Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's WM Phoenix Open Tips 2024

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From the majesty and chaos of the classical Pebble Beach, we travel back to the desert for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Expect dome-like playing conditions and over 700,000 fans at TPC Scottsdale with the amazing par-3 16th Stadium hole. One thing you always get at the Waste Management Phoenix Open though is a close finish and, of late, a high-class, elite winner at altitude on Super Bowl weekend.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Waste Management Phoenix Open, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System. Welcome and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System Podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, +6,300 strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

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 7,261 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 especially California to date. Talking of challenges, players also need to embrace the atmosphere on the Stadium Course with over 700,000 spectators 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, Mid-Score, Altitude, Short; Par: 71; Length: 7,261 yards; Holes with Water Hazards In-Play: 6; Number of Bunkers: 67; Acres of Fairway: 28; Fairways: Bermudagrass with Perennial Rye and fine fescue; Rough: Bermudagrass overseeded with Perennial Rye and fine fescue 2″; Greens: 7,069 sq.ft average featuring TifEagle Bermudagrass overseeded with 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. 2020: 70.32 (-0.64), Rank 18 of 41 courses. 2021: 69.46 (-1.54), Rank of 42 of 51 courses. 2022: 70.29 (-0.71), Rank 26 of 50 courses. 2023: 70.98 (-0.02), Rank 17 of 49 courses.

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

  • North Course, Torrey Pines 2017-2023 Farmers Insurance Open

Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for 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.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • Pete Dye 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.
  • CC of Jackson: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:29; 325:28; 350:25.
  • Silverado: 250 yards from the tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:24; 325:25; 350:24.
  • East Lake: 250 yards from the tee: 28 yards wide; 275:26; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Southwind: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:28; 325:31; 350:25.

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 renovated course features an additional 114 yards of length, with fresh green surfaces featuring TifEagle Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis. These green complexes have now been in place for just over 9 years so shouldn’t offer up too many surprises. They run pretty quick, unless rain comes and softens the course.

Undoubtedly the 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 2nd to 10th in terms of difficulty rank on the PGA Tour since the Weiskopf work highlights 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, especially when they can attack a set of par-5s which read 558, 558 and 553 yards on the scorecard, at altitude.

waste management phoenix open tips

Waste Management Phoenix Open Winners: 2023: Scottie Scheffler (-19); 2022: Scottie Scheffler (-16); 2021: Brooks Koepka (-19); 2020: Webb Simpson (-17); 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).

  • 2023: Scottie Scheffler 68-64-68-65 -19/265
  • 2022: Scottie Scheffler 68-71-62-67 -16/268
  • 2021: Brooks Koepka 68-66-66-65 -19/265
  • 2020: Webb Simpson 71-63-64-69 -17/267
  • 2019: Rickie Fowler 64-65-64-74 -17/267

Path to Victory: Below are the end-of-round positions for Waste Management Phoenix Open winners since 2010:

  • 2023 – Scottie Scheffler: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2022 – Scottie Scheffler: Round 1: 18th, Round 2: 44th, Round 3: 3rd.
  • 2021 – Brooks Koepka: Round 1: 21st, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 7th.
  • 2020 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: 66th, Round 2: 8th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 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 Waste Management Phoenix Open winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament since 2010:

  • 2023 – Scottie Scheffler: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: Level, Round 3: 2 ahead.
  • 2022 – Scottie Scheffler: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 9 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2021 – Brooks Koepka: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 5 back.
  • 2020 – Webb Simpson: Round 1: 10 back, Round 2: 5 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 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.

OWGR of Waste Management Phoenix Open Winners: 2023: Scheffler 2; 2022: Scheffler 15; 2021: Koepka 13; 2020: Simpson 11; 2019: Fowler 14; 2018: Woodland 53; 2017: Matsuyama 5.

