This week’s tournament in the desert is the most popular tournament of the PGA season! Whether it be the ongoing party of the 16th hole featuring fans shot-gunning beers, to the game of golf being uncharacteristically loud, the Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale is a one of a kind event. The Par 71 course will be playing around 7,250 yards with calm winds and fair weather. Tee-to-green and greens in regulation are key stats to pay attention to, while also factoring in golfers that excel at putting. The favorite of the field, John Rahm, checks a ton of boxes this weekend and sits at +600 odds to finish at the top of the leaderboard.
Around twenty-five of the world’s top sixty golfers will be in the field this week. A normal PGA event usually has around 150 golfers in it, but in this event specifically, the field is usually smaller and has around 110 golfers. At this tournament last year (2019), the top 70 golfers + ties made it to the through the weekend cut. This year, the PGA shortened that to the top 65 golfers + ties. See the official list of golfers and tee-times here.
Mentioned earlier in the article, it’s no surprise that Jon Rahm comes in as the favorite fresh off of his second runner-up finish to start the new season. In four career visits in this event, he is 4/4 in cuts made and has finished top-16 in each of those appearances with two top-ten finishes as well. Even with Justin Thomas missing two cuts at Phoenix in the last five years, he is too good of a golfer to overlook this week and has potential to win outright over Rahm. Outside of a missed cut at the Sony Open three weeks ago, Thomas has finished fifth or better in four of his other five events early in the 2020 season. Thomas and Rahm have very similar styles that benefit them heading into the weekend, but I’d give the edge to Rahm given Thomas’ recent struggles.
Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler are the course-history guys for this week. Together, they have a combined three wins, three runner-up finishes, and eight top-15 finishes in the last five years! One sneaky golfer to keep an eye on this week is Webb Simpson, who is coming in off a perfect 4/4 in cuts made to start the season (all of those were also top-ten finishes). Not only does he lead this week’s field in greens in regulation %, but he is also very strong in tee-to-green and putting. In the last four times that Simpson has participated in this event, he has three top-20 finishes (one second-place finish) and a missed cut.
Stick with one of the aforementioned guys as your winner and there’s a good chance that you’ll be celebrating like the ASU College kids all weekend long.