Saturday, March 25, 2023

PREVIEW: 2023 PGA Tour – Phoenix Open |

The Contenders

Arizona State University graduate Jon Rahm will be looking to bounce back after faltering in the final round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rory McIlroy held off Patrick Reed to claim the Dubai Desert Classic last time out. He will be desperate to extend the gap between him and World No.2 Rahm.

Defending champion Scottie Scheffler has gone slightly off the boil of late. He will be hoping to reinvigorate his form with a return to this raucous venue.

Elsewhere, the likes of Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa have been trending nicely. This is really looking to be a special week. It has the feel of a Major Championship, with 18 of the world’s top 20 in contention this week.

Past Winners

2022: Scottie Scheffler (-16) *playoff
2021: Brooks Koepka (-19)
2020: Webb Simpson (-17) *playoff
2019: Rickie Fowler (-17)
2018: Gary Woodland (-18) *playoff
2017: Hideki Matsuyama (-17) *playoff

To Win Outright:

Jon Rahm (8/1), Rory McIlroy (8/1), Scottie Scheffler (14/1), Xander Schauffele (16/1), Patrick Cantlay (20/1)

Value Bets

Sahith Theegala- To Win 45/1 | To Place 19/2

Sahith Theegala is just a player who perfectly suits the risk-reward nature of this event. In reality, he should have won this event a year ago. He led after rounds two and three. He led coming into the 71st hole of the tournament. But he found the water hazard and his chance slipped away. He also should have won the Travelers later in the season. He finished fifth last time out at Torrey Pines and I love him at 45/1 this week.

Rickie Fowler- To Win 66/1 | To Place 14/1

This is one of those proverbial ‘horses for courses’ picks. Rickie Fowler is an absolute fixture at TPC Scottsdale. He won here in 2019 and finished runner-up on two further occasions. Fowler showed signs of marked improvement towards the end of last season. He was sixth at the Fortinet Championship before finishing runner-up to Keegan Bradley at the ZOZO Championship. He then took a long winter break to prepare for 2023. He finished 11th in his last event at Torrey Pines (an event where he missed the cut in six of his previous nine starts). He is certainly trending upwards. He currently ranks in the top 20 for Total Driving and top 10 for Ball Striking.

The Man to Beat- Tony Finau- To Win 20/1 | To Place 44/10

This is one of those rare weeks where you are going to get the red-hot Tony Finau at 20/1. A regular to TPC Scottsdale, Finau lost in a playoff to Webb Simpson in 2020. He is already a winner this season (he picked up a victory at the Houston Open). And his form is trending nicely going into this week. He had a T7 at the Sentry Tournament of Champions before a T16 at the American Express. He then had a top 10 at the Farmers Insurance Open. We all know how accomplished he is from tee-to-green. But he actually currently sits inside the top 10 for Strokes Gained Putting and Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green. I think he has what it takes to go head-to-head with the likes of Rahm and McIlroy. And at a far more appetizing price.

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