Waste Management Phoenix Open Betting Preview

Kyle Stanley

Kyle Stanley (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Kyle Stanley will attempt to defend his title this year at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course, but as usual when it comes to this event, there’s only one thing that anyone really wants to talk about: The famed par-3 16th and the crazy party atmosphere surrounding the hole.
 
2013 Waste Management Phoenix Open Fact Sheet

  • Course: TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Course
  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Yardage: 7,216 yards, par 71
  • Defending Champion: Kyle Stanley
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Nick Watney and Bubba Watson

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM (NBC)
  • Sunday – 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM (NBC)

You don’t often hear the words “crazy party atmosphere” uttered around a PGA Tour event, but the par-3 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course is a fun time. About 20,000 fans pack in around the entirety of the hole, from the tee box to the green and they drink, smoke, chant and heckle for four rounds. It’s only 162 yards long, but much like the island green at TPC Sawgrass, the surroundings make it a much more difficult approach than it should be. There’s typically a wait of at least an hour to even get a seat, so if you’re planning on getting in, make sure you give yourself enough time. Obviously with the different atmosphere, some players react positively and others, negatively. Rickie Fowler takes the positive approach as you can see below.
 
Two years ago, Fowler gave away his trademark Puma hats to the fans on his way to the green:

And last year, he asked the crowd to make some noise before he teed off, Happy Gilmore style:

As I mentioned though, it’s not all positive, as John Senden found out a few years ago when he had some trouble on the green. This is the only place in the world of golf where you’ll see fans boo the players:

Of course, it’s only one hole on the course, but the rest of TPC Scottsdale is relatively pedestrian until you get to the final four holes. The 15th is a reachable par-5 with water in play from the tee, and we’ve talked about the 16th already. The 17th is a drivable par-4 which can yield eagles quite easily, while the 18th is one of the most exciting closing holes on the PGA Tour. With water in play off of the tee and deep bunkers guarding the right side of the fairway, accuracy is paramount, and the approach into the green doesn’t get any easier with another deep bunker on the right side of the green, and a heavily sloped green on the left. There is a ton of potential for a change at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the day on Sunday with these four holes, and we saw that last year with Stanley coming from behind to steal the victory away from Spencer Levin. No lead is safe at TPC Scottsdale.
 
Key Storyline This Week
 
Phil Mickelson has always had success at Scottsdale, winning twice and placing inside the top-10 on six other occasions, but he’s been awful to start 2013, and is definitely on the wrong side of his career, turning 43 this June. I don’t think anyone knows what to expect out of Mickelson this season, and he hasn’t exactly inspired confidence in his first two events. Another bad tournament doesn’t signal the end of the line, but I can’t place any money on him without seeing something of positive consequence first.
 
Suggested Plays This Week
 
Bubba Watson (Best Odds 18-1 at Betfair)
I took Watson last week at Torrey Pines, but he had to withdraw due to illness. He says he’s feeling better this week, and I don’t think there’s a more talented player in the field, so 18-1 is simply too good to pass up. We talked about the final four holes above and when you consider that there’s a par-5 and a drivable par-4, that falls right into Watson’s wheelhouse. With his length, nobody would be shocked if he came away with several eagles on those two holes alone. He’s finished outside the top-10 on the PGA Tour once since the end of August, and has a pair of top-10’s at Scottsdale in the past. He’s already having fun with the 16th hole too, asking fans on Twitter for suggestions on what he can do when he gets to the tee.
 
Rickie Fowler (Best Odds 18-1 at Bet365)
As mentioned above, Fowler clearly doesn’t get intimidated by the atmosphere at Scottsdale. He’s also on a run of good form, finishing in the top-6 in his last two events, and that was after an awful opening round 77 at Torrey Pines had him in last place on Thursday night. He’s had success here in the past, finishing as the runner-up to Hunter Mahan two years ago. He’s actually gone down to the favourite at roughly 14-1 in a lot of books, so get your money in on him now before the tournament gets underway.
 
Martin Kaymer (Best Odds 28-1 at Paddy Power)
People like to rip on Kaymer for his fall from being ranked as the world’s best player a few years ago, but he’s very quietly put together a solid run of form in Europe over the past few weeks. He’s placed inside the top-10 in four of his last five events, including Abu Dhabi where he was paired with the Rory McIlroy/Tiger Woods power couple. Now, he doesn’t have a good track record at TPC Scottsdale, missing the cut in his lone appearance, but he did grab a runner-up to Luke Donald in the Phoenix area in the 2011 Match Play. He’s playing too well to pass up at 28-1.
 
Hunter Mahan (Best Odds 35-1 at Stan James)
Mahan won this event in 2010, and has always played well in Phoenix, winning the Match Play last season against Rory McIlroy. He’s only had a pair of top-10 finishes since April of 2012, but I’m giving him a look this week. He actually played pretty well last week at Torrey Pines, and he’s a notoriously quick starter. 35-1 seems to be a little high considering his past history here.
 
Aaron Baddeley (Best Odds 66-1 at Betway)
2007 was a long time ago. Aaron Baddeley won this tournament six years ago back when it was known as the FBR Open, and he’s only got one win since, but there’s reason for optimism here. The Australian has battled injury and inconsistency over the years, but he was decent at the Humana, finishing tied for 27th, and he grabbed a T-6 last week at the Farmers. Even with all of the problems, the putter has never been an issue, and if there’s one quality that most pros would like to carry with them, it’s the flat stick. I like him this week on an each-way bet.
 
Graham DeLaet (Best Odds 170-1 at Betfair)
DeLaet will win an event sometime soon, and while I’m not sure this is the one, 170-1 seems crazy high for him. He finished tied for 9th last week, and if he can get the putter going, he’ll be a force on the PGA Tour. I usually try to give one dartboard pick a week, and it goes to DeLaet at TPC Scottsdale.

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