Starts - 4th February 2021
Course - TPC Scottsdale
Length – 7,261 yards
2020 Champion: Webb Simpson
Overall Profit/Loss: +52pts
Pre-Event Bets: +59.5pts
1ptEW Brooks Koepka (1/5 1-8) - 40/1 @ William Hill
0.5ptsEW Adam Hadwin (1/5 1-8) - 80/1 @ William Hill
0.5ptsEW Luke List (1/5 1-7) - 125/1 @ Betfred
0.5pts EW Wyndham Clark (1/5 1-8) - 150/1 @ William Hill
0.5ptsEW Tom Lewis (1/5 1-8) - 200/1 @ William Hill
1pt James Hahn Top 20 Finish - 13/2 @ Bet365
1pt Matthew Nesmith Top 20 Finish - 9/1 @ Betfair
In-Play Bets: -7.5pts
5 February 2021 (-3.5pts)
0.75ptsEW Ted Potter Jr (1/5 1-6) - 125/1 @ Boylesports
0.5ptsEW Michael Kim (1/5 1-6) - 250/1 @ Boylesports
0.5pts EW Nick Hardy (1/5 1-5) - 300/1 @ 10bet
6 February 2021 (-2pts)
1ptEW Nick Lashley (1/5 1-4) - 66/1 @ Bet365
7 February 2021 (-2pts)
1ptJustin Thomas Win Only - 11/1 @ Bet365
1ptScottie Scheffler Win Only - 12/1 @ Bet365
High Quality Leaderboard
Once again, leaderboard was packed with big names. Even Jordan Spieth made a return to form following almost a year without a top 10.
Very little in 2021.
The Cream will rise
None of the top 5 after round one were in the top 5 after round 3. The top players tend to come through just like in 2020. Take on the round one leaders.
Course Designer - Tom Weiskopf
Tournament played here since - 1987
Type of Course - Desert
Fairways - Generous, Bermuda Grass
Rough - Bermuda
Greens - TifEagle Bermuda, 12 on the Stimp
Water Hazards - In play on 6 holes
Par 5's - (3rd, 13th and 15th)
Premium on - Approach play
Significant Info To Be Aware Of
This event is normally a raucous affair with the infamous 16th known as the loudest hole in golf. Over 100,000 fans pass through the gates on a daily basis but this year fans are restricted to only 5,000, so we'll see a very toned down version. This event is traditionally won by those who can handle the rowdy atmosphere so it'll be interesting to see how the lack of fans changes things. It may be that an outsider is able to win an event not normally known for long odds winners.
Be aware there there has been considerable rain in the Scottsdale area in recent weeks so the course will likely play softer than normal. The rough is slightly thicker as a result.
Continue to exercise caution in relation to Covid-19 related withdrawals.
Has ranged from -14 to -18 over the past six years.
Price of Winner
We've not had a winner starting at over 50/1 since 2014 when Kevin Stadler took the title.
Look for strong performances at other desert events.
Brooks Koepka won on his debut in 2015, but the following five champions each recorded a top 5 finish prior to winning. Side with strong course experience.
You don't need to be in blistering form to win. Although three of the past five champions have recorded a prior top 12 finish, Gary Woodland and Hideki Matsuyama won in 2018 and 2016 following poor starts to the season.
Of the last 13 champions, only Hideki Matsuyama's wins in 2017 and 2018 prevents it from being a clean sweep of Americans.
We are looking for a player with high SG: Approach.
SG: Off The Tee
The last four winners have ranked 26th, 3rd, 20th and 13th. Strong driving is preferred.
Three of the past four winners have ranked inside the top 3. Approach play is key.
SG: Around The Green
The best ranking of any of the past four winners is 39th.
We've seen varied putting performances from the winners over the past four years. Rankings of 15th, 1st, 23rd and 59th show us you don't have to putt the lights out.
The 14th and 11th play as two difficult par 4s.
The three par 5's (3rd, 13th and 15th) are all very scoreable. The scoring stretch is undoubtedly the 13th to 18th.
The 16th is a challenging par 3 with fans heckling and booing poor shots. The 17th is a driveable par 4, and the par 4 18th is also a birdie opportunity with a good drive.
