2022 Waste Management Open Round 3 Picks, Buys & Fades: Target Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson, More
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images. Pictured: Bubba Watson.
- It's moving day at the Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale.
- There's no shortage of starpower near the top of the leaderboard, although Sahith Theegala is on top.
- Chris Murphy breaks down three players with value to make a run over the weekend below.
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|Si Woo Kim||30000|
The second round on Friday morning started before the first round was officially over. Eventually, Sahith Theegala stood over his sixteen-foot par putt on the eighth hole (his 17th of the first round) and was unable to convert. He would then go on to bogey his final hole of the round, and I began to wonder if he would let that linger as he went into his next 18.
Theegala quickly answered that question with three consecutive birdies on his opening three holes, which jumpstarted a round that would propel him to a two-shot lead heading into the weekend in Phoenix.
He will have quite a contingent of players chasing him as Brooks Koepka and Xander Schauffele will join him in the final group on Saturday. They will start the round two shots back and will look to put some quick pressure on the former 2020 Haskins Award Winner from Pepperdine.
Just ahead of them will be World No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, who is just three shots back in his first trip to the WM Phoenix Open. He is the last one who stands alone before the leaderboard really begins to bunch up. This sets up for a fantastic weekend of golf on a course that has been known to produce winners from behind over the weekend. This leaderboard creates a lot of betting value entering Moving Day.
3 Golfers to Buy in Round 3
Honestly, I’d write about Max Homa here again if I could, as he’s the only bogey-free player left through two rounds. I think I’ve covered pretty well how much I like him in this event, so I’ll transition to others further down the board.
The next player who stands out to me from a play and odds perspective is Bubba Watson. I am always interested in Bubba on tracks where he has had success in the past, and TPC Scottsdale is certainly one of those as he has five top-five finishes at this event, including two in the last three years.
Bubba will go into the weekend six shots back of Theegala, but he has been on fire with his ball striking and certainly could be set to make a move. He gained strokes on all but four of his approach shots on Friday. This led to 3.48 strokes gained on approach after he gained 1.99 with his irons on Thursday.
Bubba is often a streaky player, and clearly he is on a hot streak after a runner-up finish last week at the Saudi International. Realistically, I will be more interested in a bet on him in placing markets for a Top 5, but +3500 is a solid number for an outright on an established TOUR winner like Watson.
If you want a chance to get in on World No. 1 and Arizona State alum Jon Rahm, now is likely your time. He is seven shots back of the lead but just five short of what the books have listed as the top contenders to win this weekend. They still haven’t extended Rahm’s odds out into the 20s, but he certainly has the play tee to green to put together a low round and go into Sunday with some value at the +1800 listed on DraftKings.
Rahm gained more than four shots on the field with his ball striking on Friday, and nearly three of those came on approach. He was only able to shoot a one-under 70 as his putter simply didn’t cooperate. He had the fifth-worst putting day in the entire field, and the other four do not have a tee time this weekend.
Rahm is certainly capable of finding his putter and posting a really low round to get into the mix before the final round, and there are plenty of signs to think that may happen on Saturday.
Justin Thomas is another player in the same position as Rahm at 5-under. He is a player known for going low when playing from further back, with the biggest example being his Saturday 64 at the 2021 Players Championship. Thomas would turn that into a win on Sunday, and at +2800, he has the skillset to pull it off again.
JT was pretty solid off the tee on Friday, which is normally his weak point, but he wasn’t quite as sharp as we are used to on approach. If he can keep the ball in a good position with his drives, I expect we see him bounce back with his irons and give himself a bunch of looks for birdie. He and Rahm are similar in that if they can get a couple of things to go their way early, they can put together a low round to be contenders on Sunday.
3 Golfers to Fade in Round 3
Adam Hadwin checks in for my opening fade on Saturday. He had a solid bogey-free round on Friday with a 3-under 68 that moved him to a tie for fifth. I am concerned about some fading in the Canadian’s ball striking. He went from a Thursday where he gained over three and a half strokes in that metric to losing 1.68 strokes on Friday.
Hadwin’s biggest issue was that he hit just six fairways during his round, and he is a player that needs to play from the short grass to be effective. It led him to a bigger struggle on approach, but he was able to salvage a strong round and continuously save par with a putter that gained more than two shots on the field. He made over 97 feet of putts on Friday, and he simply can’t continue to solely rely on a hot flat stick to keep him in contention this weekend.
It’s good to see Alex Noren getting his name in contention more frequently on TOUR. There was a time where he was one of the Top 20 players in the world, but his game faded from that level. Now, he will go into the weekend at the WM Phoenix Open in a tie for eighth at seven-under.
Unfortunately, he’s a player I expect may head in the other direction on Saturday. He lost more than a shot to the field on approach in the second round and lost strokes with his irons on more than half of his approaches. Noren was able to salvage it a bit with a hole out for birdie from the greenside bunker at the Par 4 14th, but this is a course that will require precise iron play to contend as the greens firm up over the final 36 holes.
It’s the same story but a different player for the final fade which comes in the form of fellow Braves fan J.T. Poston. He too lost strokes to the field on more than half of his approach shots on Friday, despite being the best player in the field off the tee.
Poston has always been known first for his putter, so it is certainly encouraging to see him dialed in with one half of his ball striking. My biggest issue is that if he regresses back to his norm from the tee box, it doesn’t seem his iron play is in a spot to help him maintain his positioning within the top 10.