2023 WM Phoenix Open Odds, Picks for Collin Morikawa, Max Homa, More
Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Morikawa.
There are a million reasons why those who love golf feel such passion, and that sentiment can easily extend to those who love following the game at its highest professional level.
If not foremost among these reasons, then at least near the top of this list is the fact that every event is innately unique, from the host venues to the playing conditions to the cast of characters themselves. There are no reruns on the schedule.
We can cite examples of this every week, but never is the dichotomy greater than the current transition, from the golf porn that is the Monterey Peninsula, where the amateur competitors were more well-heeled than the pros, to the chaos that is TPC Scottsdale, the closest thing we have in this game to ancient feral battles at the Colosseum.
The reality, of course, is that any tournament buttressed against us making our WM Phoenix Open picks is going to feel like a completely disparate endeavor altogether, but even the usual mayhem is getting an enhancement this time around.
In the initial year of designated events on the PGA TOUR, this one is the first of four to receive such elevation on a rotating basis. What that means is a boosted entry list featuring plenty of big names, including the likes of Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay and Collin Morikawa for just the second time in their respective careers.
Throw in that it just happens to coincide with the Super Bowl being played in the Phoenix area this week – and the not-so-insignificant fact that thousands of Philadelphia fans could descend upon this property for the first time – and mayhem is probably an understated description of what this will look like.
I’ve lost track of how many times I have covered this tournament from site, but the total number stretches somewhere into the teens. I’ll add one more to that list this week, as Michael Collins and I will be hosting our SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio show from the 17th tee on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, then providing coverage during each of the tournament rounds. It’s a tough gig, but somebody’s gotta do it.
Over the years, I’ve admittedly flip-flopped on the type of player who’s best suited for success at this event. I don’t mean from a technical/strategic perspective – it’s no secret that a strong tee-to-green game translates well here.
No, I’m talking about player personalities.
There have been times when I’ve maintained that players with the most swagger – guys who are confident, cocky even, those who love being in the limelight and playing to the crowd – own a distinct advantage over their more introverted competition. Case in point: Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler all have won this title in the past.
I can similarly see the opposite of this, though. Maybe the guys who quietly go about their business have an edge, as they’re not getting too caught up in the hoopla outside the ropes. Scottie Scheffler, last year’s champion, certainly isn’t a flashy type of guy. Same goes for Webb Simpson and Hideki Matsuyama, who have also won in recent years.
Well, glad we cleared that up.
I’ve got a plane to catch, as I’m looking forward to catching up with a few hundred thousand of my closest friends. See you on the 17th tee – and in the meantime, here are the picks, starting with a guy who should ball-strike his way up the leaderboard this week.
Click arrow to expand the WM Phoenix Open odds via PointsBet
|Si Woo Kim||+9000|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+40000|
Outright Winner (Short Odds)
One player to win the tournament.
Collin Morikawa (+2500)
It came down to Collin Morikawa or Xander Schauffele for this spot, but in the end, it was all about price – and I believe that the former is 2.5x more likely to win than the latter.
Plenty has been made over Morikawa grasping defeat from the jaws of victory at the Sentry TOC, and it wasn’t the first time he’s botched a big Sunday lead. If he wasn’t already a proven winner, I’d be hesitant here. If this was his first start since that loss, I similarly might stay away.
The reality, though, is that the 25-year-old is already a five-time winner and followed up that disappointment at Kapalua with a third-place finish at Torrey Pines. His usual lofty ball-striking numbers were through the roof at each of these events and perhaps more impressively for him, his putting numbers were also positive in relation to the field.
According to Data Golf, there are more approach shots from 150-175 yards at TPC Scottsdale than any other 25-yard range, which is Morikawa’s bread and butter. He hasn’t played here since 2020, when he finished T25, but the course should suit him perfectly, and his game is certainly trending in the right direction.
Pick: Collin Morikawa Outright
Outright Winner (Long odds)
One player to win the tournament
Sam Burns (+5500)
In most situations, we examine some analytic combination of form and course history to help suggest a rationale behind our bets. There are also certain times, we’ll all admit, when our gut influences a hunch play. And then there are times like these, when an outright price seems so egregious that you must jump on it, even if those previous reasons don’t necessarily align.
