2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open Buys & Fades: Looking Back and Ahead Using Strokes Gained Data
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Will Zalatoris.
The story of the week at the Farmers Insurance Open was Patrick Reed — in more ways than one.
Reed pulled away from the field for a five-stroke victory at Torrey Pines, highlighted by another long eagle at the sixth hole to separate himself from the pack.
Unfortunately, though, nearly all of the questions, comments, jokes, and memes all centered around an embedded ball ruling at the 10th hole on Saturday afternoon.
Reed spent his victory press conference addressing everything about the situation from the day before, while his fellow competitors dropped their opinions about him after they finished as well.
It’s an unfortunate way to tarnish a great performance on a great course, but the good news is we will all get to relive it again in less than six months at the 2021 U.S. Open.
Captain America will look to capture his second major championship at that event, but for now, he heads to Saudi Arabia (yes, Saudi Arabia) while the rest of the TOUR heads east to Arizona for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Several players will look to carry some positive momentum from the Farmers into the Waste Management this week, and one of my favorites is a young star on the cusp of becoming a household name.
3 Buys for the Waste Management Phoenix Open
Torrey Pines has always been a “home game” for Xander Schauffele, who grew up in the area and even played high school golf matches on this week’s tournament courses.
That course knowledge had not previously yielded good results, as he had five missed cuts in six appearances heading into the Farmers this week.
Xander overcame the first hurdle by making the cut by one shot on Friday and then took full advantage over the weekend. He would climb his way to a tie for second by the finish, as he was one of just two players to shoot in the 60s both Saturday and Sunday.
The irons were the key for Schauffele, as he gained 4.69 shots on approach on the week. Overall, he gained more than six shots on the field tee-to-green and seemingly overcame a mental hurdle to put himself in contention on a course he had struggled on in the past.
Xander will now head to Phoenix, where he’s finished no worst than a tie for 17th in his last three appearances.
Henrik Norlander seemed to come out of nowhere to get into the hunt during the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open. His birdies at the 6th and 10th holes put him within one shot of the leaders, but he was unable to gain any more ground as Reed pulled away.
Ultimately, a tie for second was a fantastic result for the Swede, as he was the other player to play both weekend rounds in the 60s.
In three rounds on the South Course, Norlander finished second in strokes gained tee-to-green, gaining 9.52 shots on the field. He averaged more than one shot gained in each of the three metrics that make up the category, showing just how well his game was put together this week.
He will make his first trip to the Waste Management next week but will do so in good form.
The legend of Will Zalatoris came into the fall swing season with extremely high expectations after an incredible season on the Korn Ferry Tour, which included 10 top-10 finishes, including a win, in just 16 starts.
He followed it up with a sixth at the U.S. Open, eighth in Puntacana, and fifth at the Shriners. Now he adds a tie for seventh at the Farmers, and the legend continues to grow.
Zalatoris finished his trip to Torrey Pines with an incredible eagle on the 72nd hole to climb to another top-10 finish.
The eagle capped a great day for the 24-year-old, who gained 2.21 strokes on the field tee-to-green during the final round.
He would finish the week gaining strokes in all categories, buoyed by a great week on approach and around the greens.
I have already claimed him as my pick to win the Waste Management, as I think the course sets up well for the player I believe is the next young star on TOUR.