Steve Bamford Golf Tips

Steve Bamford's Waste Management Phoenix Open Tips 2020

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Congratulations to Marc Leishman backers last week at Torrey Pines, who was available as big as 55/1 pre-tournament. Now a 5-time winner on the PGA Tour, he joined the 2020 Australian golf winners revolution which includes Wade Ormsby, Cameron Smith and Lucas Herbert.

I mentioned in last week’s Golf Betting System podcast that it was a choice of Marc Leishman or Ryan Palmer in my each-way returns spot at the Farmers Insurance, and I clearly made a very bad decision! It’s reinforced a growing focus that win equity is so vital when making your selections. We had record podcast download numbers last week, so get involved when we release podcast 110 on Tuesday.

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.

Before we go into more detail around my Waste Management Phoenix Open tips, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System as we head towards the Masters. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

2020 Majors Competition Sponsored By bet365: bet365

Following on from the success of the last 8 annual GBS Majors competitions, bet365 have kindly offered to sponsor the 2020 edition with a massive £250 CASH prize fund! Our 2020 winner will receive £150 (or currency equivalent) in cash with additional £75 and £25 prizes for 2nd and 3rd place finishers.

Basically we want you to pick a single player for each of the 4 Majors any time before the start of the 2020 Masters and get those 4 names entered into the competition by one of the methods detailed on our rules page here. Best of luck all!

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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: 7,261 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 3; Fairways: Bermudagrass with Perennial Rye and fine fescue; Rough: Bermudagrass with Perennial Rye and fine fescue 3″; Greens: 7,069 sq.ft average featuring TifEagle Bermudagrass overseeded with Velvet Bentgrass, Poa Trivialis and Ryegrass; Tournament Stimp: 12ft; 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. 2019: 70.51 (-0.49), Rank of 24 of 49 courses.

waste management phoenix open tips

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: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.
  • Seaside Course: 250 yards from the tee: 42 yards wide; 275:40; 300:34; 325:31; 350:23.
  • TPC Summerlin: 250 yards from the tee: 35 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:30; 350:31.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.

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 -18/266 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 5 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), 10th (2018) and 5th (2019) 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: 2019: Rickie Fowler (-17); 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).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Combined Stats.

