2023 WM Phoenix Open Picks: Outright Bets for Cantlay, Morikawa
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Cantlay.
After weeks of course rotations and pro-am formats, we finally arrive at the first “designated event” of the new PGA TOUR schedule. Every notable non-LIV golfer is in the field this week for the WM Phoenix Open in what is sure to be one of the most raucous events of the last 10 years.
This event has always been known for its electric atmosphere and crazy fans. We can expect more of the same this time around, as the Super Bowl is also in Phoenix this weekend. It is going to be a big party all weekend.
As for the course, TPC Scottsdale (Stadium Course) is a par-71 that measures 7,261 yards. This is a desert course, but it does feature water hazards in play on six of the 18 holes. The fairways are generous, but they do narrow as you get closer to the green. The greens are large and feature tiers, which places an emphasis on approach play.
This course has always favored ball strikers, and that’s largely because of how the greens are set up. With the tiers, players have to hit precise shots to give themselves quality birdie opportunities. Elite putters will have a tough time making up a bunch of strokes on the field if they are putting from 40 feet on every hole. Scrambling is also much easier here than your average TOUR event. If you are a fan of bad putters, this is the week for you.
In terms of difficulty, this course has been around TOUR average over the last five years. The winning score is typically between -15 and -19, but we might see a couple players crack the 20-under mark this week. The field is the best it has ever been for this event, and the forecast looks tame for all four days.
Collin Morikawa (+1800 at FanDuel)
I never bet on Morikawa but am on board this week. Throughout his career, he’s been a strong total driver of the ball, and he’s been an elite iron player. His short game has been hit or miss, but he does tend to have spike weeks with the putter. In his first two events of 2023, he has gained 5.4 and 1.7 strokes putting. He didn’t get the win in either event, but he did finish second and third.
This bodes well for him moving forward. While he hasn’t played this event every year like many, he finished T25 in his debut even though he lost 4.9 strokes putting that week. If the putter cooperates again, we have to like his chances come Sunday.
Pick: Collin Morikawa Outright
Patrick Cantlay (+2100 at FanDuel)
I know the field is stacked, but it seems like Cantlay is getting disrespected in the betting market this week. Over the last two seasons, he has won on TOUR as much as nearly anyone.
He’s certainly in good form, as he’s posted seven top-eight finishes in his last 12 starts (with a win during that stretch). He doesn’t have a weakness in his game, and he wasn’t bothered by the large crowds at this event in his debut last year (where he finished second after losing in a playoff to Scottie Scheffler). I love the odds for a proven winner who nearly held up the trophy at this event one year ago.
Pick: Patrick Cantlay Outright
Brian Harman Top 20 (+250 at Caesars) and Top 40 (-105 at DraftKings)
I’m doubling down on Brian Harman this week and am betting him to finish in the top 20 and the top 40. My model always seems to love him, and he’s popping in a few other models that I highly respect.
He missed the cut his last time out but had finished T35 or better in each of his previous nine starts (with three top-three finishes during that stretch). He gains strokes off the tee regularly, he has made big improvements with his approach play, and he’s very good around the greens. He’s also 4-for-4 at this event with three top-40 finishes.
Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the festivities!
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