Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Waste Management Phoenix Open Tips

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It was great to see Justin Rose win in such style at Torrey Pines last week. He’s firmly established himself as the rightful World Number 1 and his win at the Farmers last week against a stacked field was almost serene in its ease. It was his 10th PGA Tour win, which puts him level with Sergio Garcia in the all-time list; it was also Rose’s first on Poa Annua greens. This week he takes on World Numbers 2 (Koepka), 4 (Dustin Johnson) and 5 (DeChambeau) in Saudi Arabia. Personally I was left a tad frustrated at the Farmers as Woodland (9th), Finau (13th) and Palmer (13th) all had each-way return wobbles. Thin margins in this game as always. As ever though Golf Betting System delivered with colleague Paul Williams producing a full 35/1 each-way place with Poulter in Dubai and tipping 100/1 Adam Scott in last week’s Golf Betting System podcast. We had record download numbers once again last week, so get involved when this week’s podcast is published on Tuesday.

Before we talk the Waste Management Phoenix Open, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing in the inevitable build-up to The Masters. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

From the majesty of the classical Torrey Pines, we travel back to the desert for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Expect dome-like playing conditions and over 600,000 fans at TPC Scottsdale for what’s always a lively encounter at altitude on Super Bowl weekend.

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Course Guide: Since 2015, the PGA Tour professionals in the main have welcomed the Tom Weiskopf-inspired changes to the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale. 2014 had seen the course closed to undergo a major re-design which included new irrigation, re-surfacing of greens including new green locations at No. 2, No. 3, No. 4 and No. 14, bunker construction and tee construction. In all, 114 yards was added to the course across 11 holes, extending the layout to a 7,266 yard, Par 71 test. Set at approximately 1,250 feet above sea level, players face a different challenge this week as the golf ball will travel slightly further than they’ve experienced across Hawaii and California. Talking of challenges, players also need to embrace the atmosphere on the Stadium Course with over 600,000 spectators last year making this the most attended golf tournament on the planet.

Stadium Course, TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona: Designer: Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish 1995, with Weiskopf re-design 2014; Course Type: Desert, Resort; Par: 71; Length: 7,266 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 3; Fairways: Bermudagrass with Perennial Rye and fine fescue; Rough: Bermudagrass with Perennial Rye and fine fescue 3″; Greens: 7,100 sq.ft average featuring TifEagle Bermudagrass overseeded with Velvet Bentgrass and Poa Trivialis; Tournament Stimp: 12.5ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 70.76 (-0.24), Difficulty Rank 29 of 49 courses. 2013: 68.95 (-2.05), Difficulty Rank 40 of 43 courses. 2014: 70.64 (-0.36), Rank 33 of 48 courses. 2015: 70.75 (-0.25), Rank 22 of 52 courses. 2016: 71.03 (+0.03), Rank 20 of 50 courses. 2017: 70.19 (-0.81), Rank 33 of 50 courses. 2018: 70.32 (-0.64), Rank 32 of 51 courses.

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:

  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:28; 300:27; 325:27; 350:26.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:25; 350:24.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:28; 325:27; 350:25.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:32; 300:33; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 53 yards wide; 275:58; 300:63; 325:58; 350:62.
  • Seaside Course: 250 yards from the tee: 39 yards wide; 275:38; 300:33; 325:29; 350:23.
  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:30; 300:26; 325:25; 350:24.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 28 yards wide; 275:27; 300:28; 325:28; 350:24
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:27; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:25; 300:24; 325:23; 350:22.

Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Tom Weiskopf designs include (including re-designs):

  • North Course, Torrey Pines 2017-2019 Farmers Insurance Open

Course Overview: Scoring at the Stadium Course tends to be around the -15/269 to -17/267 mark, unless course conditions are soft like they were in 2013 when Phil Mickelson won at an eye-watering -28/256. The freshly renovated course features an additional 114 yards of length, with fresh green surfaces featuring TifEagle Bermudagrass overseeded with Velvet Bentgrass and Poa Trivialis. These green complexes have now been in place for just over 4 years so shouldn’t offer up too many surprises. They run pretty quick, unless rain comes and softens the course.

Undoubtedly the new Weiskopf-inspired Stadium Course is a tougher proposition than the previous set-up. Whilst greens aren’t that difficult to hit for the very best ball-strikers, interestingly getting the ball close to the hole is the real difficulty of the course. Proximity to Hole rankings of 8th (2015), 2nd (2016), 6th (2017) and 10th at the last renewal highlight the fact that putters find it very difficult to be able to make the difference with their short game.