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 Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Thomas, Brendan Steele, Xander Schauffele, Rickie Fowler and Bubba Watson.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Turkish Airlines Open, which includes PGA Tour, European Tour (where recorded) and the Dunlop Phoenix (Japan Golf 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) Jon Rahm; 2) Kyle Stanley; 3) Bryson DeChambeau / Adam Hadwin / K.H. Lee / Nick Taylor; 7) Xander Schauffele; 8) Emiliano Grillo / Viktor Hovland; 10) Doc Redman; 11) Ryan Palmer; 12) Chez Reavie; 13) Bubba Watson /  Gary Woodland; 15) Ryan Armour; 14) Matt Kuchar; 15) Brandt Snedeker / Steve Stricker; 17) Tyler Duncan / Joel Dahmen; 19) Scott Piercy / Brian Stuard.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Jon Rahm; 2) Corey Conners; 3) Bubba Watson; 4) Max Homa / Gary Woodland; 6) Daniel Berger; 7) Rickie Fowler / Tony Finau / Collin Morikawa; 10) Hideki Matsuyama / Justin Thomas; 12) Xander Schauffele; 13) Kevin Na; 14) Keegan Bradley / J.B. Holmes; 16) Brendan Steele; 17) Chez Reavie / Webb Simpson; 19) Ryan Palmer; 20) Sung Kang.
  • Scrambling: 1) Xander Schauffele; 2) C.T. Pan; 3) Bud Cauley; 4) Collin Morikawa; 5) Daniel Berger / Tom Hoge / Hideki Matsuyama; 8) Branden Grace; 9) Chez Reavie; 10) Jamie Lovemark / Andrew Putnam; 12) Jon Rahm / Vaughn Taylor; 14) Harris English / Ryan Moore; 16) Adam Schenk; 17) Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Webb Simpson / Brandt Snedeker; 20) Sebastian Munoz.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Webb Simpson; 2) Jon Rahm; 3) Bryson DeChambeau; 4) J.B. Holmes; 5) Ryan Palmer; 6) Brandt Snedeker; 7) Jordan Spieth; 8) J.T. Poston; 9) Chris Stroud; 10) Scottie Scheffler; 11) Brian Gay / Vaughn Taylor; 13) Rickie Fowler / Lanto Griffin; 15) Corey Conners / Ryan Moore; 17) Branden Grace / Viktor Hovland / Kevin Na; 20) Harry Higgs / Sungjae Im / Bubba Watson.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Turkish Airlines Open, which includes both PGA and European Tour events where recorded. Players rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 20 SG Off The Tee: 1) Bubba Watson; 2) Grayson Murray; 3) Adam Hadwin; 4) Viktor Hovland; 5) Ryan Palmer / Justin Thomas; 7) Xander Schauffele; 8) J.B. Holmes; 9) Matthew Wolff; 10) Emiliano Grillo; 11) Max Homa / Scott Harrington; 13) Harry Higgs / Gary Woodland; 15) Daniel Berger; 16) Corey Conners / Tyler McCumber / Collin Morikawa / J.T. Poston; 20) Branden Grace.
  • Top 20 SG Approach: 1) Ryan Moore; 2) Webb Simpson / Bubba Watson; 4) Branden Grace; 5) Kevin Na; 6) Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Tom Hoge / Collin Morikawa; 9) Hideki Matsuyama; 10) Keegan Bradley; 11) Daniel Berger; 12) Russell Knox / Justin Thomas; 14) Emiliano Grillo; 15) Jon Rahm; 16) Jimmy Walker; 17) Chesson Hadley; 18) Gary Woodland; 19) Brandt Snedeker; 20) Luke Donald.
  • Top 20 SG Around The Green: 1) Jordan Spieth; 2) Grayson Murray; 3) Jamie Lovemark; 4) Cameron Smith; 5) Jon Rahm; 6) Tony Finau / C.T. Pan; 8) Luke Donald / Kevin Streelman; 10) Charl Schwartzel; 11) Hideki Matsuyama / Chez Reavie; 13) Roger Sloan / Kevin Tway; 15) Sam Ryder / Webb Simpson; 17) Byeong Hun An; 18) Brandt Snedeker; 19) Branden Grace; 20) Si Woo Kim.
  • Top 20 SG Tee to Green: 1) Bubba Watson; 2) Jon Rahm; 3) Webb Simpson; 4) Grayson Murray; 5) Collin Morikawa; 6) Daniel Berger; 7) Justin Thomas; 8) Branden Grace; 9) Russell Knox; 10) Keegan Bradley / Ryan Moore; 12) Kevin Na; 13) Brandt Snedeker; 14) Brian Harman; 15) Tyler McCumber / Ryan Palmer; 17) Tony Finau / Gary Woodland; 19) Corey Conners / Tom Hoge.
  • Top 20 SG Putting: 1) Jon Rahm / Brandt Snedeker; 3) J.B. Holmes / Andrew Putnam; 5) Branden Grace; 6) Bubba Watson; 7) Corey Conners; 8) Webb Simpson / Cameron Smith; 10) Kevin Na; 11) J.T. Poston; 12) Patrick Rodgers; 13) Sebastian Cappelen; 14) Scottie Scheffler; 15) K.H. Lee; 16) Tom Hoge / Denny McCarthy / Steve Stricker; 19) Xander Schauffele; 20) Viktor Hovland.
  • Top 20 SG Total: 1) Bubba Watson; 2) Jon Rahm / Webb Simpson; 4) Branden Grace / Brandt Snedeker; 6) Corey Conners; 7) Collin Morikawa; 8) Ryan Moore; 9) Kevin Na; 10) Tom Hoge; 11) J.B. Holmes / Russell Knox; 13) Keegan Bradley; 14) Daniel Berger; 15) Tony Finau; 16) Sung Kang / J.T. Poston; 18) Brian Harman / Scottie Scheffler; 20) Xander Schauffele.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Fowler 22/1; 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 6 Renewals Average: 46/1. Overall Average: 51/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2019: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 73. Wind S 5-10 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 71. Wind S 5-10 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High of 67. Wind S 6-12 mph. Sunday: Cloudy with light rain. High of 63. Wind SW 5-10 mph.
  • 2018: 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.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Scottsdale, Arizona is here. I’m expecting better conditions than 2019, with the whole tournament week set to be rain-free. Temperatures will be between 18-22 degrees Celsius, so up a few degrees on last year. Light breeze on Thursday will die away to very little over the rest of the tournament. Turf conditions-wise the course should play as the tournament organisers want it, so expect high-teens as the winning score again.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 5 winners of the Phoenix Open since the course re-design in 2014 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:

