DraftKings preview: Waste Management Phoenix Open
January 27, 2020
By Reid Fowler, Special, PGATOUR.COM
- January 27, 2020
Daily Fantasy preview for Waste Management Phoenix Open
The PGA TOUR makes its way to Scottsdale, Arizona, for the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course. The tournament will play as a par 71, measure 7,261 yards and feature Bermuda greens. The WMPO is routinely one of the best-attended tournaments on TOUR, with thousands in attendance all hoping to get a seat on the iconic par-3 16th hole as well as follow players such as Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Xander Schauffele, two-time winner Hideki Matsuyama and defending champion Rickie Fowler, who, after a missed cut last week, comes back to a course he clearly enjoys.
TPC Scottsdale isn’t a terribly difficult course, as the track played as the 24th (out of 48 tournaments) toughest in scoring relative to par last season and 32nd (out of 51 tournaments) the season previous. While it’s wildly entertaining to watch the amphitheater atmosphere on the par-3 16th, TPC Scottsdale is much more than a singular attraction, especially on the back nine. Hole Nos. 14-18 feature, in order, a 470-yard par 4, a par 5, the iconic 16th, a par 4 reachable off the tee at 317 yards, and the 434-yard closing hole. There are also water hazards throughout this stretch of the course. This is a long way of saying the course’s final stretch is set up for a fantastic finish.
The course is fairly straightforward, and although you don’t have to be a long hitter here like players did last week at Torrey Pines, the average driving distance is almost 20 yards further than TOUR average. TPC Scottsdale sits a little over 1,500 feet above sea level, which could be contributing to the longer distance off the tee. Therefore, we shouldn’t be worried about those who don’t hit it far, but rather on those who are solid with irons in hand. Par-4 efficiency from 450 to 500 yards will again be a key factor, with seven holes measuring between these distances, as well as putting on Bermuda this week. With approach, greens in regulation and putting being important, we should also be focusing some on overall proximity to the hole in order to roster golfers who’ll have an easier time earning birdies or better when the opportunity strikes.
Xander Schauffele ($9,900)
Schauffele was a popular pick last week, but disappointed with a missed cut in San Diego. We shouldn’t be worried about his let down last week, as Xander has only missed back-to-back cuts once since February of 2017 and has averaged a 22nd-place finish in tournaments following 11 of the times he failed to make the weekend. He’s got two top-10s and two runners-up in his past four starts, so look for him to bounce back in Scottsdale at a tournament where he finished 10th last season and 17th the year previous.
Matt Kuchar ($9,400)
If you believe in course form, Kuchar is by far one of the best golfers to roster this week. Rickie Fowler ($10,500) and Hideki Matsuyama ($10,100) are other expensive options in this category, but Kuchar has been consistent at TPC Scottsdale during the past five years, gaining close to 4.5 strokes tee-to-green and finishing with a couple of top-5s and a top-10 in his past three starts. He also ranks sixth in Strokes Gained: Putting over his past 20 rounds here. Fatigue might have played a factor in Kuchar’s missed cut at the Sony Open in Hawaii, but he gets back to a course where he’s dominated in recent memory.
Viktor Hovland ($8,400)
Statistically, Hovland checks off all the necessary boxes, ranking 21st in par-4 efficiency 450 to 500 yards, 11th in birdies-or-better gained, second in overall proximity as well as second in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green during his past six tournaments. It also feels like a young, talented player like Hovland or Collin Morikawa will embrace the chaos that is the WMPO and thrive on the energy. We also shouldn’t be worried about this week being Hovland’s first start here, as we’ve seen golfers like Bryson DeChambeau in 2018 and J.J. Spaun in 2017 both finish top-5 in their first year teeing it up at TPC Scottsdale.
Byeong Hun An ($7,600)
It’s never been about his ball-striking, as An has been one of the best during the past couple of seasons. It’s always been about his putting. During his past two tournaments, he’s lost just under nine strokes total with his putter in California, but he comes to a tournament where he recorded his second-best putting performance on TOUR back in 2017 (gained 4.3 Strokes Putting). During his past three tournaments here, he’s gained an average of 5.6 strokes tee-to-green and ranks just outside the top 30 in Strokes Gained: Putting as well as 11th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green.
Martin Laird ($7,200)
As a Scottsdale resident, Laird has absolutely torched this event, ranking third in Strokes Gained: Total since 2015. Since 2011, Laird has two top-10s, two top-5s and has only missed the cut once over the past nine years. He’s played the week previous in all of his starts here since 2010, and it doesn't seem to matter how well he’s playing coming into the WMPO, as he's come into the week after both missed cuts and top-10s the week prior. One big factor, which could be the reason for his success here, is how well he putts on fast Bermuda greens, ranking eighth in the field during his past 50 rounds.
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ABOUT THE WRITER: I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is reidtfowler) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.