The course is scoreable, but when it’s played as it was intended in terms of fairway/green speeds, this tournament never features scoring like we see at PGA West for the reasons listed above. Throw in the fact that scrambling is relatively easy here and it’s clear that big hitting ball-strikers, who can consistently hit greens, have a real advantage here in the thinner air. This is no better illustrated than looking at course specialists such as Brendan Steele, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Hideki Matsuyama who must love attacking a set of par-5s, which read 558, 558 and 553 yards on the scorecard, at altitude.

Winners: 2018: Gary Woodland (-18); 2017: Hideki Matsuyama (-17); 2016: Hideki Matsuyama (-14); 2015: Brooks Koepka (-15); 2014: Kevin Stadler (-16); 2013: Phil Mickelson (-23); 2012: Kyle Stanley (-15); 2011: Mark Wilson (-18); 2010: Hunter Mahan (-16).

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Hideki Matsuyama, Gary Woodland, Phil Mickelson, Cameron Champ, Brendan Steele, Ryan Palmer, Danny Lee, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Billy Horschel.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Mayakoba Golf Classic and Nedbank Challenge, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Matt Kuchar; 2) Chez Reavie; 3) Daniel Berger / Kevin Streelman; 5) Keegan Bradley / Ryan Moore; 7) Ryan Armour / Joel Dahmen / Jon Rahm; 10) Jason Kokrak; 11) Gary Woodland; 12) Vaughn Taylor; 13) Satoshi Kodaira; 14) Andrew Landry; 15) Webb Simpson; 16) Billy Horschel; 17) Adam Hadwin; 18) Brice Garnett; 19) John Huh; 20) Russell Henley.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Martin Kaymer; 2) Webb Simpson; 3) Jon Rahm / Justin Thomas; 5) Lucas Glover; 6) Keegan Bradley / Matt Kuchar; 8) Jason Kokrak; 9) Hideki Matsuyama / Ted Potter Jnr; 11) Billy Horschel; 12) Emiliano Grillo; 13) Ryan Armour; 14) Talor Gooch / Scott Piercy; 16) Xander Schauffele / J.J. Spaun; 18) Rickie Fowler; 19) Branden Grace / Adam Hadwin / Danny Lee.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Andrew Putnam; 2) Cameron Smith / Justin Thomas; 4) Alex Noren; 5) Patton Kizzire / Xander Schauffele; 7) Webb Simpson; 8) Kiradech Aphibarnrat; 9) Tony Finau / Brian Gay / Peter Uihlein; 12) Bubba Watson; 13) Richy Werenski; 14) Jon Rahm; 15) Matt Kuchar; 16) Adam Hadwin; 17) Aaron Baddeley / Billy Horschel; 19) Nick Taylor; 20) Bud Cauley / Alex Cejka / Brandt Snedeker.

