Webb Simpson sparked a great season when he won last year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and he will try to duplicate that success when the field tees off Thursday at TPC Scottsdale. Simpson beat Tony Finau in a playoff in Scottsdale last year after both went 17-under in regulation, and he went on to win another tournament and finish in the top three in five of his 14 events. The 35-year-old already has three top-10 finishes this season and comes in off a tie for fourth at the Sony Open in his last outing.

Jon Rahm is listed as the 7-1 favorite in the latest 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open odds at William Hill Sportsbook, while Simpson is going off at 16-1. Other players from the 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open field expected to be in the mix include Justin Thomas (8-1), Rory McIlroy (11-1) and Xander Schauffele (11-1). Before locking in any 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open picks or predictions, you need to see who Sal Johnson is backing

A media legend and consummate golf insider, Johnson has a strong feel for what it takes to win at TPC Scottsdale. Before last year's event, he had Simpson among his top contenders, pointing out his momentum coming into the tournament. Johnson also noted that Simpson had gone low on the course before, and he went out and shot 63 and 64 on back-to-back days on his way to a playoff victory over Tony Finau.

The previous year, the golf expert also was tuned in to Rickie Fowler's track record in the event and had him listed as a contender before he shot three rounds of 65 or better en route to a two-stroke victory.

The golf guru was spot-on all last season. He was all over Dustin Johnson at the 2020 Masters, calling him a "man with a purpose" and proclaiming he would be nearly impossible to beat. The result? Johnson simply shot the lowest score in event history at 20 under to win by five strokes!

Earlier in the season, he pegged Sungjae Im as a top contender before his first Tour win at the Honda Classic in March and touted surging Tyrrell Hatton before his breakthrough at the Arnold Palmer the following week.

Now Johnson, the first producer of "Inside the PGA Tour," a longtime ABC Sports golf producer who worked with Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Greg Norman, and the founder of the world's top golf stats database, has released his highly confident 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open picks, and they will surprise you. You can only see them here.

Top 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open expert picks

Johnson isn't expecting a lot from Thomas this week, even though he comes into the event as one of the top favorites. The world's No. 3 player has been a regular near the top of leaderboards in the past year, but he has just one win since the restart last June. Thomas is an elite player and has played well in the past three appearances at TPC Scottsdale. He could crack the top 10, but Johnson advises against expecting him to top the leaderboard this week.

On the other hand, Johnson expects McIlroy to be in contention even though this will be his first time playing this event. The four-time major champion has struggled to string four good rounds together but has finished 17th or better in his past three outings. He is second in both driving distance and strokes gained: off-the-tee this season, and he has 97 birdies in 20 rounds. He has nine rounds in the 60s over his past four tournaments but also has five rounds of 73 or worse.     

Johnson also has followed the career of Hideki Matsuyama closely. The Japanese star has 14 worldwide victories, with five on the PGA Tour and two at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. He won this event in 2016 and 2017, both times in a playoff, and has been in the top 20 in six of his seven trips. He has struggled with his putter but is 21st in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He tied for 53rd last week, but he went 15 under at Waialae and could right the ship this week at TPC Scottsdale.    

How to make 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open predictions

Johnson is expecting big things from a massive long shot listed higher than 60-1 this week. This player has been accurate both off the tee and into the greens, and he is coming off consecutive strong starts. This could be the week he finally breaks through, and anyone who backs this underdog could cash in big. You can only see who it is here.

Who wins the Waste Management Phoenix Open 2021? Where do Rahm and Simpson finish? And which long shot is a must-back? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson's full leaderboard, picks and analysis for the 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open, all from the insider who knows what it takes to win at TPC Scottsdale.

2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open odds

Jon Rahm 7-1
Justin Thomas 8-1
Xander Schauffele 11-1
Rory McIlroy 11-1
Webb Simpson 16-1
Daniel Berger 20-1
Hideki Matsuyama 22-1
Harris English 28-1
Sungjae Im 33-1
Rickie Fowler 40-1
Bubba Watson 40-1
Will Zalatoris 45-1
Scottie Scheffler 45-1
Ryan Palmer 45-1
Gary Woodland 45-1
Matthew Wolff 45-1
Billy Horschel 50-1
Matt Kuchar 50-1
Jason Day 50-1
Louis Oosthuizen 50-1
Si-Woo Kim 60-1
Russell Henley 66-1
Corey Conners 66-1
Max Homa 70-1
Henrik Norlander 70-1
Cameron Champ 70-1
Sam Burns 70-1
Carlos Ortiz 70-1
Brendon Todd 80-1
Jordan Spieth 80-1
Brian Harman 80-1
Brendan Steele 80-1
Byeong Hun An 80-1
Talor Gooch 90-1
Sebastian Munoz 90-1
Adam Long 100-1
Patton Kizzire 100-1
Chris Kirk 100-1
Keegan Bradley 100-1
Adam Hadwin 100-1