It won’t surprise me to eventually see something closer to +4000 on Burns in the early-week marketplace. However, at the time of this writing, him having a number longer than Sahith Theegala and Taylor Montgomery, and equal (or close) to Maverick McNealy and Tommy Fleetwood – none of whom have won a PGA TOUR event before – feels like an injustice toward this four-time champion.
I suppose we can understand it: Burns looked inconsistent at the end of last year, rusty at the beginning of this year and failed to make the cut in three of his four prior appearances at this tournament. But then there’s this: He finished T11 in his most recent start at The AmEx, where he gained strokes in every major category, and serves as a smart comp to his buddy Scheffler, who happened to win this one last year.
At half this price, Burns might not have garnered too much interest from me, but at the current number, his name leaps off the board.
Pick: Sam Burns Outright
Potential selections for one-and-done options.
Xander Schauffele (+1100)
In recent years, I’ve often been asked about the potential for PGA TOUR injury reports – and trust me, I’ve also done plenty of asking this question myself, in conversations with PGA TOUR executives. The answer is usually a bit nebulous, though I imagine logistical issues in compiling such information is a sticking point. Perhaps the bigger concern, though, is that such designations are often open to interpretation, which can vary greatly from player to player.
Anyway, that all leads to Schauffele, who might’ve listed himself – in NFL injury terms – as either “doubtful” or “questionable” entering the Sentry TOC, when he was dealing with a back injury. He eventually withdrew during the second round, leaving us wondering about his impending status for the next few months. Even if he could play, many assumed, the injury would no doubt hamper his capabilities.
Not so much. He returned two weeks later and finished T3 at The AmEx, then played again the following week and posted a T13 at the Farmers. If there was any lingering doubt about his health, he quashed that at Torrey Pines, repeatedly saying he felt great and was at or near 100 percent.
After a week off, he returns to a place where he’s never finished worse than 17th in five career starts and was top-three in each of the last two years. The outright number is too short for my liking, but I do want some Schauffele investment this week, and OADs seem like a nice place to start.
Cameron Young (+3500)
In most cases, if we’re chasing a player who competed the previous week, we’d prefer one who at least competed on the same side of the country rather than halfway around the world. In this case, though, Young finished some 36 hours before any of his cohorts who made the cut at Pebble Beach, which should leave him more well-rested than the Monday finishers, despite the travel.
Of course, that’s not the only reason to consider Young, who was runner-up to Abraham Ancer at the Saudi International last week, his eighth top-three finish in the past 16 months. A victory feels like an eventuality now, though remaining a part of the PGA TOUR feels like an important prerequisite to that.
Many of the players on the Saudi leaderboard were either those already playing LIV Golf or rumored to be heading there. Young has maintained that he’s not leaving, but another big week on the PGA TOUR could help reinforce that decision.
Sahith Theegala (+5000)
I’m going to keep listing him in my previews until he either gives us reason not to or the PGA TOUR closes out the West Coast Swing. I have a feeling the latter will happen first. Returning to the site of a coulda/shoulda/woulda T3 from last year and fresh off a T4 in his most recent start, Theegala owns that sweet intersection of form and history that we like. I’ll have an outright play and will take him in some DFS rosters, but I’d imagine he’ll be a popular OAD selection for those who want to fade the top-10 types.
One player to finish in the top five
Sungjae Im (+600 for top five)
It’s difficult to be as talented and accomplished at such a young age as Sungjae Im yet still be underrated, but I’m firmly convinced that’s the case here. The 24-year-old has two career wins, nine other top threes and 30 top 10s in 131 starts – a 22.9 percent clip which speaks to his high-level consistency.
Results don’t tell the entire story, though. He’s currently among the top 70 in strokes gained in every major category, one season after finishing top 45 in all of those areas. This year, he owns three top-20 finishes in four starts, and at the WMPO, he has two top 20s in three starts.