Winners & Prices: 2018: Woodland 50/1; 2017: Matsuyama 11/1; 2016: Matsuyama 25/1; 2015: Koepka 40/1; 2014: Stadler 125/1; 2013: Mickelson 25/1; 2012: Stanley 66/1; 2011: Wilson 80/1; 2010: Mahan 66/1. Past 5 Renewals Average: 50/1; Overall Average: 54/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2018: Weather: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 80. Wind NW 5-10 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 80. Wind SW 4-8 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 80. Wind SW 5-10 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 80. Wind SW 4-8 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 67. Wind NW 7-12 mph. Friday: Round one resumed at 8 a.m. and concluded at 8:28 a.m. Sunny, with a high in the low-70s. Wind NW 8-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 74. Wind light and variable 5-7 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 76. Wind SW 4-8 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Sunny, with a high of 67 degrees. Wind NE 5-10 mph. Friday: Sunny, with a high of 64 degrees. Wind NE 5-10 mph Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 77 degrees. Wind SW 4-8 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 78 degrees. Wind SW 4-8 mph.
  • 2015: Thursday: Partly cloudy with a high of 76. Wind SW at 7-12 mph. Friday: Cloudy, with a high of 60. E wind at 5-10 mph with periods of light showers throughout the day. Saturday: Mostly cloudy, with a high of 57. Wind light and variable. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 68. Wind WSW at 6-8 mph.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Scottsdale, Arizona is here. Scottsdale has actually seen a little rain in January, but it was earlier in the month and won’t have any significant impact on tournament conditions. However rain is in the forecast across the tournament. There’s a 70% chance of precipitation overnight on Thursday and 60% chance of precipitation overnight on Saturday for the final round. Soft conditions in 2015 turned this into a total-driving fest, so bear that in mind. Temperatures also look like they will be down year on year, with sub-20 degree Celsius temperatures likely over the weekend. That again should aid those with power.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 4 winners of the Phoenix Open since the course re-design in 2014 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2018, Gary Woodland (-18). 318 yards (8th), 60.7% fairways (19th), 77.8% greens in regulation (4th), 34’11” proximity to hole (6th), 68.8 % scrambling (25th), 1.71 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2017, Hideki Matsuyama (-17). 311 yards (20th), 66.1% fairways (6th), 80.6% greens in regulation (2nd), 32’11” proximity to hole (3rd), 71.4 % scrambling (12th), 1.74 putts per GIR (26th).
  • 2016, Hideki Matsuyama (-14). 296 yards (36th), 55.4% fairways (44th), 77.8% greens in regulation (1st), 35’10” proximity to hole (7th), 68.6 % scrambling (16th), 1.75 putts per GIR (32nd).
  • 2015, Brooks Koepka (-15). 310 yards (3rd), 58.9% fairways (47th), 75.0% greens in regulation (4th), 35’2″ proximity to hole (10th), 83.3 % scrambling (2nd), 1.69 putts per GIR (11th).

Tournament Skill Average:

  • Driving Distance: 17th, Driving Accuracy: 29th, Greens in Regulation: 3rd, Proximity to Hole: 5th, Scrambling: 14th, Putting Average 20th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2018, Gary Woodland (-18). SG Off the Tee: 12th, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 32nd, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 16th.
  • 2017, Hideki Matsuyama (-17). SG Off the Tee: 9th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 29th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 47th.
  • 2016, Hideki Matsuyama (-14). SG Off the Tee: 10th, SG Approach: 4th, SG Around the Green: 9th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 29th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 10th, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 23rd, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 31st.

Let’s take a view from players as to how the TPC Scottsdale sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Gary Woodland (2018): “I put a lot of work in this off season. I mean obviously I knew what has been going on in the last couple years, short game, needed some adjustment, I spent some time with Pete Cowen. Pete really got me to where I have confidence in my short game and that allowed me to be more aggressive and let Butch and I do what we do. And play aggressive off the tee, play aggressive with the irons and attack from there. It’s been a big difference

Jordan Spieth: “Yeah, I’ll play the 17th aggressively. I’ll try and knock it on the green. If I get out of position, you can always make par unless you hit it obviously in the water. You can still make par from there. They get that pin way in the back in that little sliver, and I’ll probably still try and hit driver up the green. If it goes offline and I can’t get next to the hole, then you hit it to about 20 feet and two-putt and don’t do anything more. I saw quite a few shots in my experience last time, including my own, and I think I made par to that hole by playing conservatively, and that’s fine. I think if you play the hole 2-under for the week, you’ve done a good job. So it will be a good test this week. These greens are very pure. If you’re putting well, you can really putt well out here. It’s not Poa annua.

Hideki Matsuyama: “Before the re-design or the changes, I thought it was an easier course than it is now. I mean, the 2nd hole and the 14th hole have really put some bite into this course, and those are two difficult holes right now where before they weren’t that difficult.

Brooks Koepka: “15, 16, 17 is just I think an unbelievable finish. There is so much risk reward, like you said. And if you hit a couple of quality golf shots, you can really make a move, whereas, you know, the opposite, you hit one bad one, and you can run up a number pretty quick. Luckily I was able to pull some shots off.

Phil Mickelson: “I think, for the most part, they’re very well done. The first year you always have to cut some slack because the greens are firm and unreceptive because the roots haven’t had a chance to grow in. You want to cut it some slack the first year. But I think it looks really good. Surprisingly, the greens are putting very true and in wonderful shape. I was pleasantly surprised. In terms of new bunkering, I thought it was strategic and well-placed in a lot of holes. I have always liked Weiskopf’s stuff. He has great strategy from a player’s standpoint. Really not too much was done differently other than three or four holes; otherwise, very similar throughout.

