2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open Betting Preview

Phil and the crowd think that it's going in.

Phil and the crowd think that it’s going in.

Phil Mickelson, wonky back and all, returns to the site of his near 59 this week as he looks to defend his title at the 2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

2014 Waste Management Phoenix Open Fact Sheet

  • Course: TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Course
  • Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Yardage: 7,216 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Phil Mickelson
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson, Keegan Bradley, Ryan Moore and Bubba Watson

TV Schedule

  • Thursday – 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday – 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

Key Storyline(s) This Week

As it stands right now, Phil Mickelson has yet to decide if he’s going to play this week and defend his title thanks to his injured back, but based on his quotes from this week, I think he’s going to try and tee it up, which is probably a mistake given the state of his back. If he decides to play, he can become the event’s first four-time winner, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath on that one. Other things to keep an eye on:

  • Lee Westwood is making his first ever appearance at the event. He usually opts to play in the middle east at this time of year, but for whatever reason, he decided to stay in the US this week and give it a go.
  • Spencer Levin is making his first appearance anywhere in over a year after finally recovering from thumb surgery. His last start was a missed cut at the Farmers in 2013.
  • The PGA Tour banned the caddie races this year at the 16th because, well, I’m not really sure why to be honest. They talked about it being a safety issue, but since they never asked the caddies, I’m not sure how they could come to that conclusion. In any event, one of the most entertaining aspects of a very entertaining tournament is no more.

TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Course

From a playability standpoint, the Stadium Course is one of the easier venues that PGA Tour players get to see and that’s reflected in the scores of the previous winners. In the last ten years, the winning score has been higher than 15-under par only twice, with Mickelson’s 28-under par total tying the tournament record set by Mark Calcavecchia back in 2001. Typically, those hot with the putter have been able to gain a big advantage here, including Mickelson last year, which was no doubt aided by his being first in greens hit for the week. Being a big hitter though has not really helped the most recent winners, with only Kenny Perry back in 2009 cracking the top-10 in driving distance.

As you probably know, this tournament is not your typical PGA Tour event, with over 500,000 people expected to attend, mostly to experience the stadium atmosphere of the par-3 16th. Your standard golf crowd of crazy, loud, and drunk patrons make it a a pretty special place that some players love and others just can’t seem to get used to. I’ve embedded some videos below of the best moments from the past few years at the 16th.

Thoughts On The Favourites

  • Phil Mickelson: As mentioned above, nobody knows yet if Mickelson is going to play, but even if he does, this is a big stay away spot.
  • Webb Simpson: Didn’t play here last year, but has registered back-to-back top-10’s here in 2011 and 2012, plus he’s in good form with six straight top-25’s including a win and a final round 64 in his last start at the Humana.
  • Keegan Bradley: Two solid finishes here in his two starts with a tie for 15th and a tie for 24th. He also hasn’t missed a cut since the U.S. Open, and in his fourteen starts since that MC, he’s been in the top-20 eleven times.
  • Ryan Moore: There’s a lot of love out there for Moore this week in the betting previews I’ve seen so far, and it makes sense. He does everything well, and he’s got a good combination of current and course form. Back-to-back top-10 finishes worldwide, and ended up in solo 4th here last year after rounds of 66-66-65-65.
  • Bubba Watson: Watson always seems to play pretty well here, making six of seven cuts with two top-10’s and a scoring average of 68.5 in 26 rounds. He had an absolutely brutal year in 2013, and there’s a good chance that if he’s going to break out of that slump, he’s going to do it at a place like this, but I’m staying away for now.

Suggested Plays

Keegan Bradley (Best Odds 25-1 at Unibet)

Bradley told several of the mainstream golf writers that they should be picking him this week, and while I can’t say for sure if they did, I really like his chances here. If Mickelson was healthy, it would be his tournament to lose, but with him a little banged up, it’s a very open event and you can make the argument that Bradley is the most talented of the bunch.

Bill Haas (Best Odds 33-1 at bwin)

Haas continually flies under the radar in every event he enters, but he’s one of the most consistent stars on the PGA Tour and he has gotten better in each of his last three starts here going from 29th to 19th to 6th. He wasn’t great last week at the Farmers, but I think he bounces back here this week.

Graham DeLaet (Best Odds 40-1 at 888 Sport)

I was hesitant on DeLaet last week because it had been over two months since he teed it up, and he went out and nearly won the Farmers, finishing one shot behind Scott Stallings. Just about everyone has DeLaet pegged as a breakout star in 2014, and I completely agree. That first win is coming, and at 40-1, you might as well just put him on your card every week.

Ian Poulter (Best Odds 55-1 at Paddy Power)

Poulter never really got it together last week at Torrey Pines, but I’m chalking that up to a combination of rust and course difficulty. He still rolled the ball very well on the greens and while he hasn’t really been in contention here in the past, he does have a round of 63 in there back in 2010 and has never been over par.

Pat Perez (Best Odds 80-1 at bwin)

Much like DeLaet, Perez nearly won last week and finished as the runner-up to Stallings. Perez is a very streaky player and he’s been getting it together in his last few tournaments, plus he’s always been considered one of the most gifted players on the PGA Tour, so who knows, maybe he’s finally starting to figure it all out.

Nicolas Colsaerts (Best Odds 85-1 at Betfair)

I know I said that bombing the ball doesn’t help at the stadium course, but hear me out. Colsaerts missed the cut here last year in his first year on the PGA Tour, but he did open with a first round 65 before a second round 75 caused him to go home early. Last week, he started with rounds of 69 and 67 before Torrey Pines took over and dropped him into a tie for 19th. I think he bounces back here this week and gets himself into the top-10 at the very worst.

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