The Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale is dubbed “The Greatest Show on Grass” and has no problem living up to its name. In addition to playing host to the biggest names in the game, pre-Covid the tournament was the PGA Tour’s best-attended event – drawing nearly 500,000 enthusiastic spectators each year.
Formerly known as The Phoenix Open and FBR Open, the event has been hosted by the TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course since 1987. Unlike other tournaments, spectators become central to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, helping to transform the famous 16th hole into “The Coliseum” – the loudest hole in golf.
In 1997 a 21 year old Tiger Woods aced the 16th in what is one of the most famous holes-in-one of all time
In 2014 the City of Scottsdale carried out an extensive renovation of Stadium Course under the supervision of architect Tom Weiskopf. The project included;
- the relocation of four greens
- resurfacing of all greens,
- reshaping and re-grassing all tee complexes
- relocation and reshaping of all bunker complexes and re-landscaping of desert areas
The result was a more aesthetically pleasing resort for guests and strategically more challenging for the professionals.
Course knowledge around TPC Scottsdale is a plus and those with solid Event Form should be given due consideration. It is a ball strikers course and all aspects of a player’s game needs to be in tune. The big hitters will have a slight advantage on the gettable Par-5 15th and the driveable Par-4 17th. However, water is in play on both these holes so errant tee shots will be punished. Hitting plenty Greens in Regulation is key for success.
Last year, Webb Simpson captured the Waste Management Phoenix Open for his sixth PGA Tour title and first since the 2018 Players Championship. The North Carolina native birdied the final two holes of regulation play to force a playoff with Tony Finau. A 10-foot birdie on the first playoff hole was enough to secure victory.
Simpson had a superb ball-striking week. He finished the week 2nd in Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green gaining an impressive 9.474 strokes on the field. In particular his approach play was eye catching. He finished top of the pile in Strokes Gained Approach-The-Green which yielded a gain of 7.476 strokes. Other stats for the week include T3 for Driving Accuracy, 44th for Driving Distance, T6 for GIR and 12th in Strokes Gained Putting.
In 2019, California native, Rickie Fowler secured his 5th PGA Tour victory and first in nearly two years by winning the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It was a tournament where he was twice beaten in a playoff. A bizarre triple bogey on No. 11 looked to have derailed his chances of securing the elusive victory.
However, Fowler birdied two of his final four holes for a final round +3 (74) which was enough for a two stroke victory over Branden Grace. He finished on a total -17 (267) having preceded the final round with rounds of 64-65-64.
“I didn’t think it would be easy, but the way I was playing this week, I thought it would have been easier, it was kind of grind it out. I had a couple of tough breaks and had to deal with the punches, a couple big ones, but it feels good now”Rickie Fowler
Fowler’s putter accounted for nearly two-thirds of his strokes gained on the field average topping the pile for the SG:Putting (9.539 strokes) category. His play from the tee box was not too shabby either finishing 3rd for SG:Off-The-Tee (5.639 strokes). Other stats for the week include T3 in Driving Accuracy, 11th for Driving Distance, T13 in GIR and T6 for Putts per GIR.
The 2018 champion, Gary Woodland, birdied three of the last four holes to finish the week -18 (266) and earn a playoff with fellow Kansas native Chez Reavie. A par on the first hole of a sudden death playoff was enough to get the job done and earn his third PGA Tour victory.
Woodland’s play from the tee and in particular on approach laid the foundation for his win. He averaged nearly a 2-stroke gain on the field average per round in the Strokes Gained Approach-The-Green category. Other stats for the week include T19 in Driving Accuracy, T7 for Driving Distance, 4th in GIR and 16th in Strokes Gained Putting
In 2017, Hideki Matsuyama prevailed winning his second PGA Tour title of the season and fourth overall. He is the sixth player to successfully defend the title having won the year previous. He won on the fourth hole of a playoff outlasting Webb Simpson with a birdie putt on the short Par-4 17th. Matsuyama finished the week T6 in Driving Accuracy, T19 for Driving Distance, T2 in GIR and a mediocre 47th in Strokes Gained Putting.
2016 saw Rickie Fowler let a two shot lead slip away on the Par 4 17th hole when he hit a driver through the green and into the water. This opened the door for Hideki Matsuyama who went on to capture the title in a dramatic four hole playoff.
Matsuyama finished the week 35th in Driving Distance, T44 for Driving Accuracy, 1st for GIR and 16th for Scrambling. His ball-striking delivered the lions shared of his strokes gained on the field average finishing 10th in Strokes Gained Driving and 5th in Strokes Gained Approach.
The 2015 winner, Brooks Koepka, beat Hideki Matsuyama, Bubba Watson and Ryan Palmer by one stroke finishing on a score of -15(269). He finished the week inside the Top 10 for Driving Distance, GIR and Scrambling. He was T18 in Strokes Gained Putting racking up an Eagle and 18 Birdies. He squared only 4 Bogeys for the tournament.
Waste Management Phoenix Open Betting Tips
Daniel Berger 20/1 (E/W) – finished T9 in last year’s edition of the WMPO. Prior to that he had a T7 in 2017 and a T11 in 2018. Has four Top 25’s from from six starts this season including a T7 in his last outing at the Sony Open in Hawaii. No standout attribute to his game but does a lot of things well, so no surprise to see the Florida native comfortably inside the Top 20 in this week’s Stats Analysis. He is also 6th on Tour for Birdie Average. The 27 year old’s game has matured nicely over the last couple of seasons underlined by his regular appearance on leaderboards. Places in the Top 20 for each of the key performance categories of Event Form, Current Form and Stats Analysis. Ticks a lot of boxes to do well this week.
Gary Woodland 60/1 (E/W) – a past champion at the WMPO, he followed up his victory here in 2018 with a T7 in 2019. A hip labral tear has played havoc with his form this season and his only highlight is a T16 a couple of weeks back in the American Express. His poor form is reflected in his stats this season which by his ‘usual’ standards are way off. His road to recovery looks to be trending in the right direction and is too good a player not to turn his season around. The big hitter from Kansas shot a bogey free -6 (66) on the North Course last week and if he can reproduce that form he could put himself in the mix. May not win, but is an attractive each way option considering no one at the top end of the market is setting the golfing world alight. Beware the injured golfer!
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