Updated 2022 Waste Management Open Odds & Picks for Keith Mitchell, Scottie Scheffler, More
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images. Pictured: Keith Mitchell
Click here for full Waste Management Open odds from BetMGM
|Harold Varner III||+5000|
|Si Woo Kim||+8000|
|Charles Howell III||+10000|
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – If you’ve never attended the WM Phoenix Open as a spectator, put it on your bucket list. Whether you enjoy golf, partying, people-watching or some combination of all three, it’s unlike any other tournament. Like they say about the elevation changes at Augusta National, television doesn’t do it justice – although this one has nothing to do with the course layout.
This is about my 10th time (give or take) covering the event on-site and while I can confirm that nobody will implore you to chug a beer when you walk through the front gates Monday morning, I can similarly guarantee that the usual festivities will very much be in effect as the week continues.
One of my favorite stories from here is an oldie-but-goodie, from past champion Kenny Perry at least 15 years ago. He was introduced to a woman who lived nearby and asked if she ever attends the event. “’Oh, we love the Phoenix Open,” she exclaimed. “We go every night!’ Perry had to explain that there’s actually a golf aspect to the week, too.
I’ve seen plenty of raucousness at TPC Scottsdale over the years, but one of my personal favorite stories – at least, of those I can tell – happened years ago. I was leaving the 16th hole, from which I’d live-blogged for some 10 hours, which included every single shot hit on the famous par-3 that day. As the sun was setting, I was walking near a couple of stumbling frat-bro types and couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation.
“Dude, you know what I just realized? We’ve been here the entire day and we didn’t even see a single golf shot!”
That’s hardly a rare occurrence here, as the venue simply serves as the backdrop for a party and the golf is merely a hindrance for those who aren’t into it.
If the merriment can become any bigger, it just might this year, as for the first time, the WMPO will be contested with Arizona as a state with legalized sports gambling.
For years, fans at the aforementioned 16th hole have bet amongst themselves on everything from caddie races (RIP) to which player would hit it the closest. We’re still at least a year away from TPC Scottsdale being home to a brick-and-mortar sportsbook which will be funded by the PGA TOUR and operated by DraftKings, but plans are already in place for a proposed 12,000 square-foot facility on 3.2 acres of this property.
As if this fire needed a little more fuel, you’d better believe that some of the more than half-million expected ticket-holders this week will be partaking in the legal wagering.
With 15 of the world’s top-20 players in this field, we should expect to see plenty of big names on the leaderboard throughout the four rounds. I’ll start with my favorite outright play on the board, who isn’t one of those players, but instead one who’s trending up and is very capable of winning this week.
One player to win the tournament.
Keith Mitchell (+13000)
Well, I’ve been bullish on Mitchell for a while now, writing him up in my annual “The Leap” column and in each preview during the weeks he’s played so far this year — and he hasn’t disappointed, finishing 7th-MC-12th, the last of which at Pebble Beach this past weekend.
There’s even more reason to like him at this one. The first is analytical. Strokes gained off the tee is an important metric at TPC Scottsdale. Unlike some events we’ve seen recently, in which a player’s advantage off the tee doesn’t offer a significant edge, this one sets up well for those who hit it long and (mostly) straight.
That is decidedly Mitchell’s game, as he ranked 11th in strokes gained off the tee last season and is seventh this season. The fact that he fared well at places such as Waialae and Pebble Beach, where SGOTT wasn’t as important, should only mean bigger things are on the horizon at a venue like this one.
The other reason I’m picking him here is intangible. In recent years, we’ve seen Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland win this title. I think it often takes a little swagger, a little desire to show off, in order to succeed in front of the biggest crowds of the year. Granted, that’s not a foolproof idea; Webb Simpson and Hideki Matsuyama don’t exactly fit the profile.
Mitchell does, though, and one week after playing well while partnered with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, I believe he’ll be prepared to evoke some of that swagger once again. With 18 of the world’s top-30 players in the field, there are plenty of safer names at shorter prices, and while the days might be over when we could get him at 250-1 as he was last year, I’m taking a shot here on a hot hand who should fit the course and event.
Potential selections for one-and-done pools.
Jordan Spieth (+1600)
What a wild event it was at Pebble for Spieth, who was coming off intestinal issues during a missed cut the previous week. He started the weekend 11 strokes off the lead, posted a third-round 63 that included a death-defying approach shot on the eighth hole that he later said almost gave him an anxiety attack, grabbed sole possession of the lead on Sunday’s back-nine and eventually finished runner-up behind Tom Hoge.
There’s reason to believe that #SpiethMagic will continue this week, too. Last year, these two events were flipped. It was Phoenix where Spieth rekindled his career, posting a wild third-round 61 to finish T-4, then contended well into the final round at Pebble, posting a T-3. He tends to play his best golf at some of the same courses each year and in successive starts.