  • 2019,  Rickie Fowler (-17). 310 yards (11th), 69.6% fairways (3rd), 72.2% greens in regulation (13th), 39’11” proximity to hole (42nd), 75.0 % scrambling (6th), 1.59 putts per GIR (11th).
  • 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 Averages:

Driving Distance: 16th, Driving Accuracy: 24th, Greens in Regulation: 5th, Proximity to Hole: 14th, Scrambling: 12th, Putting Average 18th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2019, Rickie Fowler (-17). SG Off the Tee: 3rd, SG Approach: 17th, SG Around the Green: 68th, SG Tee to Green: 19th, SG Putting: 1st.
  • 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: 9th, SG Approach: 6th, SG Around the Green: 35th, SG Tee to Green: 6th, SG Putting: 23rd.

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

Rickie Fowler (2019): “I enjoyed it. I think the start getting off 10 and 11, hitting two good 3-woods in play, just nice solid ball flights, started where I wanted to, fell a little right. So it was great to get off to kind of a positive start. Obviously then was able to birdie 12, eagle 13. But I think 10 and 11’s tough to start on early in the morning, so it was nice to get that out of the way, you kind of get off heading the right direction and really just tried to play within myself, not try to do anything special, still working on some stuff on the swing and the last few weeks and trying not to focus too much of that on the golf course, just go play and still getting used to the golf ball as well. So I’m happy with where we’re at and where we’re heading.”

On 18 today I was trying to stay, I was actually trying to stay right of it, just with where the pin was and I toed it really bad. Yeah, I would say the, you know, last year it was out of play, but maybe not by much. Now it’s, I mean the water is completely out of play, I don’t have to think about that, but — I can’t go on Cameron Champ’s line, but I can get kind of the right half of the bunker. Yesterday was a good one, I think it maybe flew around 325 or 330. And the ball does go further here, but I’m happy about that with — I’m not very big, so, yeah, I would say right now not necessarily here because like I said the ball goes further, it used to be where the bunker at 290 if I hit one good I didn’t have to worry about, now I don’t have to worry about carrying it at 300.”

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 10 Waste Management Phoenix Open winners:

  • 2019 – Rickie Fowler: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 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 10 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2019 – Rickie Fowler: Round 1: Level, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 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.

Form of winners since 2010:

  • Rickie Fowler: 66th Torrey/5th World Challenge/16th Mayakoba/4th Shriners.
  • 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. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2019 – Fowler / Thomas / Varner III 2AM/1PM Split  -7/64 – 35/1, 22/1 & 100/1.
  • 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 2016. TPC Scottsdale course history is available via this Tournament Form link:

2016:

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

2017:

  • Chapultepec: Winner: Dustin Johnson; EW Places: Rahm, Thomas, Snedeker.
  • Old White: Winner: Xander Schauffele; EW Places: Munoz, Lovemark, Henley, Finau.
  • Montreux: Winner: Chris Stroud; EW Places: Hoge.
  • Nine Bridges: Justin Thomas; EW Places: Cam Smith, List, Harman, Lovemark.
  • TPC Summerlin: Patrick Cantlay; EW Places: Hadley, Poston, Kizzire, Hoge, DeChambeau.

