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Waste Management Phoenix Open Friday Betting Picks: Don’t Trust the Hot Starts from Wyndham Clark, Billy Horschel

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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Xander Schauffele.

Entering this week, Wyndham Clark had played 21 rounds this season with a low score of 67. On Thursday, he beat that by a half-dozen strokes, posting an opening-round 10-under 61 to grab the overnight lead at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

As anyone who’s ever attended golf’s biggest party understands, though, the real festivities don’t even get started until the three-day weekend.

In other words, let’s not bank on Clark going wire-to-wire.

I always like checking out which players are striking the ball nicely early in a tournament, and the easy answer for this one so far is: Lots of ‘em. A total of 13 competitors gained at least three strokes on the field tee-to-green, led by Sung Kang at +5.68.

Of those who are hitting it well, but not quite getting the most out of it yet, the guy I’m keeping the closest eye on is Xander Schauffele. Of course, the problem with X-man is that his odds have now dropped from 18-1 pre-tournament to 12-1 right now. Any discount we received after his missed cut last week has evaporated following an opening-round 4-under 67.

Further down the list, I don’t dislike Adam Hadwin, who’s playing his first event since last month’s Presidents Cup (120-1); Collin Morikawa (65-1); and my pre-tourney pick, Bryson DeChambeau (70-1), as each currently owns an inflated number due to so many low scores on the early board.

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Round 2 Matchup Pick

Daniel Berger (+105) over Billy Horschel

Just behind Clark on the 18-hole leaderboard is Horschel, who posted a sublime 63 of his own.

I don’t like him to keep it going, though.

First of all, there’s this: Horschel’s last three tournaments have resulted in finishes of 68th-MC-MC. That doesn’t exactly inspire confidence for the next three rounds.

Secondly, and unlike some of those names I mentioned earlier, Horschel posted his low round based mostly on a ridiculously hot putter. He made nearly 200 feet of putts, easily the most in any single round in his career.

And lastly, Berger is a guy I really liked entering the week. He’s played well here before and is trending in the right direction. He didn’t exactly hit the ball great on Thursday, either, but I like him to keep moving in the right direction while Horschel struggles to keep it going.

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