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Waste Management Phoenix Open: Expert Picks

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The season traveled to Hawaii, California, now on to Arizona.

PGA: Waste Management Phoenix Open - Final Round The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK

Tournament Information

Waste Management Phoenix Open
Date: January 30th – February 2nd
Course: TPC Scottsdale
Purse: $7.3MM ($1.3MM to winner)
FedEx points: 500 to winner(s)
2019 Winner: Rickie Fowler (-17)

Course

TPC Scottsdale (Stadium Course) — Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish built this course in 1987. It is one of the most heavily attended tournaments of the year with over 20,000 capacity. The 72 par course has 72 bunkers, some are a little deep across vast desert terrain amidst the holes. Hole 16 has a coliseum affect as the stands surround the shot onto the green, it’s a raucous atmosphere, one only mirrored by the Ryder Cup.

PGA: Waste Management Phoenix Open - Second Round Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

My Starting 4

Rickie Fowler (1st selection this year) — Last year’s winner absolutely THRIVES off the atmosphere here. He has been a top 12 player each of the last three years here. Rickie struggled mightily at Torrey Pines last week but in prior January tournaments he finished 5th and 10th.

Matt Kuchar (1st selection this year) — Matt loves this course and is the only golfer to land in the top 10 each of the last three years here. Matt had an up and down January with a 14th place finish followed by a rough 74th at the Sony Open of Hawaii. Matt’s putting ability make him a favorite of the crowd during those iconic scenes of revelry on the greens.

Xander Schauffele (1st selection this year) — It amazes me that Xander does well here as he doesn’t seem to have the demeanor that thrives off the atmosphere and yet he was 17th here in 2018 and 10th here in 2019. He finished 90th last week at the Farmers Insurance Open which actually speaks well to his expectations at TPC Scottsdale. The last five times he missed a cut, here is how he rebounded in the next tournament: 24th, 14th, 19th, 49th and 2nd.

Byeong-Hun An (1st selection this year) — Three years of top 25 finishes for Byeong-Hun at the Waste Management. He struggled in his last two tournaments averaging a 93rd place finish but that should not be cause for alarm, he’s only played those tournaments once before and it was years prior. He will bounce back here behind his 12th longest driving distance and 40th birdie average. Last year he was the best on the tour around the green as well.

My Bench 2

Sebastian Cappelen (1st selection this year) — We are jumping to a new state with a new feel, new grass, new dynamics and that is something that Sebastian will have to compensate for but the Danish 29 year old has been lights out the last two tournaments with a 6th place finish at the American Express and a 21st place finish at Farmers Insurance, he is showing a progression in the wrong direction with a 66 on Friday working up to a 74 on Sunday, hence the bench spot. He’s currently 34th in driving distance and 42nd in strokes gained off the tee.

Chesson Hadley (1st selection this year) — Chesson is fascinating because it is very normal for him to struggle through California, come to TPC Scottsdale and shine. He has been among the better golfers here the last two years with a 5th place finish in 2018 and a 20th place finish in 2019. His January numbers tell a murkier story: 98th at the Sony Open of Hawaii, 29th at the American Express and 109th last week at the Farmers Insurance Open. For years he struggled here but as of late, he has it figured out.


2019 Stats (after three tournaments)

Starting 4: Avg finish 53rd (34th percentile)
Bench 2: Avg finish 77th (50.4th percentile)