Bubba Watson: “It’s just a different mindset, I mean, when you’re adding length to a golf course you still have to hit driver. But it’s funny to me how they add length and then shorten the landing zone. They make it skinnier. They don’t want you to hit it any farther but they want to stretch the course out. It’s funny to me. It makes this golf course a lot different and tougher. Today I hit my driver nicely. I think I missed two fairways, which is pretty good for me. G30 worked out today. But, yeah, for me today it was about the driver. Around this golf course my driver stays in play. My irons are pretty decent. So now it’s a driving golf course. There are a couple things they could tweak here and there. It’s about 85 to 80% perfect the way they changed it, but there are a couple of little things. Nothing major, though. It doesn’t change the outcome of the score if you changed them, but just the way it looks.

Ryan Palmer: “In the past it’s been better for me, I think, because there is a lot of shots that, a lot of draw ball tee shots. A lot of greens set up for me, as well, depending on where the pin is obviously. I was able to kind of attack the golf course with the length I have. From what it is now to what it used to be, it’s definitely longer, for sure. I used to hit a lot of wedges, sand wedges, and we are not doing that anymore. But I like what they did from tee to green. They did a lot of good things. There are a few greens that I’m sure if you ask a lot of players they weren’t very pleased about, but overall I think they did a really good job with it. It’s in perfect shape, for sure. Greens are rolling pretty pure, of course with the bounces they are getting. Overall I think they did a good job.”

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 9 Phoenix Open winners:

  • 2018 – Gary Woodland: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 8th.
  • 2017 – Hideki Matsuyama: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2016 – Hideki Matsuyama: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2015 – Brooks Koepka: Round 1: 64th, Round 2: 20th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2014 – Kevin Stadler: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2013 – Phil Mickelson: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2012 – Kyle Stanley: Round 1: 33rd, Round 2: 5th, Round 3: 5th.
  • 2011 – Mark Wilson: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2010 – Hunter Mahan: Round 1: 29th, Round 2 54th, Round 3: 6th.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 9 Phoenix Open winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2018 – Gary Woodland: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2017 – Hideki Matsuyama: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2016 – Hideki Matsuyama: Round 1: Level, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2015 – Brooks Koepka: Round 1: 7 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2014 – Kevin Stadler: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2013 – Phil Mickelson: Round 1: 4 ahead, Round 2: 4 ahead, Round 3: 6 ahead.
  • 2012 – Kyle Stanley: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 8 back.
  • 2011 – Mark Wilson: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2010 – Hunter Mahan: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 4 back.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Gary Woodland: 12th Torrey/7th Waialae/3rd Shark Shootout/34th OHL Classic.
  • Hideki Matsuyama: 33rd Torrey/27th Waialae/2nd Kapalua/1st World Challenge.
  • Hideki Matsuyama: MC Torrey/17th World Challenge/2nd Dunlop Phoenix/WD HSBC.
  • Brooks Koepka: 19th Nedbank/42nd DP World Tour/1st Turkey/48th BMW Masters.
  • Kevin Stadler: 78th PGA West/12th OHL Classic/10th McGladrey/19th CIMB.
  • Phil Mickelson: 51st Torrey/37th PGA West/13th Singapore/2nd Mission Hills.
  • Kyle Stanley: 2nd Torrey/MC PGA West/23rd Waialae/11th Aus Open.
  • Mark Wilson: MC PGA West/1st Waialae/6th Disney/22nd Shriners.
  • Hunter Mahan: 64th Pebble/MC Riviera/27th Torrey/14th Shriners.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their group and winning score since 2010.

  • 2018 – Haas PM -7/64 – 150/1
  • 2017 – Kuchar PM -7/64 – 70/1
  • 2016 – Fowler / Lowry / Matsuyama – 2AM/1PM Split -6/65.
  • 2015 – Palmer – PM -7/64.
  • 2014 – Watson / Yang – AM/PM Split -7/64.
  • 2013 – Mickelson – AM -11/60.
  • 2012 – Dufner / Palmer – Both PM -7/64.
  • 2011 – Gainey – PM -8/63.
  • 2010 – Villegas – AM -9/62.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of altitude golf courses on the PGA Tour since 2013.

2013:

  • Old White: Winner: Jonas Blixt; EW Places: Walker, Potter Jnr, Stuard.
  • Montreux: Winner: Gary Woodland; EW Places: Steele, Sabbatini.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner: Webb Simpson; EW Places: Hoffman, Hadley.

