The PGA Tour heads to Arizona this week for the loudest week of golf as the WM Phoenix Open takes place at a TPC Scottsdale that will have raucous crowds for what is always one of the most popular events on the circuit.
Scottie Scheffler certainly enjoys himself in the desert because he has won this tournament for the last two years and he is in the field looking to complete a hat trick of titles. A decent field always turns up for this one and this year is no different.
2023 – Scottie Scheffler
2022 – Scottie Scheffler
2021 – Brooks Koepka
2020 – Webb Simpson
2019 – Rickie Fowler
2018 – Gary Woodland
2017 – Hideki Matsuyama
2016 – Hideki Matsuyama
2015 – Brooks Koepka
2014 – Kevin Stadler
All golf fans will know all about TPC Scottsdale and plenty who aren’t big supporters of the sport will do too with the famous 16th hole. This isn’t a long course by any stretch of the imagination. It is a par 71 but it only measures 7,261 yards which with the dry desert air makes it a relatively short course. There was a redesign of the track in 2015 and since then it has been the longer hitters who’ve held sway in the main.
Although there isn’t a huge challenge off the tee here you do need to drive the ball well because the desert areas aren’t fun but generally this is a test of approach into the large greens and then putting on them. Since the refurb only top drawer winners have been produced so this might not be an event for the rookies or those not accustomed with winning.
We’ve seen some high profile defections from the PGA Tour since the last time this tournament was played but a decent field is always guaranteed here and especially when the world number one Scottie Scheffler is in it. He is the defending champion and will really fancy his chances. Other leading American players looking to take the crown from him include Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Max Homa and the Pebble Beach winner Wyndham Clark.
There is a decent international charge this week, which feels significant given the Presidents Cup takes place at the end of the year. Byeong-Hun An, Tom Kim, Sungjae Im, Min Woo Lee and Hideki Matsuyama head up that challenge with the likes of Adam Hadwin and Corey Conners looking to go well too. There isn’t much of a European challenge here this week but Matthew Fitzpatrick and Shane Lowry tee it up. Other notables include Sam Burns, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott and The Open champion Brian Harman.
Scottie Scheffler is the favourite to win the tournament this week. That is understandable when you consider he has won the event for the last two years. Whether there is any value in him at around the 9/2 mark is a different question really. A few months ago you wouldn’t go near Scheffler with the way he was putting but that has improved hugely in recent times and if that continues this week he will be difficult to stop. I’m not a 9/2 backer though, especially with inclement weather doing the rounds.
Justin Thomas has a decent record around here and while 2023 was a season to forget for him, he has shown signs of life in 2024 without a win coming along. He ticks arguably the most important box of all here in that you have to embrace the crowd and the event. He is 11/1 to win the tournament and while he has an acceptable record in it, the course is going to play longer with the recent rain and that might make others better options than him.
Jordan Spieth is the third favourite in the market this week. He started the year well at The Sentry and has four top 10s around here so I get why he is high up in the betting at around the 14/1 mark. His success here has been because of his short game but you would imagine the long game will win the way this week with a soft course to start the tournament out with and we know that is the area where he isn’t as strong as the rest of his game.
Max Homa is the fourth favourite for the tournament this week based on the best prices. He can be backed at 20/1. Usually he arrives at this event having won something in California in the lead up but that isn’t the case this time around, although it is only three months ago that he won the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa so that isn’t the concern it might be. He has a respectable record without bring brilliant around here and feels a little on the short side to me.
I’m all about the long game this week with the rain that is around the place and with that in mind I think Byeong-Hun An is a leading contender. He has really come into his own since the end of last season and appears to be threatening to win every time he tees it up these days. He has a couple of top four finishes this season in The Sentry and at the Sony Open and he got better the longer the week went on at Pebble Beach last week. With the course now going to play a whole lot longer and wider this week his power off the tee and aggressive iron play should be rewarded. I think he looks a very good bet this week.
In a similar vein I like Sahith Theegala to go well here too. I wouldn’t say he is going as strong in the long game department as An is but the fact there is going to be little roll on the ball this week will widen the fairways enough for him to be in play a lot more and then we saw a couple of years ago when he broke through in this event that the rest of the game suits this place. He nearly took the title down a couple of years ago and has won on the PGA Tour since then so he should be returning a much more confident player. Conditions might just have worked out well for The Sentry runner up.
Kurt Kitayama hasn’t put four rounds together this year yet but he is a player who carded a 64 and a 66 at The Sentry, a 62 at the Sony Open and then a 67 in the tournament at Pebble Beach last week so his scoring is very much there. One of the reasons why he has struggled at times is because his driver can go skewiff but with the fairways being widened by the rain this week I don’t think that is going to be as much of a factor as it might otherwise have been. Kitayama should be keen to build up a head of steam going into his title defence at Bay Hill soon and he is another who might well have the conditions to suit here.
The other player who I think could be assisted by conditions is Ryan Fox. His aggressive, power game could be rewarded around here. We know he’ll belt it out there off the tee and he has a little more freedom without much run on the ball and then he’ll attack with the irons. If he can get the short stick working on these greens, which inevitably will be slower than usual PGA Tour dancefloors, then I think the BMW PGA Championship winner has a big chance here. He has the personality to thrive in the noise and razzmatazz of the event and I think he is overpriced for a good crack at this.
Back B-H.An to win Phoenix Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 29.00 with Sky Bet (1/5 1-8)
Back S.Theegala to win Phoenix Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 36.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back K.Kitayama to win Phoenix Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-8)
Back him here:
Back R.Fox to win Phoenix Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with William Hill (1/5 1-8)
Back him here: