Having focused on Europe at the start of 2018, we now switch to the PGA Tour in the US with the majority of golf’s big names back this week and lining up for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
For the last two years, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama has taken the title and broken an American stranglehold but can he match Arnold Palmer’s feat of three in a row in the early 1960’s?
We just missed out on a profit at +450 on Rory McIlroy to win in Dubai last week but we did take a smaller return at -110 on Tommy Fleetwood in the Top Ten markets so let’s see if we can build on that over in Arizona.
It’s very tight at the top of the Phoenix Open betting market. With some of the American sportsbooks, three players are locked at the same price although most have Jordan Spieth as the narrow favourite (+900 with Bovada). Spieth has two top ten finishes in this event but it’s been over six months now since he landed a win on any tour.
Unsurprisingly, Hideki Matsuyama (+900) heads the Power Rankings and along with those two wins came a second place behind Brooks Koepka in 2015. Immediate form doesn’t suggest a successful defence but those returns clearly mean we can’t rule him out.
One man who isn’t suffering a drought is Jon Rahm who is among the three favourites at +1000 going into Thursday. Anyone looking for a form horse should get behind the Spaniard who took out the CareerBuilder Challenge this month to complete a sequence of two wins and a second place in three tournaments.
Behind the top three we have a gap to two of the best performing golfers in 2017. Rickie Fowler is some four points ahead of Justin Thomas and while the two haven’t made any significant ground in 2018 just yet, they are strong options at very good prices of +1400.
Fowler looks the better pick as he’s second in the Power Rankings this week and has by far the better record in this event but we may well come back to Thomas later on in this Phoenix Open preview.
Also in mid-range is Marc Leishman (30/1) who has six top tens in his last nine events and was in contention for three rounds here last year before fading badly on the final 18.
As a three time winner of this event, Phil Mickelson will attract some interest as a distant punt while Alex Noren, who looks to be committing to the US this year, is slightly shorter after coming so close to taking out the Farmers Insurance Open.
As we move down the betting list, we just know there is some value from golfers who enjoyed success last year but have yet to shine in 2018. This is a great time to pick a big price but it’s just a case of finding the right man.
Kevin Chappell was productive last year in the Top Ten betting markets while Ryan Palmer performed well at the weekend and features strongly in the Power Rankings. At similar 50/1 prices are Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley and Matt Kuchar and while that’s indicative of a strong field, we are keen on landing some value in the Phoenix Open.
Our Preview’s Phoenix Open Predictions, Course & Betting Trends
The very first edition of the Phoenix Open was held in 1932 and after various changes in venues, TPC Scottsdale has hosted the event since 1987. This is a par 71 course but has relative length at a shade under 7,300 yards after the course was extended in 2015.
As part of that 2015 renovation, new bunkers were added and there has always been water in play here but there hasn’t been much change to the scoring which can be extremely low. Like many events in the modern era, power hitting and accuracy shouldn’t be important but we are looking for Greens in Regulation as a key stat.
Matsuyama has been consistent in that area over three successful years but a ‘three-peat’ is a rare beast and we are looking elsewhere. Justin Thomas has a poor record in this event but records will be broken and it’s only a matter of time before he’s back to 2018 form.
Thomas for a win and place is the main tip but there are so many strong prices through the field that we’re adding some promising Top Tens. This is how our preview’s Phoenix Open predictions stack up: