The PGA Tour moves inland from California to the desert and the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona. While the setting may have changed, the weather we saw at Pebble Beach might not. The forecast shows Scottsdale will be unseasonably cold, below 60 degrees, with rain on Thursday and Saturday. The forecast for Sunday looks more inviting, with a little bit of a warm-up and clear skies, so we won’t have another rain-shortened tournament.
With the cooler weather and softer conditions keeping shorter players from gaining their usual rollout on the fairways, I will be weighing driving distance a bit more than usual for the WM Phoenix Open. The withdrawal of Xander Schauffele and Viktor Hovland threw off my initial research into the top of the field, but once I realized I didn’t have to be disappointed by Schauffele once again in the desert, I quickly relaxed. Justin Thomas and his current form came more into focus and the chances of Scottie Scheffler winning here three years in a row got a lot better.
Players have overcome putting issues to win and contend here regularly, so I wouldn’t be too concerned with a player struggling on the greens. My model will be focused on strokes gained approach, a little bit on strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained at TPC Scottsdale, strokes gained on shots from 250 to 275 yards on approach, and a little bit on strokes gained around the green. The greens are large and the 72 bunkers that are perfectly laid out around TPC Scottsdale make it hard to get the ball close when trying to scramble. The back 9 at the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale is a must-watch TV even with the Super Bowl butting right up against the finish to the tournament. The 11th hole is extremely difficult off the tee and can lead to big numbers, just as players try to make their run at a win.
Course: TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Course
Designed by: Jay Morrish, Phil Smith, Tom Weiskopf
Most recent winners: 2023 | Scott Scheffler (-19), 2022 | Scottie Scheffler (-16), 2021 | Brooks Koepka (-19), 2020 | Webb Simpson (-17), 2019 | Rickie Fowler ( -17)
Greens: Average 7069 square feet
All odds from BetMGM.
Justin Thomas +1000 Since September, Thomas has finished no worse than a T6 at the rain-shortened AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. He has finished third twice and fourth once at the Phoenix Open since 2019. Thomas’ prior success at TPC Scottsdale is important this week as course history is factoring into my model a little heavier than usual. He struggled with his putter at Pebble Beach.
Byeong-Hun An +3300 was known as a desert specialist before he was forced to regain his PGA Tour card on the Korn Ferry Tour. He was the leader here after three rounds in 2020 before falling back to a ninth-place finish. An has started the 2024 campaign strong with a fourth-place finish at The Sentry and a T2 at the Sony Open. I’m giving him a bit of a break after he looked a little rusty from tee to green at Pebble Beach.
Sahith Theegala +4000 finished third here in 2022 in spectacular fashion and followed that up with a solid top 40 showing last year. Theegala always has a little volatility baked into his pricing because it is rare that every facet of his game is hitting. He finds ways to score and seems to embrace the craziness of the crowds at the Phoenix Open. He struggled with his approach play at the Farmers Insurance Open, losing more than 2 strokes to the field, but bounced back at Pebble Beach, gaining over a stroke on the field.
Adam Scott +5500 hasn’t missed a cut since September and has five top 10 finishes worldwide. He has returned to being a lights-out ball striker which was his bread and butter for a long time on the PGA Tour. He gained more than 2.5 strokes on approach at Pebble Beach and will look to keep up the pace this week at TPC Scottsdale.
Kurt Kitayama +10000 has three straight top-40 finishes and finished T23 here last year. He has gained strokes on approach in five straight measured tournaments. He is driving the ball well, too, as he has gained strokes off the tee in three straight. The main issue for Kitayama has been his balky putter. He has lost strokes on the green in 10 straight measured tournaments. He gained strokes with his putter here in 2023 and gained strokes for three straight tournaments after finding his groove at TPC Scottsdale.
Scottie Scheffler $11,600 is trying to become the first PGA Tour member to win the same tournament three times in a row since Steve Stricker won the John Deere Classic from 2009 to 2011. Scheffler is the current poster boy for struggles with the putter but seems to always find his groove here. He finished as a positive with the putter at Pebble Beach but lost over 1.7 strokes on the greens on Saturday. With Schauffele withdrawing from the tournament, a lot of attention will be put on Scheffler and Thomas at the top of the field when building a team.
Justin Thomas $10,000 See above.
Sam Burns $9,600 finished T6 here last year alongside Jordan Spieth. He is coming in this week in excellent current form. He has two straight top 10 finishes and hasn’t shot a round in the 70s in 2024. The $9,000 range is loaded, but I think Burns has the highest upside and potential to be one of the lowest owned.
Sahith Theegala’s $9,100 is a little high for me this week, even though I do like him in a few betting scenarios. I’m having difficulty going above the $8,000 range to Theegala when I can take Poston, An or Min Woo Lee for less of my budget.
J.T. Poston $8,900 has five top seven finishes since the Open Championship in July. It is tough to argue with his current form and he has some decent finishes on his resume here with three top 26 finishes here since 2019.
Byeong-Hun An $8,800 See above.
Min Woo Lee $8,700 is priced too low to ignore this week despite not having any course history. He’s driving the ball extremely well, having gained over 2.1 strokes off the tee in his first two PGA Tour tournaments of 2024.
Eric Cole $8,500 continues to be right at the top of my models week after week because of his incredible strokes gained on approach numbers. He gained almost 4.5 strokes on approach at Pebble Beach in two measured rounds.
Adam Scott $8,300 See above.
Corey Conners $8,100 has to be on team no-putt if that’s how we are building our lineups this week. He’s been okay in the desert over the last few years, but he hasn’t really contended. He has four straight made cuts, with his best finish a 17th in 2020. He’s in the mix for me at this price range, but Si Woo Kim and Beau Hossler have a bit more upside with how they are hitting it.
Beau Hossler $8,000 continued his strong start to 2024 with a top 15 at Pebble Beach during the rain-shortened event. He has five top 15 finishes in his last six events. He finished 14th here last year, and it will be a tough choice between Hossler and Adam Hadwin at $8,000 because of Hadwin’s course history here.
Alex Noren’s $7,900 has been solid in 2024, but he hasn’t put it all together the way he did when he had two top three finishes in the fall. He has had some success here as evidenced by his sixth-place finish in 2022, but big numbers can wreck his round in a hurry. I’m going to sprinkle him in a pivot at this price point.
Si Woo Kim $7,900 has gained strokes on approach in four straight tournaments and he has gained strokes off the tee in 10 straight tournaments. He is controlling the ball from tee to green among the best on the PGA Tour right now. On the greens he has struggled, but not to the point that he did in July and August of 2023 where he was hemorrhaging strokes with his putter.
Shane Lowry $7,700 missed the cut here last year but is priced too low for the type of ball striker he is. He had a T25 his last time out at the Farmers Insurance that included an albatross. Hopefully, he can ride those vibes this week and pay off his low price.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout $7,400 missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open after finishing solo second at The American Express. He ended up collecting the winner’s share of the purse because amateur Nick Dunlap won, which could have led to a bit of a celebratory hangover. He has been great since the Joburg Open in November.
Mark Hubbard $7,400 was one of my low-priced options at Pebble Beach because of his excellent ball-striking form. He’s trending in the right direction with four straight made cuts and two straight top-20 finishes, but this is a tough price to pay for Hubbard. I’m going to reach down and play Kitayama a lot more than going back to Hubbard this week.
Kurt Kitayama $7,200 See above.
Aaron Rai $7,100 has gained on approach in five out of his last six tournaments, and he has gained strokes off the tee in six straight measured tournaments. His putter has let him down when he was in a position to contend lately
Billy Horschel $7,100 played well in Europe in the fall but hasn’t been able to replicate that form in 2024. He had a decent showing at the Sony Open and has an excellent course history here, so he will be in my lineups, but I’m a little scared to pull the trigger on him.
Jake Knapp $6,900 broke through for a top three finish at the Farmers Insurance Open after gaining more than 6.3 strokes ball striking for the week. He has gained strokes off the tee in three straight since graduating from the Korn Ferry Tour and looks to have the skills needed to compete at TPC Scottsdale.
Alexander Björk $6,900 makes it into the field after a few WDs and his approach game feels like a perfect fit for TPC Scottsdale. He struggled to build on his T11 at The American Express as he finished T70 at the Farmers Insurance Open. He gained over 1.8 strokes on approach in each of those tournaments. I’m worried about how he is hitting it off the tee as he has lost over two strokes off the tee in three straight measured tournaments.
Scott Stallings $6,700 has gained 1.8 or more strokes on approach in three straight tournaments. He has three straight made cuts here with two straight top 25 finishes. He obviously likes the course and the environment.
Bud Cauley $6,000 is back on the big stage after years of surgeries and procedures all stemming from a car accident in 2018. He hasn’t played on the PGA Tour since a top 15 showing at the 2020 Fortinet Championship. The Alabama alum is one of the players on the PGA Tour I would line up to watch hit his irons during practice. The sound the ball made and his control on the trajectory all pointed to future stardom. He knocked some rust off with two starts on the Korn Ferry Tour where he made the cut and got used to having his body recover. The cold temperature and rain might be a little tough to overcome this week, but I will throw him on a team or two in GPPs.
One and Done
Each week, we will pick in reverse order of the standings and we can’t duplicate picks in the same week. Spreadsheet tracking who we have used can be found here.
Dennis Esser: $498,650 (3 of 3 made cuts)
Brody Miller: $471,280.83 (3 of 3 made cuts)
Hugh Kellenberger: $465,141.80 (3 of 3 made cuts)
Kellenberger: The home game models love Max Homa here, a native Californian who moved out to the desert a few years ago. And while Homa comes in off a smooth T66 at Pebble Beach, I still like his game here and think he has good value in a non-signature event field.
Miller: We’re officially at the point where we have enough data to say Ben An is just really good and one of the 30 or so best players on tour. He made it to Chicago last year in the playoffs and started this year by finishing 4 and T2 at the Sentry and Sony, respectively. One could argue he’s actively a top-five player in this Phoenix field. Approach is king at Scottsdale, and while that isn’t his No. 1 strength, An is still an above average iron player. Give me Ben.
Dennis Esser: A big swing and a miss with Jordan Spieth last week at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am will hurt me in the long run this year. I need to bounce back this week, but I couldn’t take my original pick in Byeong-Hun An as my colleague already jumped on that ship. I was tempted to take Justin Thomas, but I’m saving him for later this year. I’m going to take Sahith Theegala in this one and done and take An in all of my other ones.
(Photo of Justin Thomas: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images)