Fast or Slow Start
Webb Simpson was 10 shots behind after an opening 71 last year. However, that's very much the exception to the rule. Of the past five events, Webb was the only winner who opened with a score of worse than 67, and also the only winner who was further back than three shots after round one.
1pt EW (1/5 1-8) Brooks Koepka 40/1 @ William Hill
There's no debating the fact Brooks has been poor so far this year. However, a return to the site of his first PGA Tour win may be just the tonic he needs to get things back on track. Soft conditions will suit him and it's a course where he enjoys the greens. When questioned at The American Express about what would constitute a successful year, it was interesting he said “a couple wins and a couple Majors.” He hasn't always been the most backable player outside the Majors but it's been 18 months since his last win and there will be no doubt he'll be trying this week. A return to winning ways at the site of his first PGA Tour win would be a fitting narrative.
0.5pts EW (1/5 1-8) Adam Hadwin 100/1 @ William Hill
Adam has a solid if unspectacular record at this event, having made the cut on his last five starts here and had a couple of top 20 finishes. He's trending in the right direction, placing 32nd and 18th the past two weeks. He also has an excellent record in desert events in general, having recorded multiple top 5 finishes at The American Express (as it is now) and the Shriners Hospitals event. He hasn't won since 2017 but he's more than capable of winning again.
0.5pts EW (1/5 1-7) Luke List 125/1 @ Betfred
Luke has recorded finishes of 25th and 26th here over the past three years. He's in great form at the moment with finishes of 21st and 10th the past two weeks. He was long and straight off the tee last week and 15th SG: Approach. With the rain they've had recently, Luke will be firing at pins and creating plenty of birdie chances. It wasn't that long ago Luke was a top 50 player in the world. If he keeps playing as he has been he'll find himself back there soon.
0.5pts EW (1/5 1-8) Wyndham Clark 150/1 @ William Hill
Wyndham started this tournament in blistering fashion last year, opening with his lowest round on the PGA Tour (61). The pressure was too much for him and he faded away over the weekend to a 34th place finish. However, the tournament will have a much less raucous atmosphere this year and players like Wyndham will have a chance. He ranked 8th SG:Off The Tee last week at Farmers and grew up playing at altitude. His performance in Bermuda towards the end of last year shows us he is now better equipped to deal with pressure, should he find himself in contention.
0.5pts EW (1/5 1-8) Tom Lewis 200/1 @ William Hill
Sometimes there's a price that just stands out and Tom is that price this week. He's a past winner on the Korn Ferry Tour and a 2nd place finish at the WGC FedEx last high highlighted his quality. He ranks 72nd in the world and put in a solid showing last week. A 42nd place finish at the Farmers was supported by his stats where he ranked 30th SG: Tee to Green. His only negative is that he is making his course debut. However, we're not concerned as he absolutely adores desert golf. His record back on the European Tour in Dubai and Abu Dhabi is excellent, having recorded multiple top 10 in high quality fields. Given the price, he's more than worth the risk.
1pt James Hahn Top 20 Finish 13/2 @ Bet365
James missed the cut last week at the Farmers but we're willing to overlook than given he has a terrible record in that event (never placed better than 40th). He played really nicely the week before at The American Express, a desert event like this. He ranked 22nd SG: Off the Tee that week and that kind of driving should set him up well on a course where he already has three top 20 finishes in previous visits. Four top 20s from 14 starts last year and odds of 13/2 are worth taking.
1pt Matt NeSmith Top 20 Finish 9/1 @ Betfair
Matt is making his debut at this event but there's a few reason's to back him to make a top 20 finish. His best ever finish on the PGA Tour came at a desert event, the Shriners Hospitals For Children open. He also has several other top 20 finishes at desert events in his short time on tour (he only got his card Autumn 2019). He ranked 2nd last week for SG: Approach and signed off with a final round 69 to give him some momentum going into this week. Matt recorded six top 20 finishes from 22 starts last year, odds of 9/1 this week are to be taken.
From 2021, the annual subscription for our tips will be £249 and we are delighted to be partnering with Premier Sports Plays (www.premiersportsplays.com) to bring you this service.
We will be in full charge of the Telegram group and Premier Sports Plays will handle the payments and administrative functions, allowing us to focus on the golf.