Unless you’re dead-set on saving him for the Masters or U.S. Open down the road, this feels like a nice week to take advantage of his momentum.
Louis Oosthuizen (+3500)
In last week’s preview, I talked myself out of Matt Fitzpatrick. Even though I said I liked him, there were too many things going against him – especially the fact that he hadn’t played in two months. Well, his T-6 finish should serve as a reminder that one man’s rust can be another man’s fresh start.
I mention that here, because Oosthuizen hasn’t finished a tournament since mid-October, when he finished T-38 at the CJ Cup. (He WD’d from the RSM Classic five weeks later after an opening-round 69.) Everyone’s favorite major championship runner-up was scheduled to compete in Saudi Arabia last week, but tweeted that travel issues kept him from getting there in time. He’ll be playing this week instead for the first time competitively in nearly four months, but there are signs that could be a positive.
First off, he was T-11 here last year and has a best finish of solo third at this event back in 2017. Secondly, he’s a guy who takes a lot of time off and some of his better results over the years have occurred after extended absences. I missed on Fitz, but we won’t be fooled again.
Andrew Putnam (+10000)
I’m in three different OAD pools and each is unique in the way we make our selections. In one of them, we must make all picks for all events by the beginning of February, which means a lot of guessing and plotting for later in the year. In another, we make picks at three different checkpoints during the season, with about a dozen selections due at each checkpoint. And in the third, we make picks on a weekly basis, with the luxury of having until the first tee time to choose a player.
That latter scenario is the most popular form of OADs and it allows us to go with the hot hand. Putnam has been sneaky-good so far this year, with ascending results of T-27, T-14 and T-6, the last of which coming after he held a share of the 54-hole lead at Pebble. He MC’d in his first two starts at this event, but finished T-7 last year, proving he can post some low scores on this course.
If you don’t want to burn one of the big names here, Putnam is a guy who’s clearly on his game right now.
Gary Woodland (+10000)
I usually like to save the Hail Mary OAD plays for later in the year, when some poolsters are trying to play catch-up, but really, it’s never a poor strategy to zig when everyone else is zagging.
While I do believe that selections will be varied this week, if you’re seeking an all-or-nothing play who might not generate any interest from any of your competitors, Woodland at least carries plenty of upside.
He won this tournament four years ago and owns two other top-10s among his dozen career starts. He certainly hasn’t played his best golf lately, with a T-39 at Torrey Pines following three MCs, so there’s some buyer-beware risk at stake.
Again, though, there’s also some win equity. If you’re down big early and looking to make a move on the entire field, Woodland should afford a unique play.
One player to finish top-five.
Scottie Scheffler (+400 for top-five)
Not gonna lie: I was originally going to take Sungjae Im here, then never checked the field list, because, I mean… it’s Sungjae! He plays almost every week and skipped Pebble, which should mean he’s ready to roll at this one. Not to mention, he’s played here the past three years, finishing 17th-34th-7th. And yet, he’s not playing.
I’m legitimately flummoxed. Anyway, I had a backup plan for top-five and it’s not a bad one at all, with Scheffler taking this spot after a T-7 last year. He’s cashed top-five tickets in three of his last six starts.
One player to finish top-10.
Aaron Wise (+500 for top-10)
Much of what I wrote above for Mitchell can similarly be applied to Wise, on a lesser scale. He doesn’t quite own the same gaudy driving stats, doesn’t quite have the same swagger and doesn’t have any results at this event which suggest he loves the course, but these were two of my breakout picks for this season and I like targeting Wise on the West Coast Swing, so this one should make some sense.
It’s only a matter of time before we see him winning again, so – like Mitchell – I don’t want to miss it when it happens.
One player to finish top-20.
There’s nothing super-sexy about Hadwin’s game, but he still offers strong value at a decent number for his skill level. Once ranked as high as 41st in the OWGR, he’s now 159th, despite top-25 results in two of his first three starts this year, including a T-16 last week.
His results at the WMPO are similarly unsexy, but he’s made the cut in each of the last six editions of this one, finishing between 12th and 50th. He’s not a guy on whom I’d go all-in, however he’s been known to post some low scores on desert courses and seems to be trending nicely. I think top-20 is well within his grasp this week.
One player to finish top-30.
If Wise is Mitchell-lite, then Clark might be Wise-lite, though I mean that in no offense to either of the former University of Oregon teammates. Another solid driver of the ball, Clark owns three top-30 results in his last six starts.
What I like most about him, though, is his ability to go low – especially on this track. Two years ago, he opened with a 61, just one stroke shy of Phil Mickelson’s tournament record. In near-perfect conditions, that offensive firepower will be necessary once again and it shouldn’t be a surprise if we see him on the leaderboard entering the weekend and perhaps throughout it, as well.
One player to finish top-40.