Cut Line: 2023: E; 2022: -2; 2021: -3; 2020: -1; 2019: -1; 2018: -1; 2017: -1.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2023: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -13; Round 4 -19.
  • 2022: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -16.
  • 2021: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -12; Round 3 -18; Round 4 -19.
  • 2020: Round 1 -10; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -17.
  • 2019: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -13; Round 3 -20; Round 4 -17.
  • 2018: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -18.
  • 2017: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -16; Round 4 -17.

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.

My published predictor is available here. Scottie Scheffler, Justin Thomas, Lucas Glover, Max Homa, Akshay Bhatia, J.T. Poston, Sungjae Im, Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Wyndham Clark.

Our brand new predictor model is running alongside, where you can build your own rankings in live time, using the variables listed on the left hand side.

Waste Management Phoenix Open Winners & Prices: 2023: Scheffler 16/1; 2022: Scheffler 30/1; 2021: Koepka 50/1; 2020: Simpson 14/1; 2019: Fowler 22/1; 2018: Woodland 50/1; 2017: Matsuyama 11/1; 2016: Matsuyama 28/1; 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: 26/1; Overall Average: 45/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2023: Thursday: Sunny. High of 70. Wind NE 10-20 mph, with gusts to 30 mph. The start of play was delayed due to frost for one hour and 50 minutes. Play was suspended due to darkness at 6:07 p.m., with the entire afternoon wave yet to complete their round. Friday: High of 55. Wind NE 12-22 mph. Play was suspended due to darkness at 6:07 p.m., with the entire afternoon wave yet to complete their round. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 64. Wind E 10-20 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 76. Wind ESE 8-15 mph.
  • 2022: Thursday: Sunny. High of 80. Wind SW 4-8 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 79. Wind SW 4-8 mph. Saturday: Sunny with a high of 82. Wind NE 10-20 mph. Sunday: Sunny with a high of 80. Wind SW 4-8 mph.
  • 2021: Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 70. Wind W 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny with a high of 70. Wind W 6-12 mph. Saturday: Sunny with a high of 72. Wind W 4-8 mph. Sunday: Sunny with a high of 73. Wind SW 4-8 mph.
  • 2020: Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 73. Wind S 5-10 mph. Friday: Mostly sunny, with a high of 72. Wind W 3-6 mph. Saturday: Sunny, with a high of 76. Wind S 4-8 mph. Sunday: Sunny, with a high of 76. Wind S 6-12 mph.
  • 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.

2024 looks to be a change in terms of typical conditions here at the Stadium Course. Rain has been falling in the desert with 15mm (0.6″) Thursday/Friday of last week and 30mm (1.2″) across January. That in itself doesn’t amount to much, but with 80% chance of rain on tournament Tuesday afternoon through to Wednesday morning, I’m expecting far less roll on the fairways and softer than optimal greens. Cloud and threat of rain is consistent throughout the 4 days of competition. Plus I’ve never seen forecasted temperatures as low for a Phoenix Open. Just 10-13 degrees throughout the 4 days is just 50-55 Fahrenheit. Now this course is short and at altitude, so with far softer turf than standard here I can see lower scoring than we are used to.

Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Bermuda Championship/Nedbank Challenge which includes both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events, where recorded, plus the Hero World Challenge. Player rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Adam Scott; 2) Wyndham Clark; 3) Min Woo Lee; 4) Corey Conners; 5) Jordan Spieth; 6) Max Homa / Cam Young; 8) Keith Mitchell; 9) Justin Thomas; 10) Akshay Bhatia / Kurt Kitayama; 12) Byeong Hun An / Vincent Norrman; 14) Cameron Champ / Si Woo Kim / Tom Kim; 17) Sungjae Im; 18) Scottie Scheffler / Erik van Rooyen / Kevin Yu; 21) Doug Ghim / Luke List / Aaron Rai; 24) Taylor Moore / Grayson Murray.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Victor Perez; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 4) Jordan Spieth; 5) Adam Scott; 6) Kurt Kitayama / Justin Thomas; 8) Greyson Sigg; 9) Corey Conners; 10) Wyndham Clark; 11) Erik van Rooyen; 12) Tom Hoge / Luke List; 14) Nick Taylor; 15) Matt Fitzpatrick / Max Homa; 17) Brendon Todd; 18) Lucas Glover; 19) Luke Donald / Adam Svensson; 21) Alex Bjork / Nick Hardy; 23) Eric Cole / Brandon Wu; 25) Cameron Young.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Byeong Hun An; 3) Jordan Spieth; 4) Max Homa; 5) Lucas Glover; 6) Luke Donald; 7) Kurt Kitayama / Hideki Matsuyama; 9) Aaron Baddeley; 10) Scottie Scheffler; 11) Shane Lowry; 12) Wyndham Clark / Sam Stevens; 14) Ryan Fox; 15) Min Woo Lee / Ryan Moore; 17) Troy Merritt; 18) Matt Fitzpatrick / Beau Hossler; 20) Seamus Power; 21) Victor Perez / J.J. Spaun; 23) Doug Ghim / J.B. Holmes / Andrew Putnam.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Kurt Kitayama / Adam Scott; 5) Wyndham Clark / Max Homa / Jordan Spieth; 8) Corey Conners; 9) Victor Perez; 10) Byeong Hun An; 11) Hideki Matsuyama; 12) Luke List; 13) Lucas Glover; 14) Akshay Bhatia; 15) Si Woo Kim / Min Woo Lee; 17) Erik van Rooyen; 18) Matt Fitzpatrick / Tom Kim; 20) Aaron Rai; 21) Ryan Fox / Nick Hardy / Keith Mitchell / Cameron Young; 25) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Adam Svensson / Kevin Yu.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Stewart Cink; 2) Sam Burns; 3) J.T. Poston; 4) Byeong Hun An; 5) Emiliano Grillo; 6) Andrew Putnam; 7) Adam Scott; 8) Jordan Spieth; 9) Nick Taylor / Justin Thomas; 11) Ben Griffin / S.H. Kim; 13) Max Homa; 14) Denny McCarthy / Brendon Todd; 16) Tom Hoge; 17) Christiaan Bezuidenhout / Beau Hossler / Taylor Montgomery / Matt Wallace; 21) Harris English; 22) Will Gordon / Adam Schenk; 24) Sahith Theegala; 25) Eric Cole.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Scottie Scheffler / Adam Scott; 4) J.T. Poston; 5) Byeong Hun An; 6) Jordan Spieth; 7) Max Homa; 8) Sam Burns; 9) Kurt Kitayama; 10) Beau Hossler; 11) Wyndham Clark; 12) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 13) Denny McCarthy; 14) Erik van Rooyen; 15) Eric Cole / Austin Eckroat / Taylor Montgomery; 18) Min Woo Lee; 19) Akshay Bhatia / Emiliano Grillo / Michael Kim / Alex Noren; 23) Nick Hardy / Andrew Putnam; 25) Sungjae Im / Sahith Theegala.

Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the Strokes Gained Stats of the Waste Management Phoenix Open winners since 2016 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this short, desert, Par 71:

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2023, Scottie Scheffler (-19). SG Off the Tee: 18th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 19th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 13th.
  • 2022, Scottie Scheffler (-16). SG Off the Tee: 4th, SG Approach: 55th, SG Around the Green: 8th, SG Tee to Green: 13th, SG Putting: 2nd.
  • 2021, Brooks Koepka (-19). SG Off the Tee: 11th, SG Approach: 2nd, SG Around the Green: 32nd, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 18th.
  • 2020, Webb Simpson (-17). SG Off the Tee: 19th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 11th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 12th.
  • 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: 11th, SG Approach: 10th, SG Around the Green: 26th, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 17th.

