Waste Management Phoenix Open
Analysis and write-up provided by KendoVT. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to see each player’s tournament history.
The PGA Tour is in Phoenix this week as the golfers take on TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The WMPO is one of the most exciting and most attended events on Tour. The par 3 16th hole has become one of the most iconic holes on Tour due to the stadium type atmosphere with up to 35,000 spectators looking on, most of which are inebriated and looking more for a good time than actually watching golf. This has led to some memorable moments at 16 from Tiger’s hole in one in the late 90s to James Hahn’s Gangnam Style dance after a birdie a few years ago. Rowdiness has occurred in the past with fans throwing beer cans onto the course and beach balls bouncing everywhere in the stands while golfers are trying to swing. Needless to say, this is not your typical PGA Tour event. TPC Scottsdale is a 7200 yard par 71 course with four par 3s and three par 5s. Tom Weiskopf redid the course a bit two years ago redoing most of the bunkers and adding a little length as well. Since the redesign the fairways are playing a little tighter with many more fairway bunkers coming into play, especially for the longer hitters. The rough shouldn’t be that thick but local vegetation, desert like conditions, and tree troubles come into play for golfers who hit wayward drives. The tournament is in arid conditions, so the fairways should be firm and many balls will roll out giving golfers a bit more distance off the tee than usual. There are also water hazards on about 1/3 of the holes. The golfers will be putting on Bermuda grass greens that are surrounded by bunkers but are above average in size and fairly flat. All three par 5s are reachable by the longer hitters and the par 4 17th hole should be drivable by a large majority of the field. As of now, the weather looks great for the week and shouldn’t play a factor in a golfer’s performance.
Looking at the course description above and trends for the course the last few years, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats, current form, and course history to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P), which is a key stat every week.
Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G):
The greens are flat and fairly easy to putt on so the main differential this week between a golfer that does well and a golfer that misses the cut will be the tee to green game. Inaccurate golfers off the tee that hit it long and still hit a lot of greens because they are hitting wedges OR accurate, short drivers who consistently hit it close with their longer irons will benefit the most on this course layout. In the last ten years 28/38 golfers that finished in the Top 3 were inside the Top 66 in SG:T2G for that specific year. Also EVERY golfer in the Top 3 the last two years has been inside the Top 36 in SG:T2G for that specific year.
Driving Distance (DD):
It’s not as easy as it was for the long hitters to hit it over trouble since the course redesign but hitting it long off the tee should still give golfers an advantage. In the last ten years 25/38 golfers that finished in the Top 3 have been inside the Top 80 in DD for that year. If you’re worried how the course redesign has affected bombers, last year Koepka (1st) was 8th in DD, Bubba (T2) was 2nd in DD, Palmer (T2) was 13th in DD, and Matsuyama (T2) was 57th in DD.
Birdie or Better % (BoB%):
Making birdies every week at any tournament is important but the trends show it might be a little more important at TPC Scottsdale. In the last ten years 30/38 golfers that finished Top 3 or better finished that year inside the Top 67 in BoB%.
Par 5 Scoring (P5):
You would think that since TPC Scottsdale has only three par 5s, par 5 scoring wouldn’t be too important. If you look at the trends from the last ten years you would notice that this is not true. 27/38 Top 3 finishers at the WMPO the last ten years have been inside the Top 70 in P5 for that respective year. There are more Par 4s on this course than usual so I will also be taking a peek at Par 4 scoring (P4) stats as well but the trends show that better par 5 scorers have finished in the Top 3 more often than better par 4 scorers.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
*** I will be using stats from 2016 but I will take a peak at last year’s stats where needed.
Bubba Watson ($12,100):
Bubba is the highest priced player this week for good reason. His stats for the course are one of the best in the field and he loves this course. He has three Top 5 finishes at TPC Scottsdale in his last four tries including back to back 2nd place finishes the last two years. His price isn’t outrageous and you can easily afford him this week in cash games AND GPPs with all the value under 7.5k. Though he is not my #1 pick to win, he can easily do it this week. (GPP and Cash)
Brandt Snedeker ($11,800):
I picked Sneds to win last week at Torrey Pines and he came through in the clutch with one of the best final rounds you’ll see under horrid weather conditions. He will be very highly owned this week but I still don’t mind using him. His stats are solid and he has made 8/9 cuts here with four Top 10 finishes. He is playing awesome golf and another Top 5 this week is not out of the question. (GPP and Cash)
Rickie Fowler ($11,600):
Fowler played awful last week but I think that was due to the massive time change he had to deal with winning in Abu Dhabi the week before. He is a world class golfer that can contend every week and I think people will be off him due to his performance at Torrey Pines which makes it a perfect time to put him in some GPP lineups. (GPP only)
Jason Dufner ($10,700):
Dufner has three straight Top 9s on Tour including a victory at the CareerBuilder Challenge a couple of weeks ago. His stats line up nicely for the course. He’s 13th in SG:T2G, 7th in BoB%, 3rd in P5, and 11th in P4. He missed the cut here the last two years which is a bit worrisome but he is currently playing his best golf in years and when he was in his prime a few years ago he had back to back Top 10 finishes at TPC Scottsdale. He is hot right now and I’d go ahead and use him until he shows us something different. (GPP only)
Kevin Kisner ($10,400):
Kisner missed the cut here last year but I wouldn’t worry about it because he is playing some of the best golf of his life right now. He has four straight Top 10s on Tour with a win at the RSM Classic. He is the number 2 ranked golfer in my model when it comes to key stats for the course. He’s 18th in SG:T2G, 1st in P4, 17th in P5, 65th in DD, and 9th in SG:P. He should be near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday. (GPP and Cash)
Kevin Na ($10,000):
Na has become a very consistent golfer for DFS purposes this year with FOUR Top 3 finishes in six events so far this season. He has also played well at TPC Scottsdale in the past making 9/10 cuts with four Top 5 finishes. His stats are solid. He’s 9th in SG:T2G, 8th in BoB%, 2nd in P4, 61st in P5, and 62nd in SG:P. If you are making a balanced cash game lineup, you should definitely think about having Na as your highest priced player. A win is coming for him soon and this could be the week. (GPP and Cash)
Ryan Palmer ($9,900):
I love Palmer this week. He is the #1 ranked player on my board when it comes to key stats and he’s my 4th ranked golfer overall. He’s 31st in SG:T2G, 10th in BoB%, 2nd in P5, and 5th in DD. He has made 8/9 cuts in Phoenix with two Top 5 finishes here the last three years. He also has three Top 17 finishes in his last three starts on Tour. I’m taking a bit of a flier this week but Palmer is my pick to win. (GPP and Cash)
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Commentary based on DraftKings strategy and scoring.