You’ll want to check the final field list before making this bet, as Young was originally listed as an alternate, then made his way into the field, then got bumped back to alternate status after a few of last week’s top-10 finishers leapfrogged him.
He’ll likely need a pair of WDs to earn back his spot, but if it happens, he could enjoy a Beau Hossler-like week, as Hossler wasn’t initially in the field at Pebble, but got in late and finished solo third. Young is ranked 19th in strokes gained off the tee this season and has finished top-40 in four of his past six starts.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
If you want to argue that Jon Rahm, the world No. 1 and a former Arizona State golfer with ties to the area, is the epitome of a safe option this week, I won’t argue. There are very few weeks when Rahm doesn’t find his name on the leaderboard and one that means a little extra to him should be a great fit.
But I also believe Thomas, fresh off a disappointing weekend at Torrey Pines in his last start, will bring a proverbial chip on his shoulder — one which has been growing for 11 months, the last time he claimed a victory. He’s finished 13th-3rd-3rd-17th over his last four starts here.
That next win is coming and it might very well be coming this week. Though JT is always a short number in the betting markets, he could be worth an outright play here and is certainly viable as an anchor for any DFS lineup.
A lower-priced option for DFS.
According to Data Golf, the closest correlation to TPC Scottsdale of any course on the annual schedule is Silverado, home to the Fortinet Championship. That could leave us favoring C.T. Pan, Scott Stallings or Patrick Rodgers for lower-priced options, as each finished in the top-10 there earlier this season.
Look a little deeper, though, and we’ll find that Steele not only owns a pair of victories at that event, but the noted course-horse – as in, he tends to play well at many of the same tourneys each year – likes it in Phoenix.
While finishes of 30th-MC-MC in his last three attempts might suggest contrary to this idea, his record in the previous seven editions of this one was 3rd-16th-17th-26th-6th-6th-5th. Regularly underpriced on DFS, he should pay off this week.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Hideki Matsuyama (+2200 for FRL) and Billy Horschel (+4500)
I was torn here between the player I picked for FRL two weeks ago at the Farmers Insurance Open (Matsuyama) and the player who actually was FRL there (Horschel). Instead of choosing, I’m listing ‘em both.
As usual, I’m writing this preview before tee times have been listed. Oftentimes, we want to target players from the morning wave for FRL plays; the wind is usually lighter and the greens aren’t as chewed up. This week, though, I always lean toward those playing in the late wave.
That’s because when the first groups tee off Thursday morning, they’ll be greeted by a temperature around 45 degrees that won’t break 60 until they’re well into the back-nine. Those teeing off after noon, however, will be treated to conditions near 70 degrees or more.
A two-time champ, Hideki has notoriously been a fast starter here, as last year’s opening 71 was preceded by Thursday scores of 67-68-69-65-65-69-66. Billy, meanwhile, has started 66-63-71-66 at this event. I like both of them in the first round, but if only one of ‘em tees it up in the late wave, I’ll easily take that guy.
One player who should beat comparable players.
As I’ve often written, my favorite matchup plays are those which have a chance of winning on either Friday or Sunday. Essentially, I’m looking for the proverbial high-floor/high-ceiling player, which I’m guessing you’re reading right now and thinking, “Yeah, aren’t we all?”
OK, that’s fair, but let’s focus on that floor, since there’s nothing better than clinching a head-to-head wager when there’s still two rounds left to play. Daniel Berger, who’s listed in the field after WDing last week due to a back injury, leads the PGA TOUR in consecutive cuts made with 13; he’s followed by Justin Thomas at 12 and Xander Schauffele at 11.
In a share of fourth place are Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Marc Leishman and – you guessed it – Henley, who like the others has made the cut in 10 straight. That streak includes three top-10s and seven top-25s, offering upside for those matchups which extend to Sunday, too, giving us those two chances of winning these bets.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value.
- Viktor Hovland (+1600)
- Max Homa (+8000)
- Keegan Bradley (+13000)
- Russell Knox (+15000)
- Cam Davis (+13000)
- Patrick Rodgers (+15000)
- Sepp Straka (+25000)
- Garrick Higgo (+25000)
The Big Fade
One top player to avoid at this tournament.
Brooks Koepka (+3000)
It’s a dangerous game to fade Koepka on any week, especially this one, as he returns as defending champion and a two-time winner of this event. So, why do it? Because his recent results have left plenty to be desired.
In his last five starts, dating back to the fall, Koepka MC’d at the Farmers Insurance Open, finished T-28 at the 38-man Sentry TOC, T-9 at the 20-man Hero World Challenge and MC’d at both Houston and Mayakoba. We’ve collectively learned to never worry about his performance until major championship season, considering he never seems too worried himself.
It’s quite possible that he uses this week for the kick in the butt his campaign needs and steps on the gas pedal a bit, but I’d rather take more of a wait-and-see approach before going all-in.
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