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

  • 2023, Scottie Scheffler (-19). 317 yards (26th), 53.6% fairways (45th), 77.8% greens in regulation (3rd), 39’2″ proximity to hole (12th), 87.5% scrambling (1st), 1.71 putts per GIR (13th).
  • 2022, Scottie Scheffler (-16). 328 yards (8th), 62.5% fairways (18th), 77.8% greens in regulation (11th), 37’10” proximity to hole (31st), 50.0 % scrambling (53rd), 1.66 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2021, Brooks Koepka (-19). 321 yards (6th), 62.5% fairways (27th), 86.1% greens in regulation (1st), 33’2″ proximity to hole (5th), 50.0 % scrambling (50th), 1.69 putts per GIR (10th).
  • 2020, Webb Simpson (-17). 307 yards (44th), 71.4% fairways (3rd), 77.8% greens in regulation (6th), 35’4″ proximity to hole (7th), 68.8 % scrambling (14th), 1.66 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 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: 18th, Driving Accuracy: 24th, Greens in Regulation: 5th, Proximity to Hole: 14th, Scrambling: 20th, Putting Average 13th.

So let’s take a view from players as to how TPC Scottsdale sets up, plus what skill sets they favour:

Scottie Scheffler (2023): “The golf course is in great shape. Greens are always really firm, and you’ve got to deal with the environment here, but it’s something you’ve got to embrace. It’s a lot of fun. I think a few times a year being able to play with this big of a crowd is pretty special for us as players.

Yeah, I’ve never laid up on 17. I think one of the things that’s so great about this golf course is getting the reward for good play. I think you see that a lot on the back nine; when you’re hitting really good shots, you get rewarded for it. You can birdie almost every hole on the back nine when you’re hitting the right shots, and then all of a sudden you start hitting it off line and it becomes difficult. So as a player, I think that’s what you really appreciate about courses, and 17 is a hole like that where if you hit a really good tee shot, you’re going to have an eagle look or have an easy up-and-down for birdie, and if you don’t hit a good tee shot, you’re going to be struggling for par.

I think around this place when you’re hitting fairways and you’re hitting it well the golf course can kind of open up for you. But the opposite can happen in a hurry because there’s trouble lurking on basically every hole. With there being desert close by. There’s a lot of holes with water as well. When you’re hitting it well you have to take advantage of it like I did today. Hopefully I’ll keep putting the ball in position as the week goes on.”

Scottie Scheffler (2022): “I mean with the way the wind was blowing it was a good wind for me on the first four holes with it being kind of off the right. But then you turn and you’re playing 14 through 17, with it in off the left is really awkward win for a righty. And so with how firm and fast the greens are, yeah, it was probably some of the best nine holes that I’ve had, just with, I mean, the way the wind direction was. Some of those holes can be pretty awkward.”

“Honestly in the playoff I would prefer a hole that would go left to right because Patrick likes to draw the ball off the tee and I like to fade it, so I would have liked for it to have been a different hole. But obviously I performed well in the playoff, so I’m still pleased with that one”

Brooks Koepka (2021): “I need the mojo. I need the energy. You make a birdie, all right, there is a little bit of excitement. You know, bogey, there is a little bit of embarrassment. All right, let’s correct it real quick. It hasn’t been that way. It’s been very flat and ho-hum.”

“I always thought I had a chance. I felt like the front nine I was just hanging in there. I think 2 kind of woke me up a little bit on 3 three, helped me there. I think on 12, Ricky said something to me about, We’re right there. We just need a little bit of momentum or a putt to go our way. Never know what’s going to happen. I thought if I got a good tee shot away on 13 I thought I was going to have a chance. Hit a great shot in there and just left the putt short. I think that tee box got me going. I saw where everybody was. There was a leaderboard. I didn’t really pay attention from when I left 9 until I got to the green on 12. I thought the lead was just going to keep going. I didn’t realize, James (Hahn) had I think a two-shot lead at that point over everybody else. I just figured if I could get somewhat close to James I might have a chance, you know, being par-5s, being able to hit it far. 17 was a good chance. I mean, I don’t know, I thrive on 16. Just the atmosphere. I love that, so I liked my chances even though I was well back. I never felt out of it.”

Webb Simpson (2020): “The golf course has gotten more firm every day, so it’s going to be challenging tomorrow, but guys I think are still looking at it as plenty of birdie opportunities. This course is playing shorter so we’re having shorter clubs in, even though the greens are more firm. But, yeah, I mean I didn’t think today teeing it up that I was going to go try to shoot 6- or 7-under. As boring as it sounds, all I really focus on is the first shot and you try to attack when you can attack and then the tougher holes you try to make par. And then you get hot for two days like I have and shoot 15-under and give myself a chance and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

I compartmentalize everything. So if I got a sand wedge in my hand I’m going to be going right at it. If I got an 8-iron or 7-iron a little more conservative. If I need to adjust on the last few holes, I will, but the last two days I let the birdies come to me and it’s hard in this game when you try to force it. But there’s plenty of birdie holes, like I said, so if I keep playing solid there’s great opportunities for tomorrow.”

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.”

Incoming Form of Waste Management Phoenix Open winners since 2010:

  • Scottie Scheffler: 11th PGA West/7th Kapalua /2nd World Challenge/9th Houston.
  • Scottie Scheffler: 20th Torrey/25th PGA West/2nd World Challenge/57th RSM Classic.
  • Brooks Koepka: MC Torrey/MC PGA West/MC Mayakoba/7th Augusta.
  • Webb Simpson: 3rd Waialae/10th World Challenge/2nd RSM Classic/7th Shriners.
  • 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.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of altitude golf courses on the PGA Tour since 2019, with players in the field this week. TPC Scottsdale course history is available via this Tournament Form link:

2019:

  • Chapultepec: Winner: Dustin Johnson; EW Places: Thomas (9th).
  • Montreux: Winner: Collin Morikawa; EW Places: Merritt, Hoge, Laird.
  • Old White: Winner: Joaquin Niemann; EW Places: Hoge, English, Harman, Lashley, Scheffler.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner Kevin Na; EW Places: Cantlay, Hadwin.
  • Nine Bridges: Winner Justin Thomas; EW Places: Matsuyama, Woodland, An, Clark, Ryan Moore, Spieth.

2020:

  • Chapultepec: Winner: Patrick Reed; EW Places: van Rooyen, McIlroy, Matsuyama, Thomas.
  • Old Greenwood: Winner: Richy Werenski; EW Places: Merritt, Stallings, McNealy.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner Martin Laird; EW Places: Malnati, Si Woo Kim, NeSmith, Suh.
  • Shadow Creek: Winner Jason Kokrak; EW Places: Schauffele, Lanto Griffin.

2021:

  • Old Greenwood: Winner: Erik van Rooyen; EW Places: Putnam, Schenk, Dahmen, Woodland.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner Sungjae Im; EW Places: Schenk, Lanto Griffin, Hadwin, Buckley.
  • Summit Club: Winner Rory McIlroy; EW Places: Fowler, Mitchell, Burns, Scott.

2022:

  • Old Greenwood: Winner: Chez Reavie; EW Places: Noren, Laird, Hubbard.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner Tom Kim; EW Places: NeSmith, Hoge, S.H. Kim, Im, Si Woo Kim.

2023:

  • Old Greenwood: Winner: Akshay Bhatia; EW Places: Rodgers, Hadley, Hossler, van Rooyen.
  • TPC Summerlin: Winner Tom Kim; EW Places: Hadwin, Cole, Noren, Poston, Dahmen, Hadley, Hossler, K.H. Lee.

