Tuesday, February 2, 2021

What To Look For: 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open

Patrick Reed wins at Torrey Pines last week.


At one point I had picks of Ortiz (125/1), Im (40/1), Hovland (25/1), Finau (18/1), Schauffel (12/1) and Rahm (7/1) all in contention on the weekend. Reed was ranked 38th on my list of likely to win. He has not had an impressive season thus far, hamstrung by awful Yellow Zone (125-175 yards) play (191st) and has been a so-so Red Zone (175-225 yards) player (122nd) along with decent driving off the tee (99th in Driving Effectiveness). But he putted lights out at Palm Springs despite missing the cut and one has to give the guy credit...Reed has an incredible amount of faith in himself as he can play poorly for long stretches at a time and then suddenly catch fire and look like the best player on the planet.

This week the Tour heads to Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The Phoenix Open started in 1932 and is mainly known for the 16th hole which is a rather non-descript golf hole, but is one of the most famous holes on the Tour. What started off as a lovefest of golf and booze from Arizona residents turned into a must-go social event in the area with 'stadium golf.' In many ways, I think this prompted the invention of Top Golf and the Golf Shack, massive driving range centers that feature food, alcohol, games and a stadium golf atmosphere.

The course was re-designed in 2014 by Tom Weiskopf. Most of the players I've talked to generally dislike the course and the re-design didn't help matters any. The re-design made the fairways narrower and implemented some waste areas that are in odd positions that are not to the players' liking. However, the re-design gave players who are not bombers a chance to win there as the old design was becoming almost exclusively a bomber's track. Many of the bombers are not playing here due to playing the Saudi International which features exorbitant appearance fees that are too much money for most players to turn down.

TPC Scottsdale is more of a ballstriker's course now, requiring skilled driving, long iron play, and precision on the par-5's is where most of the strokes will be lost/gained. The final critical hole is the 18th.

The 18th is the final critical hole on the course. Most players use driver and have this line off the tee.

The data suggests that laying up with 3-wood is the better play because it takes the bunkers out of play and thus greatly eliminates double bogey or worse. The hole usually plays around 4.03-ish from a stroke average perspective. Players that lay-up off the tee are not likely to make birdie, but a 2-putt par should garner them some strokes on the field. In the end, it's a hole one should use driver if they feel they need a birdie or lay-up off the tee if par is sufficient.

Projected Winning Score: -17


Jon Rahm +650
Xander Schauffele +1,000
Rory McIlroy +1,100
Bubba Watson +3,300
Will Zalatoris +3,300


Sam Burns +6,600 
Corey Conners +6,600 
Carlos Ortiz +8,000 
Keegan Bradley +15,000 
Wyndham Clark +15,000



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