That might suggest a more cautious prop than this one, but I love the matchup of his skillset here. All told, Im has gained strokes against the field in 12 of his last 13 starts, and we should expect another strong week here. I love him in all formats, with a sprinkling on outrights, plus props and DFS, too.
One player to finish in the top 10
Keith Mitchell (+650 for top 10)
Last year, my podcast partner (check out the Links & Locks pod everywhere you find your favorites pods!!) Ben Everill and I devised something called the Swagger Ranking to help prognosticate this tournament. The feeling was this: With thousands of lubed-up fans in attendance, it takes a player with some big, uh, guts to perform in such an arena.
There’s been a correlation in the past, and while the idea made sense, it didn’t quite translate, as Scheffler failed to break into our 15-man list, and the man on top (Koepka) doesn’t even play this TOUR anymore. All of that said, Keith Mitchell placed seventh in our ranking and finished T10, his best result in four tries at this tourney.
Coming off a big week at Pebble, I like him to step on the gas pedal again – and as regular readers of my previews undoubtedly know by now, it doesn’t take much for me to start driving that Mitchell bandwagon.
One player to finish in the top 20
Garrick Higgo (+600 for top 20)
The comparisons are obvious – maybe not in style but performance. I’ve already compared him to Cameron Champ or an early-career Si Woo Kim, and I’ll gladly accept any other nominations of high-ceiling/low-floor, all-or-nothing types of players. When things aren’t going well for the 23-year-old South African, they’re usually not going well at all; in other words, his B-game hasn’t been enough to produce strong results at this level.
What we’ve also seen, though, is that his A-game is very good and certainly capable of contending against some of the world’s best players. My sense is that as he matures over the next few years, he’ll become a more consistent player – much like Kim has done – but for now, I want to catch him during one of these streaky runs, like the one he’s on right now. By the same token, if you’re going to play him, go big.
I don’t see much value in a top-40 prop when he owns perhaps just as much chance of finishing in the top 20 if things are clicking again. Based on a T21 result last year, I like taking that risk here.
One player to finish in the top 30
Wyndham Clark (+220 for top 30)
After finishing last year with four consecutive top 30s, he’s failed to break that barrier in either of his two starts this year. Still, he remains a guy on my radar because he hits it a long way and putts well. Maybe that’s not totally the secret sauce for success at TPC Scottsdale, but there isn’t a course in the world where that isn’t beneficial.
One player to finish in the top 40
Erik Van Rooyen (+200 for top 40)
After a disappointing year which saw him miss the cut in 10 of 21 worldwide starts, Van Rooyen was impressive in his 2023 debut, posting a T6 at The AmEx a few weeks ago. His second start didn’t go quite as well at Pebble last week, as he missed the cut, but upon closer inspection, it was really just a poor start in his opening 10 holes at Spyglass (which included four bogeys and a double) that was the big undoing.
I’m still bullish on him long-term, so I’ll take a very conservative chance on a top-40 finish here.
DFS Free Bingo Square
A safe plug-and-play option for DFS.
I still believe Jon Rahm remains the ultimate Bingo square right now. His current massive-ceiling/massive-floor combo potentially leaves him undervalued despite being the most expensive player on the slate — especially at his hometown event, where he’d relish in the journey of arriving as a raw college kid who couldn’t speak English to being not only one of the game’s premier talents, but an eloquent influencer on issues in the game.
As I often write in these previews, though, there’s little point in me telling you something that you already know. So instead, let’s pivot to Homa here.
Look, I love Max, you love Max, everybody loves Max. He’s a smart, fun, interesting dude who just happened to be a steely-eyed closer, too. Even so, on the heels of his sixth career win at Torrey Pines, I just can’t bring myself to recommend him at an outright number (+1600) equal to Justin Thomas and shorter than Patrick Cantlay.
For DFS, however, he does intrigue me, as that universal Homa adoration might not translate to ownership percentage with so many other big-time stars similarly priced. He has finishes of 14-42-6-26 here at WMPO in his own adopted hometown, and fresh off that victory, he should be playing with a dangerous nothing-to-lose attitude at this one.
