Steven’s Weekly PGA Primer: Waste Management Phoenix Open
Weekly Primer: Waste Management Phoenix Open
The goal with my weekly primer is to provide you with a one-stop guide to equip you with all of the information that you need to make your picks and assemble your lineups. From course previews, to history, stats, and pick suggestions, this guide will provide a concrete base as you conduct your own research and submit your winning picks and lineups.
Farmers Insurance Open Recap
While not all six of my recommended picks made the cut, we did hit the winner in Justin Rose and kept riding the Woodland train as well as the mispriced Hideki Matsuyama for two other additional Top 10 finishes. Trey Mullinax delivered on his price with a T-25 as well.
In a year that was full of personal ups and downs for Gary Woodland, it was great to see him reach the winner’s circle here after defeating Chez Reavie in a playoff. Woodland was the first golfer to win the WMO while recording a triple bogey or worse which he did on Friday before making a charge over the weekend and into Sunday. It was Woodland’s first win since 2013. Woodland’s current form makes him a good candidate to be the second consecutive back-to-back winner at this event as Hideki Matsuyama won consecutively in 2016 and 2017.
Dates: January 31-February 3
Where: Scottsdale, Arizona
Course: TPC Scottsdale
Architect: Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish/1986
Par/Yards: Par 71; 7,266 yards
Field: 129 golfers, Top 70 and ties make the cut
Defending Champion: Gary Woodland
Purse: $7,100,000 ($1,278,000 to the winner)
FedEx Cup Points: 500 points to the winner
Located in Scottsdale, Arizona, and home of the loudest and most atypical hole in all of golf. For those of you that have not watched this tournament before, the Par 3 16th hole is an all-out fraternity party. Golfers pump up the crowd and tee off to loud yelling and cheering which looks like a scene straight out of Happy Gilmore. If you miss the green you get booed. If you hit the green and get close then the stadium will erupt into cheers. It is definitely one of the more exciting tournaments if for no other reason than the camera setup on the 16th hole where you can watch everyone hit their tee shots. Other than the 16th, only one of these Par 4s will play under 400 yards and water entrenches the back 9 on six of the final nine holes. This course will be a true test to iron play and reward those that can stick approaches close and that can score on Par 5s as evidenced by Gary Woodland shooting -10 on his 12 attempts on the Par 5s last year.
Weather shouldn’t come into play too much this week. One day calls for rain which may make the course a little wet on Saturday.
OWGR: Top 50 in the Field
Key Stats From Past Winners
The stats that stick out from the last three winners of this tournament and that I will be keying on this week are:
- SG: Ball Striking
- Par 5s Gained
- Par 4s: 450-500 Yards
- SG: Approach
- Opportunities Gained
A few other important stats that I may factor in are also bogey avoidance, birdies gained, and Greens-in-Regulation. For those of you that are not familiar with the opportunities gained stat, this stat ranks approach shots hit within 15 feet of the hole to the green or to the fringe.
Course History Targets
Course history can be extremely insightful when evaluating how a course fits a particular player and if a player has “an eye” for the course itself. Here is a breakdown of some notable players that have performed well and finished inside the Top-30 at this tournament in the past.
Recent Performance Targets
Just as important, if not more so, when selecting a roster is recent performance. You will see certain golfers go on a tear and post consecutive high-finishing results. This can translate to good form and a mental advantage as they tee it up the next week. Here is breakdown of some notable players that have been performing well as of recent and have at least one Top-20 in their last five starts.
Before I even begin making picks I will break down the field into six tiers A-F. When you have fields of 100+ golfers then it can be overwhelming to scroll back-and-forth and up-and-down when making picks. DraftKings has a useful tool where you can export the entire DK roster with salaries to a CSV and open in Excel which I would highly recommend and then break down the picks from there.
When I am assembling my lineups or placing my bets, I will look at just about every stat that I can while also looking at course history and recent performance. There are certain players that just perform well at certain courses. Webb Simpson at the Wyndham, Zach Johnson at the John Deere, Jordan Spieth at the Master’s, Bubba Watson at any course that he has won, etc. You also have to look at how players are performing leading up to the tournament.
Two other factors that I take into account are the OWGR and the betting odds. Vegas always knows something that you don’t, so when I see a golfer in the sub-8k range and see he has the same odds as golfers in the 9-10k range then he is someone that I have to consider.
I am taking Justin Thomas this week although it is a difficult call. JT ranks out highly in just about every statistical category. Hideki has owned this course in the past and finished well last year which may make him a more popular pick than JT this week. It is hard to look over JTs ranking over the last 50 rounds that included 4th in birdies gained, 6th in eagles gained, 4th in BoB gained, and 15th in bogey avoidance. This with his other key stats puts me on board rostering JT this week.
Also Consider: Hideki Matsuyama—$10,700 (OWGR: 26, 12/1)
From the $9,000 range, I am once again going to play Gary Woodland. Reigning champion, great form, and sub-$10k. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him lower owned than what he deserves considering the hot streak he has been on. I believe many will come off expecting him to taper off eventually paired with the “defending champ” narrative where he has more media engagements and distractions that he may be used to. That won’t keep me off Woodland that also ranks 1st on BoB gained, 4th in eagles gained, 3rd in birdies gained, and 8th in GIR over the last 50 rounds. Woodland should keep it going this week and post another Top 10 to his already great start to 2019.
Also Consider: Rickie Fowler—$9,400 (OWGR: 14, 20/1)
I haven’t been playing him very much lately but the stats and recent finish will have me rostering Billy Horschel this week. He is always capable of missing the cut badly and finishing near last but he just as equally capable of posting a Top 5 so it is a truly give-and-take here with Billy Ho. He is coming off a T-8 last week and ranks 1st in GIR, 2nd in bogey avoidance, and 20th in proximity over the last 50 rounds. He ranks 2nd in my model overall.
Also Consider: Chez Reavie—$8,400 (OWGR: 56, 45/1)
Talor Gooch is a guy that I have not rostered, if ever, in the past just relative to his value. However, this week he is hard to overlook with his back-to-back Top 5s coming in the WMO and his stats. Over the last 24 rounds Gooch has ranked 14th in GIR, 3rd in BoB, 6th in birdies gained, and 11th in bogey avoidance. I like his price, form, and chance to post a Top 10.
Also Consider: Tyrell Hatton—$7,900 (OWGR: 31, 66/1)
This is more of a gut pick with Ryan Moore. He missed the cut last week and hasn’t played great in his last two starts here but prior to 2017 he did post three straight finishes of T-17 or better. He is known as a great ball striker and you know he will be the fairway that will allow him to have some clean looks at these greens.
Also Consider: Emiliano Grillo—$7,600 (OWGR: 48, 66/1)
My final play, is Sam Ryder. This low at $6,500 you are looking for salary relief because you are probably rostering at least two studs at the top. I will take a guy that will most likely make the cut and has a lot of upside. He ranks out fairly strong statistically as well as 16th in BoB, 22nd in birdies gained, and 28th in bogey avoidance over the last 50 rounds.
Also Consider: Trey Mullinax—$6,700 (OWGR: 244, 250/1); Anders Albertson—$6,300 (OWGR: 228, 150/1)
That’s it until next time! Good luck this week and, as always, let me know what other tools or information would be helpful for your weekly picks!
-Steven Quezada, @stevenquezadaTX