Waste Management Phoenix Open Preview: TV Times, and who you should be backing this week
The Waste Management Phoenix Open might be missing four of the top five players in the world (they’ve opted to play in the European Tour’s controversial Saudi International), but with a strong field and the rowdiest par-three on the PGA Tour, there’s going to be no shortage of entertainiment at TPC Scottsdale this week.
Defending champion Gary Woodland ended a near five-year winless drought when he claimed an emotional play-off victory against Chez Reavie last year, marking the third consecutive time the tournament was forced in to extra holes.
Hideki Mastuyama outlasted Webb Simpson (’17) and Rickie Fowler (’16) to win both previous editions of the event before he was forced to withdraw with a wrist injury last year, and he returns as one of the many former champions teeing up this week.
But who should you be placing your bets on this week? Below, we give you a rundown of the players likely to be in contention in Arizona.
Course: TPC Scottsdale, 7261 yards, Par 71
Defending: Gary Woodland
PGA Tour TV Times: How can I watch the Phoenix Open in the UK?
Wednesday 30th Jan
Live PGA Tour, Sky Sports Golf (20:00)
Thursday 31st Jan
Feature Groups: Live PGA Tour, Sky Sports Golf (14:30)
Live: Sky Sports Golf (20:00)
Friday 1st Feb
Feature Groups: Live PGA Tour, Sky Sports Golf (14:30)
Live: Sky Sports Golf (20:00), Sky Sports Main Event (22:00)
Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd Feb
Live: Sky Sports Golf (18:00)
Waste Management Phoenix Open: Betting Tips
Former Champions in the field: Gary Woodland (’18), Hideki Matsuyama (’17, ’16), Phil Mickelson (’13, ’05, ’96), Kyle Stanley (’12), Hunter Mahan (’10), Kenny Perry (’09), JB Holmes (’08, ’06), Aaron Baddeley (’07)
Jon Rahm: 7/1
Bookies favourite for second week in a row after posting his fifth consecutive top 10, which includes his win at the Hero World Challenge. The Arizona based player’s T5 at the Farmers Insurance Open could have been even better if not for a missed short-putt on the last, but it’s clear he’s in form. In three starts here has gone T11-T16-T5, and he ranks 4th SG: off the tee and inside the top 25 for both birdie and scoring average on the PGA Tour.
Justin Thomas: 9/1
A mixed bag of appearances at TPC Scottsdale include two T17s sandwiched either side of two MC’s, but the World No.4 is never one to rule out. Finished T16 in his last start at the Sony Open and went 3-T12-T36-T5 before that. And if you still aren’t convinced, his stats speak volumes: JT ranks 1st for SG: Approach the green, 2nd for SG: Tee to green, 7th GIR, 9th Birdie average and 15th Scoring Average on the PGA Tour this season.
Hideki Matsuyama: 12/1
The man to put your money behind if you’re looking for a player with course form. In addition to back to back victories in ’17 and ’16, Matsuyama lost out by a stroke to Koepka in ’15 and finished T4 on his debut in ’14. He withdrew with a wrist injury during the second round last year, but had posted an opening 69 before that. Finished T3 at the Farmers last week and is ranked inside the top 20 on Tour this season for Scoring average, SG: Approach the green and SG: Tee to green.
Webb Simpson: 16/1
Simpson is teeing up in just his second start of 2019, but with four top 10s and a T15 in his last five starts he’s definitely one to watch. He missed the cut at TPC Scottsdale last year but lost in a play-off to Mastuyama in 2017, and has three other top 10s in Arizona. Ranks 5th SG: Approach the green, 7th for Scoring Average and 8th for Driving Accuracy.
Xander Schauffele: 16/1
A T25 finish at Torrey Pines last week was Schauffele’s worst result in five starts, which includes two victories (latest at the Sentry Tournament of Champions) and a top 10. T17 in his debut at the Phoenix Open last year. Ranks 1st SG: Total, 5th SG: Putting, 12th SG: Tee to green and 14th for Scoring average.
Gary Woodland: 18/1
Defending champion has six top 10s in just eight starts this season already, proving that he’s heading back to Arizona in great form. In nine appearances Woodland has made seven cuts at Phoenix, and has one other top 10 in addition to his victory. Currently ranks 7th for birdie average, 11th for GIR, 12th for scoring average and 13th for both SG: Tee to green and SG: Approach the green.
Tony Finau: 18/1
We say it week in, week out, but there’s got to be a time that Finau breaks through for his first victory since his debut PGA Tour win in 2016. Finau has two runner-up finishes in his last five starts and was T13 last week at Torrey Pines. Typically struggled here (three MC’s in a row) since coming T22 on his debut, but playing too well to ignore. After all, Woodland won the year after he missed the cut. Finau ranks 3rd for scoring average, 5th SG: Tee to green and 6th for SG: Around the green so far this season.
Phil Mickelson: 20/1
Mickelson ended a five-year wait for a win at the WGC Mexico last year, and looks very close to another. The three time champion finished T5 here last year and heads to the Waste Management Phoenix Open following a T2 at the Desert Classic. Ranks 1st for birdie average, 5th for scoring average and 7th for SG: Around the green.
Rickie Fowler: 20/1
Fowler put a new TaylorMade ball in to play last week and ended up T66, but with four top 10s in his previous five starts on Tour he’s definitely one not to overlook. Fowler is also a two-time runner-up (’10, ’16) at the Phoenix Open, and was T11 here in 2018. Ranks inside the top 20 on Tour so far this season for both Scoring and Birdie average.
Matt Kuchar: 25/1
Kuchar ended his own 4 year winless drought with two wins in his last four starts, the latest of which came at the Sony Open. He’s another player with form at TPC Scottsdale, posting back-to-back top 10s over the past two years. Ranks inside the top 5 on tour this season for Driving Accuracy, GIR and Scoring average, in addition to 9th for birdie average.
Chez Reavie: 45/1
Reavie was last year’s runner-up and has seemingly regained some of the form he accrued during the start of last season. He’s had two top 10s in his last 5 starts, which includes a T3 at the Sony Open a couple of weeks ago. Currently ranks 3rd for SG: Tee to green and 4th for SG: Approach the green.
Martin Laird: 66/1
Our long shot this week is the Arizona-based Scot. Laird seems to find his form here no matter how he scores leading up to the tournament: Four top 10s in eight starts at TPC Scottsdale include going T7-T9 in ’17 and ’18 respectively. Was T41 last week and has one top 10 in his last five starts on Tour.