So what’s the recipe for success this week? Well key player attributes rewarded here undoubtedly include driving distance (Simpson showed not 100% essential), high-class ball-striking and an aggressive Going for the Green percentage. Players who can hit the ball 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 Poa Trivialis. All winners here since 2010 have featured in the top 13 for Greens in Regulation and I can’t see that changing in 2024. For course form buffs, 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, let’s talk defending champion Scottie Scheffler who goes for a 3-peat of Waste Management Phoenix Open wins this week. 2023 saw Scottie finish 7th at Kapalua and 11th at PGA West prior to defending here in Arizona. He has also finished 2nd at Albany (Hero World Challenge) in December and 3rd at Mayakoba (WWT Championship).

The Texan also had decent enough form on his 2022 outings finishing 20th at Torrey Pines and 25th at PGA West prior to taking his maiden PGA Tour title here. Autumn form though had seen him a level above that, finishing 2nd at Albany (Hero World Challenge), 2nd at Memorial Park (Houston Open) and 4th at El Camaleon (WWT Championship at Mayakoba). A first PGA Tour win was undoubtedly trending at 30/1.

Brooks Koepka had missed the cut at both of 2021 outings, namely PGA West and Torrey Pines. His play in the autumn of 2020 has been better though with 7th at Augusta National and 5th at Houston, prior to a missed cut at El Camaleon. His 50/1 price for a 4-time Major champion and previous TPC Scottsdale winner (2015) had plenty of punters backing his ceiling.

Webb Simpson was on fire and went off at 14/1. A PGA Tour form-line of 3rd at Waialae on calendar debut, 2nd at Sea Island, and 7th last time he visited the desert at TPC Summerlin saw him go off as the 3rd favourite in the betting. Rickie Fowler in 2019 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 WM Phoenix Open Tips Are As Follows:

Justin Thomas 3pts EW 12/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

If we’re working on the assumption that Scottie Scheffler will not win here for the third consecutive year – this course could have been made for the World Number 1 – I’m going to run with a narrative that I’ve always liked here at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Scheffler’s first win here – we were on-board at 30/1 – was his maiden PGA Tour success. Before that Koepka, Simpson, Fowler and Woodland had not won on the PGA Tour for 19 months, 20 months, 23 months and 3.5 years respectively.

Even Hideki Matsuyama’s first win here in 2016 came 19 months after his maiden PGA Tour victory at the 2014 Memorial Tournament. This was also Brooks Koepka’s maiden win on the PGA Tour in 2015. So backing Wyndham Clark for back-to-back wins, although tempting given his price, would be the polar opposite of what we have seen in the past.

Justin Thomas then has to be my main selection this week. Winless since the 2022 PGA Championship, I make that 21 months or so, JT has been through some trials and tribulations of late. He dropped outside the World’s top 25 players as recently as late November and didn’t make the FedEx Cup Playoffs last season. Contending performances which were once automatic simply went away and Thomas spoke openly of re-built swings, soul searching with his father and swing mentor Mike, plus chats with good friends Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, all about trying to find his game and change the momentum of his career.

There were signs of improvement at the Fortinet Championship back in September where he finished 5th behind our selection Sahith Theegala, and those signs continued at the Ryder Cup where Thomas won 1.5 points including a singles win over Sepp Straka. Into the winter, 4th at the DP World Tour Nedbank Challenge was followed by 3rd at the Hero World Challenge. 2024 has then seen 3rd at The American Express which saw Justin start in the last group with Sam Burns and Nick Dunlap, plus 6th at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week.

5th in our Strokes Gained Rankings in this field here at TPC Scottsdale, Justin has finished 3rd (2019), 3rd (2020), 13th (2021), 8th (2022) and 4th here across his last 5 consecutive appearances. Thomas also ranks number 1 for both Strokes Gained Tee to Green and Strokes Gained Total in this field in my 8-week trackers. RESULT: T12

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Sam Burns 2pts EW 20/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Sam Burns is also trending for a much needed PGA Tour victory. Yes he won the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club last year, taking advantage of his best friend Scottie Scheffler inexplicably missing a 3 feet putt on the 20th hole (2nd of extra-time) for victory in their Semi-Final. But World Number 20 Burns hasn’t won a stroke play event since the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club, and we know he tends to win on short to medium length courses and prefers easier scoring tests, with 3 of his 4 stroke play victories coming at -17, -17 and -22.

