TPC Scottsdale, Arizona
Par 71, 7,266 Yards
The Waste Management Phoenix Open has long been the best attended event on the schedule and this year should be no different. TPC Scottsdale has undergone some serious renovations over the last year with over $12 million dollars spent on upgrades.
Strategic changes have touched all 18 holes, including new green locations on four holes and major changes at the par-5 13th. Some of the fairways have been realigned and bunkers have been reshaped making them more punishing. The large Bermuda greens were also resurfaced and could run quite fast depending on the weather conditions. The fairways are quite wide and forgiving, but if a tee shot goes a little wayward, it could end up in the desert or a deep bunker.
The signature 16th hole is an enclosed arena that holds some 20,000 spectators and tends to offer a football stadium feel to it with a great atmosphere. It is an arena that can erupt at the sight of a good tee shot, and give any player who is in the hunt a good ego boost going into the final few holes on Sunday.
The course features three par 5’s that all measure between 550 and 560 yards and should be reachable in two by some of the bigger hitters in the field. The course also has four par 3’s and 11 par 4’s. The par 4 17th can be reached off the tee by some of the longer players and should offer some excitement on Sunday.
This course will require solid ball striking and will favour guys that can bomb the ball. With the changes made over the past 12 months, I think it’s worth looking at players who are in good current form at the moment that have played well here in the past.
Bubba Watson 14/1
A trip to TPC Scottsdale will be Bubba’s second event on the PGA Tour in 2015 after he played well at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions earlier this month, finishing solo 10th. In his last four competitive events, Bubba has finished no worse than T11, including a win at The WGC HSBC Champions in Shangai. He followed that with a T11 at The Hero World Challenge, finishing on eight under par in total.
His record at TPC Scottsdale is quite impressive with two top 10’s and a top 15 in his last three starts. He came agonisingly close to winning here last year but lost to Kevin Stadler on the first playoff hole. He also finished solo 15th in 2013 and T5 in 2012. Statswise, Bubba ranks 26th in driving distance, hitting an average of 300 yards off the tee. He also ranks first in birdie average and first in approaches from 175-200, which is a good stat for the par 3’s and approaches into the short par 5’s.
With good current form and good previous form on this course, Bubba looks like a player that has the game to suit TPC Scottsdale and should have a good week here.
Rickie Fowler 18/1
This will be Rickie’s first event of 2015 and he will be looking to kick off with a good week at TPC Scottsdale. He comes here with some of the best form in the field with nine top 10 finishes in his last 10 competitive starts, which includes five top 5’s. This good run began back in June, where he finished T2 at The US Open and continued on from there. He had a good finish to the season in the FedExCup Playoffs finishing T4 at The BMW and solo 8th at the Tour Championship.
In his last two starts, he had a good performance at the WGC HSBC Champions finishing T3 and followed that with another top 10 at The Hero World Challenge in December finishing T6. He has played well here in the past with a T13 in 2011 and a solo 2nd in 2010. Fowler is a player that has the distance and the current form to overpower this course and have a good week here.
Hideki Matsuyama 28/1
Matsuyama has been playing good golf since the start of the new season and began with a T3 at The Frys.com Open and followed that with another top 10 at The Shriners finishing T10 on 13 under par.
Most recently, he has recorded two top 15’s in his last three starts, finishing solo 13th at The Hero World Challenge and T3 at The Hyundai Tournament of Champions, losing to Patrick Reed by one stroke.
He played well here last year shooting a total of 14 under par to finish T4, two strokes behind the eventual winner, Kevin Stadler.
Statswise, he ranks 39th in driving distance hitting it an average of 298 off the tee. He also ranks 36th in GIR, 14th in strokes gained tee to green and 24th in approaches from 225-250, which is good for the par 5’s. After a good week last year, Matsuyama looks to have the game and the form to go well here again.
Brendan Steele 33/1
Brendan Steele is playing good golf at the moment and hasn’t missed a cut in his last nine events. He had a great week at The Humana Challenge shooting an impressive final round 64 to finish on 21 under par and T2 for the tournament. Before last week, his best finish this season was back at The Frys.com in October where he posted a T21. Steele is a horse for the course here with three top 10’s in his last three appearances at TPC Scottsdale.
He had a good week last year finishing T6, he finished T6 again in 2013 and T5 in 2012. Steele ranks 11th in driving distance, hitting it an average of 306 off the tee. He also ranks 21st in strokes gained tee to green, 18th in birdie average and fifth in approaches from 200-225. With good previous form here and a great finish last week at the Humana, Brendan Steele looks like a good shout here.
First Round Leader –
Bubba Watson 20/1
With such a good record on this course over the last few years, Bubba has shot no worse than a 70 in his opening round here at TPC Scottsdale, and that has steadily improved over the last three years. He shot an opening round 64 here last year and co-led after the first round with Y.E Yang. He opened with a 67 in 2013, a 66 in 2012 and a 70 in 2011, which suggests he could come out and shoot another low round in round 1 this coming Thursday.
Final Selections –
Bubba Watson 14/1 2pts EW
Rickie Fowler 18/1 1 pt EW
Hideki Matsuyama 28/1 1 pt EW
Brendan Steele 33/1 1 pt EW
First Round Leader-
Bubba Watson 20/1 1 pt EW
Total Staked = 12 pts
Good Luck and enjoy the golf,
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