Waste Management Phoenix Open: Picks and Preview

Written By PlayPicks Staff on January 28, 2015 - Last Updated on June 20, 2018

Last week saw Bill Haas held off a plethora of challengers to win his 6th PGA tour title.  Haas has an amazing record at the Humana event having won twice now and finished second once as well.  He is truly a horse for a course and I will be revisiting Haas once we roll around to Riviera (Northern Trust Open) as his record there is almost as good.


The last two weeks have really seen the chalk fly, as the top priced players have seemingly either won or finished top 5-10 in each of the first two events.  However, this week begins a much tougher stretch of golf in two regards: the field are getting tougher and the courses are getting harder.  For fantasy purposes this means that as the fields grow in stature more middle priced talent becomes available and the chances of the top priced players paying off becomes less likely.  As well, certain lower priced players who may have benefited from easy courses may not perform as they did in previous events.  Either way, we will be looking for players who represent the best value and best chance of out-performing their own price and the prices of the players above them.


Onto this week…


Waste Management Phoenix Open


 While the Waste Management Open, or Phoenix Open as it’s sometimes referred to, has been known to produce some low scores at TPC Scottsdale, it is not quite as friendly as the triplet of courses the players faced last week in Palm Springs.  As well, TPC Scottsdale has recently undergone some renovations mainly aimed at “toughening up” the golf course.  A few holes have been lengthened, bunkers have been moved to provide better protection for pins (making approach shots tougher) and to challenge players off the tee (making tee shots harder).  Landing areas in fairways have also been reduced, meaning accurate driving is now at a premium.  All in all, the course may not look that different, but it will play somewhat harder (although we don’t really know how much).


Even with the changes scoring for the week should still exceed double digits, however the tougher test means those who consistently find the fairway and greens will be at a distinct advantage.  In short, driving will be more important than usual but making enough birdies will be key as well.  Finally, one last thing to consider is recent form, as the past winners have generally come to TPC Scottsdale with their games in great shape before winning (The top three from last year all had top ten’s in the previous week or so leading up).


Best Plays:


Hideki Matsuyama
Draftkings: 10700
Victiv: 10000
Opened at 33-1, current at 26-1
Key Stat: T3 in his second to last start, 36th GIR (2015)


Matsuyama comes into this week off the heels of a missed Saturday cut at the Sony Open, but that should not dissuade you from using him this week.  Two weeks ago he nearly beat a star-studded field at a much more suitably course (for his talents) and comes into this week with the experience of having nearly shot himself into a playoff on this course last season (ended up 4th).  Matsuyama is a great talent who should be able to use his superior approach accuracy and driving this week to his advantage (even more so than last year).  He ranked 10th in birdie average in 2014 and can score enough to get the win.  For his price, he is my top play this week as I don’t like anyone else above him nearly enough to justify not using him.


Gary Woodland
Draftkings: 9400
Victiv: 9200
Opened at 34-1
Key Stat: 13th in GIR (2015), 3 top 5’s in his last 4 starts


Woodland comes into the Phoenix Open playing perhaps the most consistent golf of his career.  He can hit it miles off the tee and will have no difficulty navigating the tougher driving conditions.  What’s better and makes me think he can win outright this week is that his GIR and strokes gained putting statistics as of late have been miles ahead of his 2014 statistics.  Woodland has a nice history in Phoenix with a 6th place to his name and certainly comes in confident.  Roster him with impunity this week as he offers both consistency and massive upside.


Harris English
Draftkings: 8600
Victiv: 8300
Opened at 50-1, currently at 40-1
Key Stat: 9th here last year, 13th in GIR (2015)


Harris English is another fantastic ball striker who should benefit from the changes to the course.  He hits it long and hits loads of GIR when he is on.  Recently, English has re-found his consistent ball striking and comes into Phoenix riding a T3 from the Sony Open and four decent rounds from the Humana.  The tougher test here should suit his game much better than last week and I expect him to contend.  His price makes him possibly one of the best values on the board this week.


