Phoenix Open odds, preview, and course notes
Super Bowl LV isn’t the only high-profile sporting event this weekend. In Scottsdale, Arizona, the PGA Tour will return for its long-running “Greatest Show on Grass,” better known as the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Featuring a 132-player field packed with star power, the Phoenix Open will host five of the top 10 players in the world, including tournament favorite Jon Rahm (+650), Xander Schauffele (+1000), first-time participant Rory McIlroy (+1000), and 2020 champion Webb Simpson (+1400).
Waste Management Phoenix Open 2021 Group A
Sun, February 7 2021, 11:00 PM
Last week’s Farmers Insurance Open winner — and alleged rule-manipulator — Patrick Reed will sit out this tournament, while Justin Thomas will make his first appearance on the PGA Tour since he became embroiled in his own controversy.
Excited to be back at @WMPhoenixOpen this week! These last few weeks have been challenging but have left me optimistic about my growth as a person. I am very grateful to everyone that has reached out and been supportive of me. I promise to be better and do better. Let’s get it 👊🏽— Justin Thomas (@JustinThomas34) February 2, 2021
The 27-year-old is a top choice to contend this weekend, after he finished third at the Tournament of Champions in January. J.T. has landed no worse than 12th in six appearances on Tour this season and posted top-three finishes at the Phoenix Open in 2019 and 2020.
Phoenix Open course layout and relevant statistics
One reason Thomas should perform well this weekend is his approach play.
When Simpson won the Phoenix Open in a playoff with Tony Finau last year, the North Carolina native ranked first in the category during the event. Thomas currently ranks 11th on Tour in strokes gained approaching the green and ranked first in the stat during the Tournament of Champions.
Greens in regulation, strokes gained tee to green, and strokes gained putting on Bermuda grass are also important statistics to factor for this tournament, which is played on the par-71, 7,261-yard Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale.
To climb the leaderboard, players must steer clear of three water hazards that come into play on six holes and nearly 70 bunkers.
The last three winners also ranked in the top four in par 4 scoring at the tournament. The Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish design features 11 par 4s (ranging from 332 yards to 490), three par 5s around 550 yards, and four par 3s, including the famous 16th hole, nicknamed “the Coliseum.”
Best bets at the Phoenix Open
If you’re looking for a safe pick, Simpson has shown a firm grasp of this course in nine appearances. The defending champ has posted five top 10s since 2010, including a second-place finish in 2017.
The No. 9 golfer in the world currently ranks in the top 20 in strokes gained putting and par 4 scoring, and he ranks 31st in greens in regulation percentage.
With a victory Sunday, Simpson would become the sixth player to win the Phoenix Open in consecutive years. Ben Hogan, Jimmy Demaret, Johnny Miller, and Hideki Matsuyama (+2000 this year) previously achieved the feat, while Arnold Palmer won three times, from 1961-1963.
Another player with excellent course history at TPC Scottsdale is Daniel Berger (+1800). The 27-year-old finished ninth at the Phoenix Open last year and has two more top 10s, plus an 11th-place finish, since 2015.
Berger most recently landed seventh at the Sony Open and 10th at the Tournament of Champions, both Bermuda courses.
For a longer shot, look to Sungjae Im (+3000). The 22-year-old South Korean has missed one cut in 12 appearances this season and finished seventh at the Phoenix Open in his first try, in 2019.
He landed 12th at The American Express, another desert tournament, and fifth on the Tournament of Champions’ Bermuda layout.
How to watch the Phoenix Open
The winner of the Phoenix Open will receive $1.3 million of a $7.3 million purse, plus 500 FedEx Cup points.
Fan attendance will be limited to 5,000 people per day at the popular tournament, which usually sees around half a million attendees over a four-day period.
You can catch all the action Thursday and Friday, from 3-7 p.m. ET, and Saturday and Sunday, from 1-3 p.m. ET, on the Golf Channel. NBC will provide live coverage from 3-6 p.m. ET Saturday and Sunday.