Greg Logan: Best Bets for WM Phoenix Open

Waste Management Phoenix Open a/k/a "the People's Open" is home to the largest and most enthusiastic crowds in the game as well as the most iconic hole on the PGA TOUR – the famed 16th hole Coliseum which has captured the hearts of millions of golf fans around the world.

LONG ISLAND, New York – Even though it is not one of the PGA Tour’s enhanced events and has a purse of just $8 million, the Waste Management Phoenix Open remains one of the highlights of the golf betting year because it always takes place on Super Bowl weekend at the TPC Scottsdale that ranks as a desert oasis among resorts.

The WM Phoenix Open always attracts a stellar field and massive galleries to the par-71, 7,261-yard Stadium Course that is a treat for fans. There is such a thing as “horses for courses,” and that is true at TPC Scottsdale, where a look at results in recent years shows that many of the same names have great track records over this layout.

One of the tournament’s favorites – Justin Thomas – is also the No. 1 choice of golf handicapper Greg Logan.

For instance, Scottie Scheffler finished tied for seventh in 2021 and then began his rise to No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings with victories in Phoenix the past two years, winning a playoff over Patrick Cantlay in 2022 and winning by two strokes at 19-under par last year. Naturally, Scheffler is the favorite again this year at odds of +500 to win.

But I’m going to place Scheffler at No. 2 on my list behind my pick to win – Justin Thomas, who is second in the odds at +1000. Not only would it be improbable for Scheffler to win the same event three straight times, but Thomas has been knocking at the door the past six years with four top-10 finishes, a T13 and a T17. He is a total of 78-under par over that span and is due to show up in the winner’s circle.

Scottie Scheffler reacts on the 16th green during the final round of the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on Feb 12, 2023 in Scottsdale, AZ. (Photo by Steph Chambers via Getty Images)

My original second pick was Xander Schauffele, whose success in Phoenix the past six years nearly duplicates that of Thomas with four top-10 finishes plus a T16 and T17 and a total of 74-under par. But after recovering from a back injury to play in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week, Schauffele suddenly withdrew from the field in Phoenix, prompting speculation that he might be preparing to leave the PGA Tour, which he has criticized, to join LIV Golf.

There are many players at relatively shorter odds behind Scheffler and Thomas, but I am going to go down the list to choose two past Phoenix champions as players who might well contend. Both Rickie Fowler, who won in 2019, and Hideki Matsuyama, the back-to-back champ in 2016-17 have stellar records at TPC Scottsdale. But they are listed at +5000. Fowler has four other finishes of T11 or better since 2016, when he actually lost a playoff to Matsuyama.

Since his back-to-back wins at Phoenix, Matsuyama withdrew with an injury in 2018, but he has made five straight cuts at Phoenix, including a T8 in 2022, T16 in 2020 and T15 in 2019. He is 76-under par in his past seven Phoenix appearances.

Greg Logan likes Sungjae Im as a top contender at Waste Mangement Phoenix Open.

My final two picks to contend for the victory at TPC Scottsdale are Jordan Spieth, who is listed at +1600, and Sungjae Im, who is in a group at +2800. Spieth has three top-10 finishes since 2017, and Im has three top-20 finishes since 2019. Spieth and Im were tied for sixth last year.

Max Homa undoubtedly will get consideration from many bettors among the favorites at +1600, but I don’t feel he has been as sharp as my top picks. If you’re looking for longshots, Akshay Bhatia is intriguing at +6600, and veterans Billy Horschel and Keith Mitchell have quality records at TPC Scottsdale and are list at +10000.

But it is hard to ignore the top two favorites in Thomas and Scheffler, and past champs Fowler and Matsuyama have great Phoenix records and attractive odds.

Best of luck on Super Bowl Sunday.
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