2018:

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

2019:

  • Chapultepec: Winner: Dustin Johnson; EW Places: Aphibarnrat, Cam Smith.
  • Montreux: Winner: Collin Morikawa; EW Places: Merritt, Hoge, Laird, Palmer, Sloan.
  • Old White: Winner: Joaquin Niemann; EW Places: Hoge, English, Harman, Lashley, Munoz, Scheffler, Shelton.
  • TPC Summerlin: Kevin Na; EW Places: DeChambeau, Hadwin, Stuard, Gay, Simpson.
  • Nine Bridges: Justin Thomas; EW Places: Danny Lee, Matsuyama, Cam Smith, Woodland, An.

So what’s the recipe for success this week? Well, key player attributes rewarded here undoubtedly include driving distance, high-class ball-striking and a high Going for the Green percentage. 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. I think they play more like Bentgrass, with little grain. All winners here since 2010 have featured in the top 13 for Greens in Regulation and I can’t see that changing in 2020. 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, Rickie Fowler 12 months ago had played once in the year prior to arriving in Scottsdale, finishing 66th at Torrey Pines the week before. 2018 had ended with a 5th at Tiger’s Hero World Challenge and 4th at TPC Summerlin.

Gary Woodland in 2018 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 final Waste Management Phoenix Open tips are as follows:

Gary Woodland 2pts EW 30/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfair

Regulars will know that I have backed Gary Woodland at the CJ Cup, Sentry Tournament of Champions and Farmers Insurance Open in recent outings. I’ll keep faith at a tournament where he always seems to go well. 5th (2011), 16th (2013), 1st (2018) and 7th (2019) when defending. Form of 3(CJ Cup)-5(ZOZO)-20(Dunlop Phoenix)-7(Hero)-7(Sentry) preceded the missed cut last week at Torrey Pines.

The South Course can take the very best players and give them a tough time and that’s exactly what happened to Gary, whose putter went stone cold as well. But his underlying game is still good. In the top 20 in my 8-week trackers across Driving Accuracy, Greens in Regulation, SG Off the Tee, SG Approach and SG Tee to Green, I think the challenge of the Stadium Course at Scottsdale plays to Woodland’s strengths perfectly.

Gary has always played well at Kapalua (2nd 2019, 7th 2020), Waialae (3rd 2015, 6th 2017, 7th 2018), PGA West (2nd 2011) and Montreux (1st 2013, 2nd 2016). 2015 also saw him lose to Rory McIlroy at the WGC-Cadillac Matchplay hosted at TPC Harding Park and naturally he’s delivered at both Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach over the years. He’s clearly a West Coast positive player.

I’m also a believer that the Waste Management Phoenix Open and PGA Championship correlate closely, so strong outings at Bellerive (2018) and Bethpage Black (2019) work nicely, as do top 5 finishes at Quail Hollow and Muirfield Village. 2nd for Ball Striking, 10th for Greens in Regulation and 5th for Going for the Green so far this season are the kind of statistics you need to win this, so I’ll run with Woodland for one last week. Result: T40

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Bubba Watson 2pts EW 35/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Bubba Watson at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is almost an automatic bet. As we know with Bubba he comes alive on certain courses, and with 12 PGA Tour victories to his name he’s not afraid to convert contending performances.

3 wins at Riviera Country Club (2014, 2016, 2018), 2 wins at Augusta National (2012 and 2014) and 3 wins at TPC River Highlands (2010, 2015, 2018) highlight the pattern perfectly with Bubba, whose form here at TPC Scottsdale is also very eye-catching. 8th on tournament debut in 2007, 5th in 2012, 15th in 2013, 2nd in 2014, 2nd in 2015, 14th in 2016 and 4th in 2019 highlights a player comfortable in the Phoenix surrounds.

Another course where Watson has tasted victory in the past is Torrey Pines (he was the winner there in 2011), a course where Scottsdale winners Hunter Mahan, Kyle Stanley, Phil Mickelson, Hideki Matsuyama, Gary Woodland and Rickie Fowler have all had success. Last week he was a worthy 6th place finisher, shooting 67-69-69 across his 3 rounds on the South Course. In effect it was the +1/73 on the easier North Course which cost him a proper challenge at the title.