You can sign up by clicking the button below.
7 February 10.45
|K H Lee||-15|
In a round that was reminiscent of his glory years, Jordan Spieth fired a sensational 61 to hold a share of the lead going into the final day. It may have started with routine pars at the first and last, but he certainly packed the usual Spieth drama into the other 16 holes. Remarkable recovery shots (from wild drives), consecutive 35ft birdie putts, a missed 4ft eagle putt and a chip in were only some of the highlights of a round that could easily have broken 60. It was a performance we haven't seen in a long while from Jordan and certainly begs the question: is he back?
We'd all like to see Spieth find his game again - he undoubtedly makes great viewing. However, there are a couple of factors which suggest we're unlikely to see him win. He's been out of contention for a long time now and was poor the last time he was in and around the lead (2020 Charles Schwab Challenge). His iron play yesterday was sensational, and although not impossible we are unlikely to see that again today. A solid round from Jordan would be nice to see but there has to be question marks over whether he can win for the first time in three and a half years.
One person who may benefit from the media attention on Jordan is Xander Schauffele. He will go under the radar a little and seek to notch his first win in two years by "hanging in there," a quote he gave yesterday. To do so he'll have to improve on his record when holding a 54 hole lead - he's 0-3 when leading or co-leading. He's been poor in contention in recent times and holds a Golf Betting Club Pressure Performance Rating of 2 ⭐. With best odds of 19/20, we aren't in a rush to back him.
The chasing pack will be hoping for a similar outcome to that of when Spieth and Schauffele last played together. In the final group at the 2018 Open Championship, the pair shot 76 and 74 to let slip any chance of winning. Whilst it would be a surprise to see those kind of scores today, anything over par will not be good enough.
Our pre-event selections remain in a good position after round three. James Hahn (13/2) and Matt NeSmith (9/1) were advised pre-tournament in the top 20 market and sit 7th and 13th. Of our outright selections, Brooks Koepka birdied five of his final six holes to move into 7th.
Weather conditions today will be much the same as yesterday - sunny with almost no wind to speak of (5mph max).
- 1pt JUSTIN THOMAS 11/1 @ Bet365 (Win Only)
Were it not for 5 dropped shots on two holes this week, JT would be leading going into the final round. A silly triple bogey on day one at the driveable par 4 17th, and a double on his opening hole in round two, have left him playing catch up. However, with doubts over the leaders and with JT trying to get one over his good friend Jordan Spieth, it's not unthinkable he shoots a low round to snatch this. Yesterday's 64 came relatively easily and provided he can keep the silly mistakes off his card he has the firepower to win. His last (2020 WGC FedEx) came from four behind and it's also notable that his other win in 2020 came when trailing Xander Schauffele. Let's hope that's a good omen today.
- 1pt SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER 11/1 @ Bet365 (Win Only)
Scottie has history of winning from off the pace and he's the type of player who is capable of a really low round. His first win on the Korn Ferry Tour came from five back, shooting a closing 63 to win the 2019 Evan Scholars Invitational. He also won from behind at the 2019 Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship. His first win on the PGA Tour is likely to come from off the pace and this is just the sort of tournament where he could breakthrough.
6 February 10.45
Xander Schauffele has moved to the top of the leaderboard in Phoenix and is now 13/8 favourite with the bookmakers. Given the way he has started the season the price is entirely understandable. Top 5 finishes in both starts this year suggest a win is around the corner. However, it's been over two years since Xander won a tournament and he's let slip a number of good opportunities during that time. His record when leading isn't strong (see our Player Profile) and he'll undoubtedly come under pressure today with ideal scoring conditions forecast.
In addition to Xander's personal failures, winners here generally come from behind at halfway. Last year's champion Webb Simpson trailed by four shots after 36 holes, Gary Woodland trailed by three at halfway in 2018, Hideki Matsuyama trailed by 1 in 2017 and 3 in 2016. The 2015 champion, Brooks Koepka, trailed by seven shots!
Our pre-event selections remain in a good position after round two. Both Matt NeSmith (9/1) and James Hahn (13/2) were advised pre-tournament in the top 20 market and are tied 8th. Of our outright selections, Brooks Koepka is moving into contention and lurks in 8th place.
