The Waste Management Phoenix Open is a party disguised as a golf tournament. In a sport that expects decorum, the event at TPC Scottsdale in the Arizona desert, bucks tradition.
The event gets approximately 700,000 fans during the week to watch golf, but mostly party. Crowds are raucous, and often filled up with adult beverages.
Miss the green on the famous par 3, 16th hole, and expect to get booed. Make a hole in one there, like Tiger Woods did in 1997, and the crowd will go ballistic.
Some golfers, though, can’t stand the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and make sure it is not on their schedule. Others, like Phil Mickelson, who is missing the event this year for the first time in his career, say it’s a tournament they always enjoy.
“It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was playing in my first Phoenix Open,” Mickelson told reporters last year. “Just amazing how many great memories I have when I come back and play here, how, what a great feeling I experience with the crowd and the many memories that I’ve had here. It’s a special place.”
We’ve handicapped this year’s field and picked some golfers who look good to book a win, and some others to avoid.
Hideki Matsuyama 16/1
The two-time winner (2016, 2017), has two other top-5 finishes in Phoenix. His scoring average in 21 rounds is 67.67. The only concerning factor is his tie for 15th last year. This course fits him, though, and the odds are very attractive.
Jon Rahm 7/1
In two events in 2020, the Spaniard has a 10th-place finish at the Tournament of Champions, and a second at last week’s Farmers Insurance Open. Last year at this event, he finished tied for 10th. In four trips to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Rahm has never finished lower than tied for 16th.
Justin Thomas 9/1
Could Thomas have finally figured out TPC Scottsdale? When he first came here he struggled, missing the cut in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, he finished tied for 17th, and last year, finished third. Could this be his year?
Golfers to Avoid
It’s not that Fowler is playing poorly, it’s just that history is against him. Since 1970, only two golfers (Johnny Miller 1974-75, and Matsuyama 2016-17) have successfully defended their titles.
Fowler might be able to pull it off, though. He’s played in two events this season, and finished in the top-10 in both.
Collin Morikawa 30/1
This is the 22-year-old’s first time at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and there might be a learning curve. His game could do well here, but experience with not only the course, but the crowds, is vital. He should probably be a good pick next year.
Webb Simpson 14/1
Simpson has a solid record at TPC Scottsdale, but his string of top-15 finishes was broken last year when he tied for 20th. He did have an impressive third-place finish at the Sony Open three weeks ago, but that was the last event he played on the PGA Tour.