the Phoenix area, so this is a home game of sorts for him. He will be hoping for an improvement on his first two starts here, despite finishes of 16th and 11th being more than respectable. A win would see him climb further up the world rankings once again, and give the locals someone to cheer home.

In four starts here, Justin Thomas has twice missed the cut and twice finished 17th, but he’ll be hoping for better this week. The American is still in fine form, finishing 3rd at the Tournament of Champions to start 2019, followed by a T16 finish at the Sony Open. He shot 68 or better in each of his four rounds at the Sony, so there was no poor rounds, he just didn’t quite go low enough. Since winning the WGC Bridgestone, he’s posted five top-8 finishes in 10 starts, and has only finished outside the top-24 once, so it’s fair to say he’s keeping up a high level of play. Whilst his course form doesn’t instil the most confidence, the likeliness is Thomas figures it out and plays well here at the fifth time of asking.

San Diego resident, Xander Schauffele returned home last week, looking for his third win of this new season, which is still in its infancy. It wasn’t to be for the 2016/17 Rookie of the Year, but he finished in a respectable 25thplace, which far eclipsed his previous three attempts at Torrey Pines, where he missed the cut on each occasion. On his debut here last year, Schauffele finished in 17th place, which he can build on this week. His final-round 72 here 12 months ago was his worst round of the week, by a margin, as he shot 68-67-66 over the first three days. That sort of round is something Schauffele will be looking to eradicate from his game, especially in scoring conditions. He’s a fine player, who is full of confidence and he could easily be looking at a third win of the season this week.

Hideki Matsuyama had to withdraw from this event 12 months ago due to injury, which is tough considering he was looking for his third-straight title here. Matsuyama first beat Rickie Fowler in a play-off in 2016, before completing the same feat, this time against Webb Simpson a year later. In his first four starts, prior to last year’s withdrawl, Matsuyama finished 4-2-1-1, so it is fair to say he likes the place. The Japanese superstar returned to form at the very best time last week, finishing in a tie for 3rd and he’ll be ready to put a turbulent 2018 behind him, ideally with a win at his favourite course this week.

Defending champion, Gary Woodland returns, and he is currently enjoying a wonderful run of form, which really kick-started when finishing 6th at the PGA Championship last August. Since then Woodland has finished inside the top-12 in 8 of his last 12 starts, including runner-up finishes at both the CJ Cup and Tournament of Champions. Woodland did finish in 80thplace at the Sony Open, but this was a week after a making a strong run in Kapalu, where he had to deal with his Grandmother’s passing. Even when 80th he opened the week with a round of 66 and last week he shot 69-66 over the weekend to finish T9 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Whilst he has a mixed bag of form here, including two missed cuts in his last four starts, his victory last year and 5th place finish in 2011 suggest he can play well here when in form, which he most certainly is.

Rickie Fowler struggled to a T66 place finish at Torrey Pines last week, but before that has finished T4-T16-T5 in his first three appearances of his new season. The last of those came at the unofficial Hero World Challenge, but his T4 finish at his season debut in Vegas, carried on his good form since returning from an oblique injury. He finished T8 and T7 at the BMW and Tour Championship respectively to end his 2017/18 season, so he had been in fairly good form before last week. Fowler has two 2nd place finishes at this course, most recently when losing out to Matsuyama in a play-off in 2016, and his last three results here read 11-4-2, so plenty will be expected of him. Fowler does not win as often as his ability suggests he should, but he will hope to finally get over the line here, at a course he’s threatened to win at on multiple occasions.

Big-hitting Tony Finau played well, if not spectacular in his opening event of 2019 at Torrey Pines last week. T13 last week and two runner-up finishes in his last five starts worldwide, it looks as though Finau is going to breakthrough and get his second win, every time he tees it up at the moment. It still hasn’t happened yet though and there are certainly venues he prefers over this one. After finishing T22 on his debut here, Finau has missed his last three straight cuts, but given his recent form and improved stature in the game, there would be no surprise to see him at least make the weekend, which would give him a chance of contending, this time around.

Dark Horses

It is somewhat strange to call a 49-time winner a dark horse, but Phil Mickelson is not considered amongst the immediate favourites this week, despite shooting a 60 in his opening round at the Desert Classic, where was beaten by a single stroke by newcomer, Adam Long. Cruelly denied a 59 in the opening round there, will only remind him of the time his putt fell just short of shooting that magic number, when winning here in 2013. His form here since that win in 2013 reads 42-MC-11-16-5, so this is clearly a course he still enjoys. Lefty’s win here six years ago was his third in this event and like Rahm, he is also a graduate of Arizona State, so will always be a popular figure in this part of the country. Given his performance last time out, when he really should have won, it’s highly possible that Mickelson makes a run at his fourth Phoenix Open win, and 50th professional win overall.

Scotland’s Martin Laird has a knack for repeat performances at particular courses, and this is one of them. Whilst he has never won here, Laird has finished inside the top-5 in both 2011 (T3) and 2015 (T5), and has also posted back-to-back top-9 finishes here over the past two starts (T7 2017, T9 2018). Whilst he’s not in the greatest form of late (T43-MC-MC), Laird did finish T7 in his second start of the season, at the Sanderson Farms Championship. With this good finish in recent memory, as well as impressive book of course form, Laird makes an intriguing option at longer odds.

Recommended Bets

Phil Mickelson EW at 4/1 with SkyBet – BET HERE

Martin Laird Top European at 8/1 with SkyBet – BET HERE

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