WM Phoenix Open odds, picks, best bets: A stacked field, Xander Schauffele’s chances, an Andrew Putnam longshot and more

AL MUROOJ, SAUDI ARABIA - FEBRUARY 06: Xander Schauffele of USA tees off the eighth hole during day four of the PIF Saudi International at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on February 06, 2022 in Al Murooj, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)
By Dennis Esser Feb 9, 2022 30

With most of the sports and gambling world focused on the Super Bowl in Los Angeles, the WM Phoenix Open has put together one heck of a field for the 2022 edition. World No. 1 Jon Rahm once again tees it up at TPC Scottsdale where he has played extremely well but never won. Six of the top 10 players in the world are in the field this week. Reigning Masters Champion and two-time winner of the WM Phoenix Open, Hideki Matsuyama, is almost overlooked when you get caught up in the participating players list.

I’m so glad to be past the part of the season where I have to worry about pro-ams and three-course rotations. This week is a whole different kind of variable when you bring in the raucous party-like atmosphere of the WM Phoenix Open. Some players revel in it and thrive, like Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler, while other players like Matsuyama go about their business like they have blinders on. My bets and FS teams will be a good mix of both styles.

TPC Scottsdale is a course that rewards players who gain strokes consistently from tee to green with strokes gained approach being more of a key than driving distance. The last six holes at TPC Scottsdale create so much drama that it becomes a live golf bettor’s dream. You have two easy par 5s sandwiching a long hard par 4 from 13 to 15. Then you have the crowd and the pressure at the stadium stands on the short par 3 16th. After you get through that you come to a drivable par 4 that has seen as much magic as it has tragedy. The 18th used to be a little scarier but seems to be a bit tamed with so many players gaining distance off the tee.

Last week my bets didn’t pay off, but if you follow me on Twitter you would have seen me post Jordan Spieth still sitting at 22-1 early in his round on Saturday. I know a few of you did and jumped on it from my DMs. Picking up Spieth at 22-1 allowed me to hedge Tom Hoge’s win late in the round. Those are the opportunities I’m constantly looking to capitalize on. One of my favorite tools to live bet or pick up players in between rounds is the live strokes gained leaderboard on Rickrungood.com. It’s free and a great tool for any bettor.

Betting Slip

Justin Thomas +1200 (all odds from BetMGM) has four top-fives in his last seven tournaments despite not quite clicking on all cylinders. He has gained strokes on approach in every tournament since the U. S. Open. He has been really good at TPC Scottsdale with back-to-back third place finishes in 2019 and 2020. Last year he played with a heavy heart after learning about his grandfather’s death during the final round. You may be able to shop this a bit and get him at 14-1.

Viktor Hovland +1600 is the newly crowned No. 3 player in the world and possibly the hottest golfer on the planet. He has three worldwide wins in his last five starts. He has only played here once missing the cut in 2020. I think that his lack of success here gives us a nice opportunity to get him at some decent odds.

Xander Schauffele +2200 comes into this week kind of stuck in neutral as far as how his game is coming together. He’s putting really well, but hasn’t been gaining a ton of strokes in any one category to see him capitalize. He finished second here last year and has gained over 36 strokes on the field in his four tries here. BetMGM is giving out the best odds to win on Schauffele this week and I’m happy to add him to my card at this number.

Webb Simpson (WD) has finished first and second here in the last five years. I was hopeful for him heading into 2022 after his incredible ball-striking display at the RSM Classic in the fall, but he struggled at the Sony Open. Those struggles, though, have led to getting one of the best course horses here at very tempting 40-1 odds.

UPDATE: Simpson withdrew from the tournament on Wednesday.

Bombs

Aaron Wise +8000 burned a lot of gamers — including me — with his missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, but that doesn’t change my outlook on his 2022 season. Over his last 36 rounds he ranks inside of the top 40 in the field in every major statistical category besides putting. He has actually gained strokes recently on the greens with his new putting stance and grip. You can probably still shop this number and get him at 100-1.

Andrew Putnam +8000 has made seven of his last eight cuts and has gained strokes on approach in each of those tournaments, besides his rounds at Pebble Beach where he played close to a zero on strokes gained approach. He followed up his 14th place finish at the Farmers Insurance Open with a sixth place finish at Pebble Beach. He’s trending in the right direction and you can shop this price all the way up to 125-1 to win.

DFS Plays

Jon Rahm $11,600 has seen his price finally get to a point where many gamers will have to think twice about plugging him into their lineups. The strength of the field may bring him more into play than the average tournament stop. I have a hard time paying up with a $600 discount for Justin Thomas or a $900 drop to Patrick Cantlay.

Justin Thomas $11,000 See above.

Patrick Cantlay $10,700 is teeing it up for the first time at the WM Phoenix Open. He had a chance to win on Sunday at Pebble Beach and just couldn’t get it going. He really pops in my model as a value despite not having any course history. I love the way he handled the Ryder Cup in the fall and he’s off to a great start in 2022. I really like the way my lineups look with Cantlay as my top-priced guy.

