This week's Waste Management Phoenix Open feels like a breath of fresh air following last week's Patrick Reed Rules Invitational -- alternative name: the Farmers Insurance Open -- and fans will be in attendance to watch a really strong field take on TPC Scottsdale. While the famous 16th hole will not have its usual theatrics, the aura of the place this week should be better than what we've seen over the last six months.
Let's take a closer look at this week's contest, with odds and prop bets provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
What: Phoenix Open
When: Feb. 4-7
Where: TPC Scottsdale -- Scottsdale, Arizona
Three things to know
1. Elite winners: The list of winners at this tournament is low-key elite. In the past decade, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson have all won here. With a top-heavy group playing this year (see field below), I imagine we get another monster name added to this list.
2. About those fans: The Phoenix Open is expecting somewhere around 5,000 fans a day, which will likely feel like an Olympics opening ceremony compared to what we've seen over the last several months. The biggest place this will be felt is at the crazed (and overhyped!) par-3 16th. On a normal day, the tournament sees about three times this total surrounding that hole alone. So it will be fairly eerie, but it also means a simple hole that plays tricky because of the normal noise should return to being a simple hole.
3. J.T. is back: Following the fallout from the homophobic slur he used at the Tournament of Champions to start 2021, we haven't seen Justin Thomas in the United States. He played the Abu Dhabi Championship a few weeks ago (where he missed the cut), but the narrative around him this week will be interesting and, I suspect, probably subtle given the time that's elapsed and everything we've had to holler about (like the Patrick Reed situation) in the interim.
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
Grading the field
Even with top players like Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Tony Finau headed to the Middle East for the Saudi International, this field is still pretty incredible. It includes five of the top 10 players in the world -- Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele and Webb Simpson -- and an even higher OWGR ranking than last week's Farmers Insurance Open. For the sake of context, this field is stronger than the last WGC event of 2019 and either of the last two Tour Championships. Grade: A-
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Phoenix Open picks
|Winner (11-1): He was terrific last week at a place where he has not really thrived before. He's never finished worse than top 20 at this course, and nobody in this field has a better strokes-gained number than Schauffele so far in 2021. It feels like he's flying in under the radar a bit.|
|Top 10 (+120): He faded to a T16 last week, but he's hitting the hell out of it. Nobody in this field has been better off the tee so far in 2021, and as Ben Coley recently noted, that will be useful at a place like TPC Scottsdale where you can overpower the par 5s and reach (or nearly reach) some of the par 4s.|
|Sleeper (70-1): Hard fade last weekend with a 75 on Sunday to a T18 finish, but he's kept up his ball-striking from the end of 2020. Only J.T. has been better than Burns from tee to green over the last 90 days than Burns -- not Rahm, not Rory, not Xander. I think the momentum carries into this week.|
Who wins the Waste Management Phoenix Open? And which long shots should you back? Visit SportsLine to see the projected leaderboard, all from the projection model that's nailed six golf majors and is up almost $11,000 since the restart.