2014:

  • Old White: Winner: Angel Cabrera; EW Places: Simpson, Bradley, Stroud.
  • Montreux: Winner: Geoff Ogilvy; EW Places: Huh, Laird.
  • Cherry Hills: Winner: Billy Horschel; EW Places: Watson, Hoffmann, Fowler, Palmer.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner: Ben Martin; EW Places: Streelman, Knox, Simpson, Walker, Finau, Piercy.

2015:

  • Old White: Winner: Danny Lee; EW Places: Streb, Kisner, Henley, Hahn.
  • Montreux: Winner: J.J. Henry; EW Places: Rodgers, Steele.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner: Smylie Kaufman; EW Places: Cejka, Kizzire, Na.

2016:

  • Montreux: Winner: Greg Chalmers; EW Places: Woodland, Knost, Steele, Laird.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner: Rod Pampling; EW Places: Glover, English, Bradley, Stanley.

2017:

  • Chapultepec: Winner: Dustin Johnson; EW Places: Rahm, Thomas, Mickelson, Snedeker.
  • Old White: Winner: Xander Schauffele; EW Places: Streb, Henley, Kraft, Finau, Blaum.
  • Montreux: Winner: Chris Stroud; EW Places: Werenski, Hoge.
  • Nine Bridges: Justin Thomas; EW Places: Cam Smith, Whee Kim, List.
  • TPC Summerlin: Patrick Cantlay; EW Places: Whee Kim, Cejka, Hadley, Kizzire, Hossler, Hoge, DeChambeau.

2018:

  • Chapultepec: Winner: Phil Mickelson; EW Places: Thomas, Hatton, Harman, Aphibarnrat.
  • Old White: Winner: Kevin Na; EW Places: Kraft, Kokrak, Snedeker, Cook, Dahmen, Niemann, Varner III.
  • Montreux: Winner: Andrew Putnam; EW Places: Spaun, Schniederjans, Stroud.
  • Nine Bridges: Brooks Koepka; EW Places: Woodland, Palmer, Piercy, Reavie, Cam Smith.
  • TPC Summerlin: Bryson DeChambeau; EW Places: Ryder, Ancer, Fowler, Streb, Glover, Hadley, Palmer.

So what’s the recipe for success this week? Well key player attributes rewarded here undoubtedly include driving distance, consistent ball-striking and a high Going for the Green rate. Players who can hit the ball both high and consistently well thrive on Weiskopf’s design which features relatively large and flat green complexes. The re-laid greens themselves are quite tricky as they feature a TifEagle Bermudagrass base which has been overseeded with Velvet Bentgrass and Poa Trivialis. They play like Bentgrass, with little grain. All winners here since 2010 have featured in the Top 10 for Greens in Regulation and I can’t see that changing in 2019. Course experience is not essential here as both Kyle Stanley and Brooks Koepka won on their course debut.

Looking at the incoming form of recent winners, Gary Woodland 12 months ago had gone backwards when contending at Torrey Pines the week before. However an eventual 12th at Torrey was preceded by 7th at Waialae. Hideki Matsuyama in 2017 had finished 33rd at Torrey Pines and 27th at Waialae prior to arriving in Arizona, allowing his odds to grow to 11/1. Prior to that 4 wins and 2 runner-up positions including season-opener Kapalua had made him the hottest player on the planet. 2016 had seen him miss the cut at Torrey Pines on his 2016 debut, but 2nd at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan and 5th at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur at the latter end of 2015 had shown promise in low-scoring events. Brooks Koepka had started the 2014/15 PGA Tour season strongly with 8th at Silverado and 4th at TPC Summerlin followed by his first main Tour career victory at the star-studded Turkish Airlines Open on the European Tour. This was his calendar debut. In 2014, ‘Baby Walrus’ Kevin Stadler had shaken the rust off at PGA West (78th) after a strong close to 2013 which included 4th at TPC Boston, 19th at Kuala Lumpur, 10th at Sea Island and 12th at El Camaleon.