Like his best mate, Burns also absolutely thrives on Bermudagrass overseeded with Poa Trivialis greens like you get here at TPC Scottsdale. Where 4 of Scheffler’s 6 PGA Tour victories have come on these Poa Trivialis overseed greens, Burns has won 3 of his 5 PGA Tour titles on them, namely the 2021 and 2022 Valspar Championship at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, plus the aforementioned WGC Match Play victory at Austin Country Club. It doesn’t stop there as Sam has also finished 6th (2020) and 6th (2024) at PGA West, 9th (2019) at Harbour Town, 2nd (with Billy Horschel) and 4th (with Bill Horschel) at TPC Louisiana and 6th here last year at TPC Scottsdale, on these specialised overseed putting surfaces.

12th and 8th for Ball Striking at The American Express and AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am across his past 2 outings when finishing 6th and 10th respectively, Sam is aggressive enough to score heaving around TPC Scottsdale, especially in this field where he ranks 2nd for Strokes Gained Putting and 8th for Strokes Gained Current Form across my 8-week trackers. RESULT: T3

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Si Woo Kim 1pt EW 60/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Si Woo Kim as we know is another specialised individual. On short courses where birdies are the currency, Si Woo can get the job done, especially when the greens feature Bermudagrass. Sedgefield (2016), TPC Sawgrass (2017), and Waialae (2023) are all short courses which feature Bermudagrass greens, and Si Woo has also won on these purer Poa Trivialis overseed greens at PGA West in 2021. His non-Players Championship wins have come with scores of -21, -23 and -18, so he likes events where scoring is a little easier, so the softer course at Scottsdale this week should help the World Number 46 in that respect.

That link to TPC Sawgrass is also fascinating as post-2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open champions Scottie Scheffler, Webb Simpson, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson have all won at TPC Sawgrass – great also for top selection Justin Thomas.

Si Woo is hitting the ball straight at the moment from the tee, averaging 295 yards with all drives, which is enough for Scottsdale this week. But it’s his approaches since Kapalua which have really caught my eye. 11th, 15th and 5th for Greens in Regulation across Waialae, PGA West and Pebble Beach, last week saw him rank 8th for Strokes Gained on Approach and 3rd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green. With team no-putt an option this week, I like Si Woo’s chances to contend on a course he clearly likes – he has played 8 straight Phoenix Opens – and finished a best ever 23rd last term. RESULT: T12

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Kevin Yu 1pt EW 80/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

Team no-putt is definitely in play this week and that brings me very quickly to Kevin Yu, who regulars will know I’ve been pointing out for a while now. One of the very best drivers on the PGA Tour, Yu ranked 14th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green across the whole of last season, alongside the likes of Corey Conners (13th) and Max Homa (15th). He also ranked 4th for Ball Striking, 4th for Greens in Regulation and 11th for Par Breakers – that’s genuinely elite. So despite making his debut at TPC Scottsdale this week, I think the course will suit him down to the ground.

Now into his second season on the PGA Tour, Kevin, who lives in Scottsdale and went to Arizona State University, has already shown a liking for shorter courses, lower-scoring assignments, and the West Coast swing in general. 7th at Pebble Beach last year, this season has already seen the upwardly-mobile World Number 113 finish 3rd in the desert at PGA West and 6th at Torrey Pines. A number of top 3 finishes on the Korn Ferry Tour across Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri highlight a player who can do the mathematics in terms of altitude golf. Plus the 25 year-old ranked 2nd for Stokes Gained on Approach and 11th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:00GMT 5.2.24 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.