2021 Waste Management Open Picks: Our Favorite Props and Matchup Bets at TPC Scottsdale
Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Rickie Fowler
The Waste Management Phoenix Open will look, and more importantly sound, different in 2021. With only 5,000 fans permitted per day, the PGA TOUR’s most boisterous stop will be a bit subdued. Don’t let that spoil the party, though, as this figures to be a fun tournament to bet on one of the biggest sports weekends of the year.
While a few big names, such as Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed, won’t make the trip to Arizona, we’ve got a world-class field ready to tee it up at “The People’s Open” with five of the top-10 players in the world and 21 of the top-50 are set to participate.
Here’s who we’re backing for our favorite matchups and prop bets at TPC Scottsdale:
Will Zalatoris Top-10 Finish (+450)
Nobody ever thought Zalatoris would be some flash in the pan after earning PGA TOUR status while playing on exemptions earlier this season, but we’re quickly learning that he’s become an immediate force with which to be reckoned. In seven big-league starts since September, he’s now finished in the top-eight four times, including an impressive T-7 at Torrey Pines last week.
This event should be right up his alley, as driving and iron play are obvious strengths which also correlate to this course. Trust me: There will be a time in the not-too-distant future when you’ll wish you could still get Zalatoris for a top-10 at this number. Take advantage of it while you can.
Bubba Watson Top-5 Finish
This is the time of year where we run through a string of “Bubba Tracks” where Bubba Watson plays the courses he likes, and generally does well. He fell short last week at the Farmers, but TPC Scottsdale is another place he seems to perform well, year after year.
Watson has back-to-back Top-4 finishes at this tournament, and has twice finished runner-up dating back to 2014. He clearly has a comfort level at this course and he may be one that will benefit even a bit more by the lack of crowds this year.
All of that is good enough for me to grab some value on Watson and overlook last week’s disappointing missed cut.
Rickie Fowler Top-5 Finish (+900)
Despite the long run of poor finishes, we are starting to see some glimpses of Fowler rounding back into his previous form. He gained 8.9 strokes tee-to-green a few weeks ago at The American Express and 4.9 at The Farmers Insurance Open. It looks like the time spent on his swing post-Masters may be paying off in terms of ball-striking.
One concern with all of the time spent on making a swing change is that he didn’t have much time to work on putting in that time. He has lost strokes putting in both events of this year and has even changed putters. With that being said, TPC Scottsdale is a great place for Rickie to re-gain his former excellent putting stroke as two of the top three putting performances of his career have come at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Fowler’s course history around here is undeniable. He has a win (2019), a 2nd (2016), and a 4th (2017) in his past 5 trips to TPC Scottsdale.
Scottie Scheffler to miss the cut (+240)
Something is seriously not right with Scheffler at the moment. He’s missed two consecutive cuts and ranks 114th in this field in SG: Approach over his past eight rounds.
Last week at Torrey was especially egregious, as he shot 7-over par on Friday to miss the cut by one stroke. He’s actually lost strokes on approach in five of his past eight rounds.
Getting him at almost two-and-a-half to one is a solid enough price, considering he missed the cut at this event last year as well.
Sam Burns (+105) over Gary Woodland
This really isn’t a Woodland fade, as I like how he’s been playing and he obviously won this event three years ago. But I like the number on Burns even better.
In two career starts at this event, Burns has broken par in both opening rounds, only to chase each of ‘em with a second-round 74 and ensuing missed cut. I’m not sure many young players have matured into their games more over the past few years than him, though, as he’s following a nice trajectory for where his career is right now.
Chunking a wedge shot into Devlin’s Billabong on his final hole Sunday afternoon undoubtedly cost him some money and left a bad taste in his mouth, as a potential top-10 turned into a T-18, but as I’ve written before, I love the fact that Burns’ game travels well and he should be ready to break through with a solid finish here for the first time.
Hideki Matsuyama (-118) over Harris English
Matsuyama is heading to one of his best spots on TOUR while English looks like his form has dipped since his TOC win.
Hideki has finished above English the last two events they’ve played and has never lost to English at TPC Scottsdale outside of his WD in 2018. English has played fine here at times and is capable of getting back on track, but we often see guys let their foot off the gas a bit after snapping an extended winless drought.
Byeong-hun An (+100) over Corey Conners
I’ll be honest this matchup was a secondary pick for me as the +105 for Rory versus Xander is the one that jumped out, but Landon covers that well below and I agree fully.
I do like Benny An getting even money over Conners as they are really quite similar players in that they are elite ball-strikers with putters that make or break (usually break) their week. The experience at TPC Scottsdale is what gives An a leg up for me this week as he has never finished worse than 23rd in four appearances, and has shown an ability to navigate this course on and around the greens.
For Conners, this will be just his second trip to the Waste Management and to me he should be the underdog in this spot.
Hideki Matsuyama (-118) over Harris English
While I don’t want to rely too heavily on a horrendous week from English in his missed cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, it does need to be a consideration. I do think it’s reasonable to expect a solid bounce-back week from English but it is difficult to see him actually contending.
Matsuyama has the skillset and course history at TPC Scottsdale and it’s my opinion that he should be a bigger favorite than -118 in this matchup.
Rory McIlroy (+105) over Xander Schauffele
Anytime we can get plus money on McIlroy when it’s not against DJ or JT it should immediately be pounced on. I’m pretty certain if he had any course history at TPC Scottsdale he would not be a dog in this spot, but since Schauffele has three top-20s here he gets the slight edge.
There’s no denying Schauffele’s talent, as the No. 4 player in the world ranks No.1 in this field in total strokes gained over his past 24 rounds. McIlroy ranks seventh over the same span however, and he’s been particularly locked in tee-to-green of late, gaining three or more strokes in that department in four of his past five recorded rounds.
If he could just get a few putts to drop we’re looking at an easy top-10 here, which should be enough to beat Schauffele head to head if looking at the latter’s history at this event.