My selections are as follows:

Justin Thomas 4pts Win 10/1 with bet365  *For the latest bet365 Opening Account Offer details see below, use bonus code SPORT100

I put Justin Thomas up for this 12 months ago and I have no hesitation again in 2019. In essence he has the perfect game for TPC Scottsdale, although a couple of 17th place finishes here in 2015 and 2018 don’t back that up as fully as you might expect. 4th for Par Breakers, 4th for Ball Striking (imperative here), 7th for Greens in Regulation, 35th for Going for the Green and 10th for Total Driving (another key statistic), Thomas has quiet form which reads 16th Sony Open – 3rd Tournament of Champions – 12th World Challenge – 36th CJ Cup – 5th CIMB Classic. With in-your-face form hardly a guaranteed indicator of the champion here, these results make interesting reading and a closing -4/66 at Waialae and rounds of -6/67 and -8/65 at Kapalua highlight a player who isn’t exactly struggling at the moment. 1st for Strokes Gained Approach and 2nd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green so far this season, on a track where Strokes Gained Putting isn’t a factor, I think JT will fly this week.

That view can be backed up by previous performances here. On debut here as a Tour rookie in 2015 – it was only his 6th tournament on the Tour – Thomas shot 67/68 to be 3rd at halfway. -2/69 on the Saturday placed him in the 3rd last group Sunday, but a 72 on Sunday saw him drop to 17th. 12 months ago he was without caddie Jimmy Johnson and that undoubtedly affected his play, but he still finished with a 4th-best-in-field 66, to highlight that Scottsdale is a perfect track for the World Number 4. I also get the feeling with ultra-competitive Thomas that with the likes of World Number 1 Rose, Number 5 DeChambeau and Number 10 Schauffele having started 2019 with wins, he’ll be eager to open his 2019 account and garner a 10th PGA Tour title. His results profile also stacks up well with both Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka, who have won 3 of the 4 titles played here since the re-design. From 2017 think Erin Hills and Quail Hollow where Thomas fired a U.S Open record low -10/62 on his way to 9th behind Brooks and fended off Hideki amongst others in North Carolina to win the PGA Championship. Wins at TPC Kuala Lumpur (2015/16) a victory at Kapalua (2017) and a top-3 in California at Silverado marry up well with both Matsuyama and Koepka.

I’ll leave you with Justin’s comments on TPC Scottsdale 12 months ago, “I like this course a lot. When you get in the fairway it’s very, very scoreable. A lot of short irons in your hand, which I feel like is a strength of mine. And then from there it’s just kind of leaving it in the right spots to get easy putts, because you can have some pretty tough putts, tough breaking putts where you’re not as likely to make them. So just really kind of basically have control of your golf game. RESULT: 3rd

Hideki Matsuyama 2.5pt EW 14/1 with Coral Bet £/€5 get £/€20 for new customers, 18+, T&Cs apply** (7 EW, 1/5 odds)

I’m going for a two-pronged approach at the top of the market with Hideki Matsuyama backing up Justin Thomas. With 14 PGA Tour wins between them, all of which have been since 2014, these two elite players undoubtedly know how to get over the line and in the case of Hideki, TPC Scottsdale is his true place of worship. With Woodland and Simpson both around the 20/1 mark, I know where I’d rather invest my cash this week. 4th here on debut in 2014, 2nd here in 2015 (at 28/1), 1st here in 2016 (at 28/1) and 1st here in 2017 (at 11/1), the Japanese is undoubtedly an enigma in this part of Arizona. The World Number 26 has had his problems since his last win back at Firestone South in 2017, but his play at Torrey Pines last week was superb. 8th for Greens in Regulation (his bread and butter), 6th for Strokes Gained on Approach, 12th for Strokes Gained Around the Green and 3rd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, the old Hideki was back again for all to see. Asked what 3rd place behind Rose and Scott last week meant to the 26 year-old, Hideki replied, “I’m really happy that I played well this week, gave me some momentum going into next week and really looking forward to going back for Phoenix. I hit a lot of quality iron shots this week and that was my strength. It was a disappointing year last year in that it didn’t include any victories, and so over the offseason, I’ve worked hard, trained hard. I was looking forward to starting the new season or the new year at Sony. Made the cut there that I don’t usually do, which was good to play all four rounds. Got here to San Diego on Sunday and did some work. Glad to see it’s paying off.

