Sam Burns is the outright pick at +3300 with Caesars Sportsbook
Aaron Wise can grab a top 10 at +700 with bet365
Louis Oosthuizen to beat Corey Conners at -118 with BetMGM
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The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale is not really like other golf courses. Sure, it’s got 18 holes, bunkers, water hazards, a lot of green grass and grandstands. But the grandstands on this layout are very different to those elsewhere. Very, very different.
Most tournaments would consider itself doing quite well if it attracted 20,000 people through the gates for one day.
At TPC Scottsdale 20,000 fans surround just ONE HOLE – the par-3 16th. And, back in 2016, ten times that number of people watched Saturday’s action at the tournament – comfortably a record number.
Not surprisingly, the overall effect of this overabundance of people is an excitement level pretty much unmatched anywhere else.
The 16th, in particular, is a raucous hot-spot of noise, name-calling and boisterous cheering for both good shots and bad. It is also an integral part of a closing stretch that provides drama at the end of every lap.
It is preceded by the par-5 15th, followed by the short par-4 17th (with water all the way down the left), and the par-4 18th demands a bold strike from the tee to avoid more water and bunkers. The combination of these four holes offers plenty of birdies and eagles, but also the threat of implosion.
Jon Rahm attended Arizona State University and, as a consequence, he knows this event well.
He finished fifth on debut and has never ended his half dozen visits outside the top 20, but he is yet to improve on that first effort. He is desperate to do so and will be up against it with a strong field that includes a pair of recent two-time winners – Hideki Matsuyama and the defending champion Brooks Koepka.
The last year and a bit has been pretty spectacular for Sam Burns.
The 25-year-old broke his PGA Tour-winning duck in May’s Valspar Championship, added second place a week after, was also second in the WGC St Jude Invitational, and opened the 2021/22 season with another victory in the Sanderson Farms Championship.
In addition to that blistering start to this campaign, he’s added another four top 20s before missing the cut last time out in the Farmers Insurance Open, but I’m willing to let him have that result because he’s rarely played well there. And, if we cast our minds back, we remember that it was this time last year that he was dropping big hints about what was to come, frequently coming close to victory.
That included opening 64-68 to lie fourth at halfway in this event before a third-round 73 tripped him up, but he bounced back with a Sunday 68.
Now a much more confident golfer he can contend again and this time he has the wherewithal to hang around all week.
Take him each way in the outright at +3300 with Caesars Sportsbook, a good price and paying out eight places.
Second pick this week is Aaron Wise, born in South Africa but representing the United States.
He closed 2021 in a really nice stretch of form, landing seven top 30s in a row before the Christmas break and frequently contending as he did so.
In fact, in five of those events he ended at least two mid-tournament rounds in the top 10 on the leaderboard.
He opened the year, like Burns, with a missed cut at Torrey Pines, but he opened with a 67 (that had him in the top 10 again) before struggling on the tricky South Course.
This week’s test asks questions of driving and approach work, and Wise ranks top 50 for both of those Strokes Gained categories – as he did so last season as well.
He also stroked a smooth 65 in this event last year.
Take him to make the top 10 with bet365 offering +700.
BetMGM have matched South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen with Canada’s Corey Conners this week and the former looks well worth backing.
The first reason is rather straightforward.
In the head-to-head counts, Oosthuizen leads Conners 32-17 in their careers. His advantage is 17-12 since the start of 2020. And a dominant 10-4 since January 2021.
Oosthuizen also has a brilliant course record that reads: third in 2017 and T11th in 2021. Conners has also played twice, finishing T45th in 2020 and T17th last year.
But here is the crucial element: the South African is brilliant out of the blocks after the winter break. In fact, since 2009 his record in that opening appearance for the year reads 13 starts, nine top 10 finishes, four wins.
Add that sort of form and his affinity for the course to his dominance over Conners and he looks the man to back.
He’s worth supporting at -118 with BetMGM.
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|Phoenix Open Information|
|Tournament||The Waste Management Phoenix Open|
|Location||Stadium Course, TPC Scottsdale, Arizona|
|Time||Thursday February 10 – Sunday February 13|
|How to watch||Thursday & Friday 3pm & 8pm ET (Golf Channel), Saturday 1pm & 7.30pm ET (Golf Channel) & Sunday 1pm & 6.30pm ET (Golf Channel). And all four days on Sky Sports.|
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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