3rd for SG Off the Tee, 6th for SG on Approach, 2nd for Greens in Regulation and 1st for SG Tee to Green in La Jolla last week, I’m thinking that the 41 year-old, from Baghdad, Florida is a must-back both this week and potentially at Riviera in a fortnight. Watson has played for Team USA in 4 of the last 5 Ryder Cups and with the 2020 event taking place at Whistling Straits where Watson lost in a play-off to Martin Kaymer at the 2010 PGA Championship, I’m expecting big things. Result: T3

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Bryson DeChambeau 2pts EW 33/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

Back on home soil, I’m also expecting a big performance from Bryson DeChambeau on his second visit to the Waste Management Phoenix Open. 7th at East Lake, 13th at Silverado, 4th at TPC Summerlin and 8th last week at the Emirates Golf Club, Bryson is playing some solid golf of late and I think his game-shape is ideal for the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale.

Long and straight off the tee – 8th for Driving Distance and 14th for Total Driving so far this PGA Tour season – Bryson is the sort who can surgically manage his way around a course when his ball-striking is at its best. 5th here in his only Phoenix Open appearance 2 years ago, he took to the course well finishing 3rd for SG Off the Tee, 13th for SG on Approach and 5th for SG Tee to Green.  Rewind to February 2018 where Bryson had only captured a single title, in a year when he won a further 4 PGA Tour titles across The Memorial, Northern Trust, Dell Technologies Championship and the Shriners Open. That’s the deal with DeChambeau who undoubtedly brings win equity the like of which similarly priced Tony Finau, Collin Morikawa and Sunjae Im do not.

3 of the Californian’s 5 PGA Tour wins have come on other TPC Network courses – namely Deere Run, Boston and Summerlin – and 4 of the 5 have come on Par 71 formats. 3 of his wins have also come at -18/266 (2017 Deere Run), -18/266 (2018 Northern Trust) and -21/263 (2018 Shriners Open). 7th (2017), 1st (2018) and 4th (2019) in Las Vegas, allied to his victory and 8th in Dubai, highlight a player who’s comfortable in the desert, and I can see the bulked-up 26 year-old seriously challenging for the victory this week. Result: T52

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Adam Hadwin 1pt EW 125/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Adam Hadwin is a Scottsdale, Arizona resident. He’s also carrying ‘new baby swag’ after his wife Jessica gave birth to a baby girl on the 9th January. We all missed him recently at The American Express, as clearly he spent time at home. And I’d have expected circa 25/1 if Hadwin has played at PGA West, so I’m more than interested this week at triple-digits, as the Canadian is very, very at home with desert golf.

A winner of the 2010 Desert Dunes Classic on the Canadian Tour, Adam has finished 6th (2016), 2nd (2017), 3rd (2018) and 2nd (2019) at PGA West with a combined score of -84. 10th (2015) and 4th (2019) at TPC Summerlin is eye-catching. 17th (2016) and 12th (2017) from 4 pay cheques out of 5 appearances here at the Phoenix Open, give cause for positivity. Top 10s at the Soboba Classic and Utah Championship on the Korn Ferry Tour round-off an amazing CV across low-scoring events in the desert of the Western United States.

2019 in my view was a season where Hadwin’s results undoubtedly improved at the top level. 6th under intense pressure at the Hamilton hosted Canadian Open showed maturity back in June. He backed that up with 4th at TPC Twin Cities, 2nd at Silverado and 4th at TPC Summerlin (where I backed him at 45/1). Those results got him the nod from Ernie Els as a Captain’s Pick in December’s President’s Cup where he earned 1.5 pts from 3 appearances, including a tied single’s match with Bryson DeChambeau.

From a statistical point of view, Hadwin sits 38th for Par Breakers, 15th for Ball-Striking, 23rd for Greens in Regulation and 19th for Going for the Green so far this PGA Tour season. At 297 yards off the tee, he’s added a little much needed pop as well, which will come in useful on the Stadium Course. 2nd at PGA West in 2017 on his year debut, I’m hopeful of a run for my money. Result: T40

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 17:50GMT 27.1.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.