Weather conditions today will be much the same as yesterday - sunny with almost no wind to speak of (5mph max)
- 1pt Each Way Nate Lashley 66/1 @ BET365 (1/5 1,2,3,4)
Nate had a really sloppy finish to his round yesterday, finishing with two bogeys. However, that's pushed his price out to 66/1 and he's worth a bet. He resides in Scottsdale and practices on the course so is extremely comfortable here. This was evidenced by his 3rd place last year, when he said he wasn't particularly happy with his game but managed his way around. A 3rd place finish on the PGA Tour is no mean feat when you don't have your best game. We like the fact that Nate's long game appears to be in better shape this time. He ranks 6th for SG: Approach and his driving was good on day one (even if it wasn't so great yesterday). A winner on the PGA Tour in 2019, Nate can challenge this weekend.
5 February 02.00
It was an unusual day at the Phoenix Open as the favourites struggled and the leaderboard is stacked with players who started at huge odds. Pre-tournament favourites such as Webb Simpson, Sungjae Im, Harris English, Rickie Fowler and Gary Woodland all find themselves over par and in danger of missing the cut. Even the favourites who did manage to break par found themselves making uncharacteristic errors. Rory McIlroy played his first two holes in +3, Justin Thomas made a triple bogey 7 at the driveable 17th and Jon Rahm disappointed bogey free backers by making a careless bogey at his final hole.
It may have been the top players struggled to adjust to having fans back. Justin Thomas twice backed off a shot on the 18th tee when fans disturbed him. Whatever it was, only Xander Schauffele was able to break into the top 10 from the players who were chalked up at 50/1 or less pre-tournament. As a result, he now finds himself 4/1 favourite.
Despite similar conditions, the morning wave scored far better than the afternoon starters. Only Steve Stricker managed to get to -6 out of the afternoon players and those players will need to make up ground with an early tee time tomorrow.
Our pre-event subscribers are in a good position after Matt NeSmith (9/1) and James Hahn (13/2) were advised pre-tournament in the top 20 market. Both are comfortably inside the top 20 after round one and hopefully their fine play continues. We also have several players in the outright market inside the top 25.
As we mentioned in our Preview, winners here have generally found themselves no more than three shots off the lead after the first round. Webb Simpson won last year after an opening round of 71 but this was very much the exception to the rule.
Weather conditions today will be much the same as yesterday, sunny with almost no wind to speak of until very late afternoon when the wind will pick up to around 8mph.
- 0.75pts Each Way TED POTTER JR 125/1 @ Boylesports (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)
It's easy to forget that Ted is a two time PGA Tour winner, having won in 2018 and 2012. He's about as unpredictable as they come but he's started well this week with a round of -5. We shortlisted him this week after his top 20 finish last week at the Farmers but that finish was largely built on his short game so he was left out. His round today was much the same but he's a player who's capable of stringing three more rounds together and given he's a proven winner, he's worth an investment at three figure odds.
- 0.5pts Each Way MICHAEL KIM 250/1 @ Boylesports (1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6)
Michael was another on our shortlist pre-event and we'd be devastated not to be on him at all, were he to go on and do something this week. Having fallen off a cliff since his comprehensive win at the John Deere Classic in 2018, his stats have been promising the past few events and there's definite signs of life in his game again. He played really nicely in his opening round, shooting -4 in the afternoon and ranking 15th SG: Off The Tee and 4th SG Approach. Let's remember this is a guy who won a PGA Tour event by 8 shots on the back of a run of missed cuts. If he continues to play as he did in round one he's got every chance of being in the mix on Sunday.
- 0.5pts Each Way NICK HARDY 300/1 @ 10Bet (1/5 1,2,3,4,5)
Nick, who Monday qualified for this tournament by holing a clutch 12ft birdie putt, had a solid year on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020, recording five top 10 finishes in 22 starts. A 14th place finish in his last start at the Sony Open was encouraging and his play during round one here was equally impressive. A player with a lot of heart, he has stated he believes he can break into the top 50 in the world in the coming years. A three under par round where he was inside the top 25 for SG: Approach and SG: Off The Tee was a good start and there's every reason to think he can snatch an each way place or more this week.