7 of his 13 career wins have been off the back of a top-10 in the tournament before but for me it was the Matsuyama’s Sunday numbers which highlight a surge in confidence. He split 8 of 14 fairways and also hit 17 of 18 greens. 1st for Strokes Gained on Approach and Tee to Green tells you all you need to know, but for me his long bunker shot on the 16th to 7 inches was magnificent. As was his 234 yard second to 17 feet on the closing 18th hole. That’s the kind of play that Matsuyama excels in – he ranks 11th this season for Going for the Green – and pays huge dividends around Scottsdale. So the Japanese star looks in rude health again and I think he’ll be a serious factor come Sunday afternoon in Phoenix. RESULT: T15

Cameron Champ 1pt EW 66/1 with unibet £40 welcome bonus*** for new customers, 18+, T&Cs apply (6 EW, 1/5 odds)

You have to be patient with young talent and despite plenty of excitement and what I think was an over-reaction from the odds compilers, I get the feeling that Cameron Champ will like what he sees at TPC Scottsdale this week. A Waialae track which was never going to be his cup of tea and a troublesome debut on the South Course at Torrey Pines, a track that has swallowed many a talented young golfer, has taken the gloss of his rookie season form. But as we know, top-level ball striking, power off the tee and aggressive play across a number of short par-4s, the driveable par-4 17th and the 3 short par-5s is the key here. Now Cameron is clearly powerful – 1st for Driving Distance, 3rd for Strokes Gained Off the Tee – but he also sits 31st for Total Driving, 14th for Ball Striking and 7th for Going for the Green. That will put him in good stead, especially if we see cold conditions in Arizona this week, with the ball not carrying as far. He also ranks 6th for Par Breakers and he’ll like the move away from Poa Annua this week.

1st at the Sanderson Farms, 10th at the Mayakoba Classic and 6th at the RSM Classic had many punters backing the amazingly talented 23 year-old from Sacramento, California for The Masters. But Cameron needs to keep pushing as at the moment he isn’t in the first Major of 2019 and Scottsdale could be a real opportunity for him. He appeared on golf betting radars at the 2017 U.S. Open hosted at Erin Hills, when he was 8th after 36 holes. His web.com season last year might also offer up more clues for this week. The winner of the Utah Championship at Oakridge Country Club, a Par 71 played at 4,000 feet above sea-level. He also finished 7th at the Wichita Open – a tournament which has a pretty rich history when it comes to the Phoenix Open. Charley Hoffman (2nd here in 2009), Matt Kuchar (3 top 10s here), Scott Piercy (3rd here in 2013 & 2 additional top 10s), Mathew Goggin (4th here in 2010), J.J. Spaun (4th here on debit in 2017) and Ollie Schniederjans (3rd here last year) have all won or finished in the top 4 in Wichita. RESULT: T67

Ryan Palmer 1pt EW 80/1 with boylesports New customers get £25 in free bets: 18+, T&Cs apply**** (7 places EW, 1/5 odds)

Ryan Palmer delighted me and then deposited my betslip into the dustbin with a 3rd Round 76 which ended all chances last week at Torrey Pines. Two strong rounds of -5/67 across both South and North Courses saw Ryan go out in the final group with World Number 1 Justin Rose and Hideki Matsuyama, however the Texan didn’t cope well. You always need a little bit of luck with golf betting, especially when you’re dealing with triple-digit chances, and Ryan clearly felt the Saturday pressure when partnered with a couple of the world’s very best. Undoubtedly though Palmer is playing some excellent stuff and sure enough he shot a final round -4/68 to finish in 13th place. So I’m pleasantly surprised to see Ryan again at a decent enough price on a course he loves very much. 2nd here as long ago as 2006, 14th in 2010, 5th in 2013 and 2nd around this new design in 2015, the upwardly-mobile World Number 72 must arrive in good spirits.

Season 2018/19 on the PGA Tour has started well for Palmer who finished 33rd at TPC Kuala Lumpur, 3rd at Nine Bridges behind Koepka and Woodland and 7th at TPC Summerlin behind the likes of DeChambeau, Cantlay and Fowler. He’s always been labelled within my ‘desert rat’ category and if there’s rain across Friday and Sunday, a soft course will really fall into his wheelhouse. 8th for Par Breakers, 24th for Greens in Regulation and 35th for Going for the Green, Ryan was 2nd for Proximity to Pin and 3rd for SG on Approach last week at Torrey Pines. RESULT: T60

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:20GMT 28.1.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.

Watch these tips on YouTube with Steve Bamford: Golf Betting System YouTube Channel

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