Waste Management Open Betting Picks, Trends to Consider
This weekend marks the first important golf weekend of the year and comes at a pivotal time for the sport.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open gets underway Thursday, with TPC Scottsdale hosting the first elevated event under the new PGA Tour format.
The Super Bowl is also taking place in Phoenix, meaning more attention will naturally be on the tournament compared to prior years. A new audience is also set to be introduced to the PGA Tour. Netflix’s new golf documentary, Full Swing, which follows some of the biggest players on Tour, debuts on Feb. 15.
TPC Scottsdale features a seating capacity of up to 350,000 and has become known for hosting one of the rowdiest golf tournaments of the year. The added element of the Super Bowl and the potential for the game to gain new fans combine to make this a key weekend for the PGA Tour.
If you’re looking to bet on the first marquee golf tournament, here are some trends to consider.
Five PGA Trends and Notes
Jon Rahm +750 BetMGM
No one has been off to a better start in 2023 than Jon Rahm, who has regained the form that catapulted him to the No. 1 ranking – a spot he held for 43 weeks. Rahm was victorious in his first two starts of the year, at the Sentry Tournament Champions and the American Express before finishing in a tie for seventh in the Farmers Insurance Open. Rahm’s recent form makes him the clear pre-tourney favorite at +700 on FanDuel.
Rory McIlroy +800 FanDuel
After playing a large part in being a voice for the players and the game of golf during the LIV Golf saga, McIlroy has been one of the best players in the world. He rallied to win the Tour Championship in August and followed that up with six more Top 5 finishes, including wins at the CJ Cup and the DP World Dubai Desert Classic. His recent run has him ranked No. 1 in the world.
Collin Morikawa +1600 FanDuel
It was an inconsistent ending to the 2021-22 season for Collin Morikawa. Over the last five events, he missed the cut twice and had just one Top 20 finish. But one of the best ball-strikers in the world has been more consistently good as of late, entering this week with four straight Top 15 finishes, including a sixth at the Hero World Challenge, runner-up at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and a third in the Farmers Insurance Open.
Hideki Matsuyama +3500 DraftKings
He’s the only person to win the WM Phoenix Open more than once. Matsuyama topped Rickie Fowler in a playoff to win in 2016, then repeated a year later by beating Webb Simpson in a playoff.
Course, Event Trends and Notes
The top-end talent has traditionally been successful at the WM Phoenix Open. Seven of the last eight winners of the tournament also claimed a major title. With this being the first elevated event by the PGA Tour, the best players will be in the field this weekend. Of the Top 20 ranked players, 18 are playing in the WM Phoenix Open. The two to miss are No. 4 Cameron Smith, who is not eligible to compete because of his allegiance to LIV Golf, and No. 8 Will Zalatoris decided to take the week off.
Over the last five years at the WM Phoenix Open, putting has been a more important metric than approach. The winner during that span has gained an average of 5.4 strokes against the field on the greens, up nearly a full stroke than shots gained on approach.
Last year's winner, Scottie Scheffler was second in strokes-gained: putting, finishing at +1.36.
Biggest Field of the Tournament
This year’s WM Phoenix Open features a field of 136 – the largest in the tournament’s history. Traditionally, 132 golfers have participated in the event, but the elevated tournament status allowed a larger pool of competitors to play for the $20 million purse.
Over the last 10 years, the betting favorite has not won the tournament. The closest was when Matsuyama repeated in 2017 and had the second-best pre-tourney odds at +1100, making him the shortest favorite to win over the previous 10 tournaments. Seven of the previous 10 winners came in the second-tier of odds ranging from +2200 to +5000, including Scheffler last year at +2800.
The biggest longshot over the last decade is Kevin Stadler at +12500 in 2014.
Pick to Win: Collin Morikawa
The putting woes are always a concern for him, but his improvement with the flat stick has allowed for his recent success. He was second in the field in strokes-gained: putting at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, trailing only the tourney winner, Rahm, in that category. Morikawa gained strokes putting at the Farmers Insurance (+0.46) but shined in shots-gained: approach, finishing third in that category (+2.25).
Given how his game appears to be in form and he’d fit the trend of recent major champions winning here, I’d look to back him to end his losing streak this weekend.
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