A medium-priced option for DFS lineups
Man, how quickly things can change in this game. That line can have a few different meanings under this Fowler header. Things have certainly changed for him since the days when this event served as a personal ATM, as he posted a win, two runners-up and a fourth place during the previous decade before his game took a precipitous downturn.
But things have changed for him recently, too – and as a result, they’ve changed for us and how we view him. Reunited with swing instructor Butch Harmon, Rickie is fresh off a T11 in his last start at the Farmers Insurance Open and should make for a popular selection in this tier at a course where he’s enjoyed so much success.
It wasn’t long ago that he was an easy pass in roster construction, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s among the higher-owned plays this week. If so, I’m still willing to side with the masses here and try to get contrarian elsewhere.
A lower-priced option for DFS lineups
In his first start of the year, Buckley finished runner-up at the Sony Open, just one shot off the pace of Si Woo Kim. In his next start, he missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open, but that alone doesn’t tell the entire story. Buckley opened with a 66 on Torrey Pines’ North Course, only to struggle to a second-round 80 on the South Course during a brutally difficult day when his putter went ice cold.
The truth is, he still gained more than a stroke over the field with his irons, so while some might view his results table of “2-MC” and presume that the runner-up was an outlier, I’m looking at that score of 80 – and especially his putting that day – as the real outlier here. I think he remains a smart play for DFS and don’t mind him for top-20 props, either.
One player to post the low score Thursday.
Hideki Matsuyama (+4000 for First-Round Leader)
There’s a beautiful dichotomy – and maybe a bit of irony – in the fact that an introverted personality such as Matsuyama owns more success at golf’s biggest party than anyone else over the past decade. I’ve often targeted players here who have a little swagger, those who enjoy the spotlight and feed off the frenzy, but Matsuyama has thrived as a polar opposite who simply goes about his business without much revelry.
In nine career starts, he’s never missed a cut (though he does have one WD). His 33 career rounds include just one over-par score and two even-par scores. That’s led to a handsome first-round scoring average of 67.56, with a pair of 65s in his two winning performances. If you want to play him for outrights or props, I certainly don’t blame you; if you’ve saved him for OADs or choose to play him in DFS lineups, I’ve got no problem with that.
Matsuyama’s wild inconsistency over the past year, though – he’s become as difficult as any top player to prognosticate on a start-to-start basis – leaves me just a little bit cautious with the four-round plays, so I’m targeting him here for FRL wagers, as he’s posted Thursday totals of 70-68-67 in three starts so far this year.
Two players who should beat comparable players.
Adam Svensson (+25000) and Luke List (+25000)
I’m listing two players at the same big number here, each of whom has potential for head-to-head plays but also owns some value in props/DFS.
Svensson has gained strokes on approach shots in eight of his last nine starts, and the only time he didn’t was when he lost a minimal 0.05 to the field in the Cadence Bank Houston Open. During that time, a win at the RSM and T12 at the Fortinet were his only top-30 finishes, but he’s only missed two cuts during that time. In matchups against others in that 250/1 range, I’ll take a guy who usually sticks around for the weekend.
As for List, simply put, he’s mispriced at this number. Like Svensson, he’s been making cuts lately. Tee to green usually isn’t too much of an issue for List; it’s the putter which doesn’t often heat up. OK, that’s an understatement, as he’s failed to gain strokes with the flatstick in 15 straight measured events.
And yet, we saw last year at Torrey Pines what can happen if he makes a few, as his lone PGA TOUR victory remains the only time in the past two years that he’s gained more than a stroke on the greens. If he can just putt at something close to field average this week – and yes, that could be asking a lot – List should own plenty of value.
Also Receiving Votes
Other players who should provide value
Tom Kim (+2800), Keegan Bradley (+6500), Aaron Wise (+6500), Billy Horschel (+8000), Brendan Steele (+13000), Kurt Kitayama (+15000), Lucas Herbert (+15000), Gary Woodland (+15000), Matthew NeSmith (+20000), Emiliano Grillo (+20000), Lanto Griffin (+30000)
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