Robert Streb
Draftkings: 7400
Victiv: 7900
Opened at 70-1
Key Stat: 40th in GIR (2015) 


I assume Robert Streb’s low price this week is based on his lack of experience playing at TPC Scottsdale, because I can think of no other reason he is priced so low.  Streb comes into this event playing some of the best golf of anyone on tour having won once and scored two top-tens in his past 5 events.  Streb even placed well (17th) at the Sony Open which features a tighter course that arguably does not favour his long-ball game.  The changes to the course in Scottsdale will benefit Streb this week as there will be features that are new to the entire field, and the added emphasis on driving means the course will be playing to his strengths.


Cameron Tringale
Draftkings: 6000
Victiv: 6300
Key Stat: 27th driving accuracy


Tringale comes into this event after a solid week in the dessert where he placed 30th.  Tringale has always fared well at tougher tests having placed 2nd last year at the Barclays where driving accuracy and GIR were at a premium.  What Tringale may lose to some of the longer hitters in distance he makes up for in accuracy and putting.  Moreover, at his price, Tringale only needs to get you a top 30 to really pay off, and his consistent tee to green game means he makes a lot of cuts (he only missed 6 cuts in 31 tournaments played last year).  He has a nice consistent history in Phoenix and finished a career best 12th at this event last year.




Shawn Stefani: great ball striker and long driver who has been hitting it very well as of late, well priced.
Seung-yul Noh: should benefit from tougher driving conditions, he’s priced cheaper than he should be.
Scott Piercy: likes it here and lots of great results in the past 5-6 tournaments, trending well.
Brendon Steele: 5th here the past two years, coming off a T2 last week, hard to ignore.




Brice Garnett
Draftkings: 3900
Victiv: 3100
Opened at 351-1
Key Stat: 6 of 7 cuts made this year


Garnett is an unspectacular yet very consistent golfer who is very good at making the cut.  He has already made 6 of 7 cuts this year and even has a top ten to his name, albeit in a much weaker field.  Why I really like him this week though is that he has played at the TPC Scottsdale facility recently and will be used to the changes at the course.  Always a good bet to get you four rounds I think his value is even higher this week for his local knowledge.


Michael Putnam
Draftkings: 4800
Victiv: 5200
Opened at 226-1
Key Stat: 36th in GIR (2014)


Having mentioned Michael Putnam twice already this year but never having written him up, I thought it time to give Putnam his due.  Putnam, like Garnett, simply makes cuts.  He has one of the best Thursday scoring averages on tour and is a hot starter.  Unfortunately, as he proved again last week, once Sunday roles around he seems to lose steam.  Putnam is always a good bet to make the cut and I expect he’ll come out blazing once again to try and put that bad final round from last week at the Humana behind him.


GPP Play:


Russell Henley
Draftkings: 8600
Victiv: 8200
Opened at 50-1
Key Stat: Two top 5’s in his last 3 starts


I think Henley will be very low-owned this week for the simple fact that he has a bad history at this event and there are numerous other strong plays at the 8000-9000 range.  However, Henley’s form is arguably the best of anyone in that group and he comes in having shown vast improvement in his driving, accuracy and GIR percentages.  Henley’s strength will always be his putting but he showed at the end of last year that he is a great driver of the golf ball when he is on, having finished 2nd at the longer TPC Boston course.  Having played so well in his past few events, I am fine throwing his course history out the window this week and taking a chance on his ability to score a ton of birdies if he gets hot.




Matt Kuchar:
Draftkings: 12000
Victiv: 11000
Open at 20-1
Key Stat: 77th driving accuracy, 136th driving distance


This is pretty simple, Kuchar has a fantastic short game but his play off the tee will always be his Achilles heel as he is not long and can be inaccurate at times as well.  He generally has not played well here and even though he comes in hot, I don’t see him challenging for the win and that alone makes him a bad play for his awfully high price tag.


Final Thoughts:


There’s some question marks around most of the highest priced guys as most are coming in cold or in questionable form.  I do think Rickie Fowler makes an interesting play but I could also see him missing the cut entirely.  Bubba Watson has a terrific record here and Spieth has had a great last two months but both have to win to have them pay-off their respective prices.  Mickelson played well last week but he’s more of a gpp play at this point since he’s so inconsistent.  All-in-all I prefer the form of the second-tier players this week and think those are who you should mainly target, saving the higher priced “stars” for some gpp only lineups.




In a more stacked field, I think the form of Gary Woodland and Hideki Matsuyama will rise to the top, with Woodland taking the victory by playoff.

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