Hideki Matsuyama $10,400 could be a bit of a forgotten stud at this price. Priced above Hovland, Schauffele and Spieth, who will all draw heavy ownership numbers, means he can be a sneaky play this week despite being a two-time champion here.

Viktor Hovland $10,200 See above.

Xander Schauffele $9,700 See above.

Sam Burns $9,300 missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open and is priced in a bit of a dead zone as many players will be looking at the course horse Bubba Watson at $9,000 coming off of a second place finish at the Saudi International. He hasn’t had much success here, but could be a bit of a pivot/leverage play this week.

Scottie Scheffler $9,100 was a major factor in my Farmers Insurance Open lineups two weeks ago. This week he’s priced just right at a place where he has had some success, finishing T7 last year. I like him as a pivot play off of Bubba Watson this week. I will probably play Scheffler 60/40 to Watson in lineups.

Bubba Watson $9,000 is five for his last 10 here in top-five finishes. That’s amazing course history. He is coming off a second-place finish at the Saudi International where he probably thought he would, at the very least, have a shot to win in a playoff when Harold Varner stood over an almost impossible eagle putt on 18.

Seamus Power $8,400 is the cut, print, repeat guy until further notice. He’s scored over 100 DK points in five straight and despite his weekend struggles at Pebble Beach he is still one of the hottest golfers on the planet.

Russell Henley $8,200 followed up his second-place finish at the Sony Open with a 14th place finish at the American Express where he was in a lot of optimal lineups. He’s been off the last two weeks, hopefully working on his pressure putting. He doesn’t have the best course history here with only three top 30 finishes in nine tries, but his current form has me intrigued. In reality Billy Hoschel at $7900 will probably cause a lot of people to skip this price region all together.

Harold Varner III $7,800 has two top 15 finishes here in the last three years and of course is coming off a huge win that vaulted him into the top 50 in the official world golf rankings. What better way to celebrate a win than coming to this party in the desert and putting up another solid performance?

Talor Gooch $7,800 is priced too low to be ignored. He has struggled here in his starts, but he seems to have turned a corner in his career and I find myself plugging him into my lineups before almost anyone else.

Luke List $7,700 has some very good course history here and of course is coming off of his first career PGA win. Getting that monkey off of his back and having the confidence of making that important birdie putt on 18 in regulation could springboard him to further heights. I really like him at this price.

Andrew Putnam $7,500 isn’t going to sneak up on anyone this week because of his current form. I’m going to sprinkle him in, but I’m not jumping on the bandwagon at this price.

Kyoung-Hoon Lee $7,300 has missed one cut since the Rocket Mortgage in July and finished T2 here last season. I always regret not playing him more when the lineups lock on Thursdays.

Aaron Wise $7,100 See above

Mito Pereira $7,000 is 11th in the field in strokes gained approach and 13th in strokes gained off the tee in his last 36 rounds. His missed cut at Pebble Beach gives us a nice price break this week.

Troy Merritt $7,000 is a streaky player who played well in the fall and is coming off a fourth-place finish at Pebble Beach. He has gained strokes off the tee in three straight and gained 4.5 strokes on approach at Pebble Beach last week. I will use him as a pivot off of Pereira in lineups.

Doug Ghim $6,600 is riding a seven straight made-cut streak. He’s been solid, but not spectacular in any one category. That’s why he hasn’t finished inside of the top 25 in any of those tournaments. Michael Thompson at $6,700 is probably the better upside play in this range, but I am holding out hope for Ghim. If Charley Hoffman was healthy I would be eyeing him up at $6,700 as well.

Matt Wallace $6,500 is the type of ball-striker who should play well here. I think he’s a good gamble at this price.

Preston Summerhays $6,000 will definitely be in at least one of my studs and duds lineups. The Arizona State freshman is a name to remember for future PGA Tour success.

Betting insights from BetMGM

Line Movement

  • Justin Thomas opened +1400, now +1200
  • Scottie Scheffler opened +2800, now +2500
  • Brooks Koepka opened +3000, now +3300

Highest Ticket%

  • Jordan Spieth 7.2%
  • Jon Rahm 6.6%
  • Justin Thomas 6.4%

Highest Handle%

  • Jon Rahm 14.9%
  • Justin Thomas 10.5%
  • Jordan Spieth 8.2%

One and Done

Maverick McNealy did not come through for me last week. It seemed like every time he made birdie he would follow it up with a bogey. I need some big money to get myself back into picture, but it’s tough with such a strong field this week. The top owned in one and done will probably be Justin Thomas, Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson. I’m taking Justin Thomas and hoping to put a W on the board.

P.S.: If you are going to a Super Bowl party or to a bar to watch the big game please take an Uber or taxi and stay safe.

My stats come from my go-to site for golf statistics and lineup building: FantasyNational.com. I look forward to bringing you the very best in fantasy golf coverage and betting at The Athletic and interacting with all of you and maybe building some winning lineups and betting cards together. Please leave your questions below or hit me up on Twitter @CoachEsser.

(Top photo: Oisin Kenir /Getty Images; The Athletic may receive an affiliate commission if you open an account with BetMGM through links contained in the above article)

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