TPC Scottsdale, Arizona
Par 71, 7,266 Yards
Well we came close last week with both Rahm and Finau sitting in second and third spot after 36 holes. Rahm had a poor finish but Finau finished T6 getting a full place (PP paying 1-7) for a small profit for the week. Let’s hope we can go one better this week in Scottsdale.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open has long been the best attended event on the schedule and this year should be no different. This year particularly should be special for the hosts as this is the 30-year anniversary of the tournament. TPC Scottsdale underwent some major renovations back in in 2014 with over $12 million dollars spent on upgrading the course.
Strategic changes have touched all 18 holes with some of the fairways being realigned and bunkers reshaped with a view to making them more punishing. The large Bermuda greens were also resurfaced and tend to be a bit on the quick side. Roughly 100 yards was added to the course but it hasn’t made a huge difference to the scoring. The fairways are quite forgiving but if a tee shot goes a little wayward, it could end up in the desert or a deep bunker.
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 15th is a reachable par 5 with water coming into play so the second shot will certainly get the players attention. The course also has four par 3’s and 11 par 4’s. The 17th is a driveable par 4 and also has water in play and has been known to trip up the leaders in the final round over the last few years.
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.
This course doesn’t really favor length or accuracy but judging by previous winners, a hot putter and hitting plenty of greens appear to be the ingredients for success here. With 11 par 4’s in total, it’s also worth looking at par 4 scoring along with good scrambling.
Webb has been trending nicely in the right direction lately and given his excellent form here in Arizona over the last few years, he is well worth backing this week.
He started the season with a respectable T17 at the Safeway and followed that with a T20 at the Shriners Open in Vegas which included three rounds of 70 or better. He began the New Year with an impressive T4 at the Sony shooting rounds of 67,70,63,65 to post 15 under par in total. Simpson was particularly impressive over the weekend in Waialae shooting a total of 12 under and putted superbly.
His record here in Scottsdale is very impressive with form figures 2,14,10,8,8 since 2011. Simpson has played a total of 20 competitive rounds here and has shot a 70 or better 16 times so this course clearly suits his eye.
Statswise, Webb is hitting an average of 71% of greens in reg and ranks 38th in SGTTG. He seems to be getting used to the new putting regulations ranking an impressive 18th in strokes gained putting, fourth in scrambling and third in par 4 scoring. All in all, he looks great value at 35/1 here.
Daniel Berger is another player that seems to be trending in the right direction with three top 20’s and a top 25 in his last five starts. He played well at the WGC-HSBC Champions back at the end of October finishing T24. Berger then had another decent week in Bermuda at the Hero World Challenge finishing a respectable T14 which included two 70’s over the weekend.
The Florida native started the New Year with a four rounds of level par or better in Kapalua finishing T11 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions posting 10 under par in total. He then travelled to Waialae for the Sony Open and shot four rounds of 69 or better to finish T14 for the tournament closing with an impressive final round 64.
These large Bermuda greens could suit the American as both of his PGA Tour victories to date have come on the Bermuda greens of TPC Southwind in Tennessee, home of the St Jude Classic.
He has a good record here with two top 10’s in three appearances finishing T7 last year and T10 in 2015. Statswise he is hitting just under 70% of GIR and ranks 19th in SG off the tee. With good current form and a good record here, Berger looks to be a good shout here.
The Swede played brilliantly last week in Torrey Pines but just fell at the last hurdle. He got himself into a three-man playoff and ended up losing to Jason Day early on Monday morning in a six-hole playoff. Despite that, Noren played great throughout the week shooting rounds of 70,66,69,73 to post 10 under par in total.
He has nine European Tour wins to date, one in 2017 in Wentworth and four in 2016. These wins came on various different courses from English parkland (BMW PGA 2017, Bristish Masters 2016) to tricky Scottish links courses (Scottish open 2016, Nordea Masters 2015) to mountainous South African courses (Nedbank Golf Challenge 2016), this guy seems to have the game to contend anywhere.
He has been in decent form over the last couple of months finishing T31 at the WGC-HSBC Champions and followed that with a T12 at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa. Noren then teed it up at the Hero World Challenge in Bermuda finishing T12 in early December.
It’s also worth noting that the Swede has great form on desert style courses over the last few years finishing second in the Dubai Desert Classic in 2015 and T4 at the Qatar Masters in 2013. Noren has proven he can play, contend and win anywhere on any style of golf course. After coming close last week in Torrey, he could go one better in Arizona.
I backed Austin Cook a couple of weeks ago at the CareerBuilder in California where he was in great shape after 54 holes holding a one-shot lead, and then went through a bad spell in round four shooting a disappointing, uncharacteristic 74 to finish T14. That being said I am willing to overlook that slight blip and give him another chance here on a course I think could suit.
He has been playing well so far this season with a win and five top 25’s in his last seven starts. He started with a respectable T25 at the Sanderson Farms Championship back in October followed by a T20 at the Shriners Open in Vegas posting three under for the week.
Cook then teed it up at the RSM Classic where he didn’t shoot worse than a 67 for the tournament (including a second round 62) to win by four from J.J Spaun on 21 under par.
He then travelled to Kapalua and finished T22 and followed that with a T18 at the Sony where shot rounds of 67,71,65,66 to post 11 under in total.
The young American looks like he could have the game to suit this week ranking 27th in GIR, 18TH in scrambling, 45TH in SGP, 14TH in par 3 scoring and 29th in par 4 scoring. With a precise long game, good putting and solid short game Austin Cook looks great value here.
Final selections –
Webb Simpson 35/1 1pt EW
Dan Berger 35/1 1pt EW
Alex Noren 40/1 0.5pts EW
Austin Cook 60/1 0.5pts EW
Total staked = 6 pts
(PP and Coral paying 7 places on 1/5)
Good luck and enjoy the golf.
Follow me on Twitter @DoublebogeyDB6
Follow me on Facebook www.facebook.com/doublebogey6