Eat The Chalk or Make The Pivot, Pheonix Open

The four major championships along with the Players Championship are typically the most anticipated tournaments of the year. Many will say right after those tournaments the one they look forward to the most is the Waste Management Open. The crowds are large and typically out of control loud and raucous. Due to those reasons this tournament is different than any other, including majors. On top of all that we have an elevated event bringing in a tremendous field. Only one of the T40 in the world is missing with the majority of the T75 playing who are eligible. This is easily the toughest field we have seen all year and will provide us with preview of what to expect pricing and ownership wise for the remainder of the strong field events. The host course is the TPC Scottsdale playing at 7,250 yards as a par 71. The back 9 is we’re the excitement happens. The last four holes brings risk and reward shots either making or breaking a players round. The turf is wall to wall bermuda over seeded with fescue and rye. The rough isn’t to penal at 2.5” while the greens will be larger than average and fairly fast. This is a tournament played on one course with a cut after round two. The winning score is typically in the mid to upper teens while the tournament is usually won by a named player with odds at 50/1 or less. So let’s take a look at who we can target.

10K Price Range
No doubt Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy will be the most popular in this range. Both are playing exceptional golf consistently finishing inside the T5 with wins on their resume. If you wish to fade perhaps your playing the course history card and or the depth of the field. Rahm has played here 7 times with 16th being his worse and 5th best. Rory just once finishing 13th. What I want to know most about the two is will they be 25% owned or closer to the higher teens. If both come in at around 25% that should provide solid leverage with other players in this range. Regardless, I will have around the field average for both.

Scottie Schefler is the defending champ while Xander Schauffele has never finished worse than 17th in five trips around. Xander has finished 2nd and 3rd the last two years and enters in fine form. Both should be pivots off the two aforementioned players while Scottie is a pivot of Xander. We all know tough decisions need to be made and currently I lam leaning Xander who I see coming in around 15%. I prefer Xander sue to the better tee to green game and more consistent putter. This leaves us with Tony Finau who will likely be the lowest owned in this range. His form is solid but his course history isn’t the best at all. In fact if you look at Tony’s TPC history he struggles at these courses more than not. I think it’s feasible to play three players in this range and it’s the chalk I intend on eating.

9K Price Range
This section is absolutely loaded! To be honest the decisions on who to play is tougher than the prior range. Since I am going with three above I would say four is the most I can go here. Unless someone talks me into these players I will be passing on Max Homa, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland and Hideki Matsuyama. Nothing against any of the four and I can’t blame anyone for taking shots on any of them. Of the four I do expect Hovland to garner the ownership. This leaves me with five players needing only four. Currently looking on the outside would be Justin Thomas. His form isn’t great when comparing to his peers but his history here has been solid. I am hoping that recent form tanks his ownership and I can fit some shares in my player pool.

My favorite in this section is Collin Morikawa. His play has been very good and his tee to green game fits this course. His putting has improved and we have seen bad/inconsistent putters play very good here. Of the players 9.5k and above I do believe he is the most popular. Just how much I am not sure as ownership in this range should be spread out with all the options. Not to mention many will start with 10k players. I know I want some Patrick Cantlay as his game sets up very well for the course. He hasn’t played here much but did finish 2nd last year. Perhaps his recent form pulls some ownership off but the price tag is one I can see people moving toward. I can see the ownership for Morikawa and Cantlay around 13-15%.

On the bottom end I like Sungjae Im and Tom Kim. Again it’s the tee to green game that makes me like both. Im is 3/3 on cuts here with one T10 while Tom is making his debut. I also feel the personality for Kim sets up great for this tournament and will only help him. I expect Hovland to pull ownership from both and see Sungjae garnering more than Tom. This possibly could be a week we get a low owned Tom Kim because I am sure some will favor a player in the next range over him.

8K Price Range
Overall I am not impressed with the players within this price section. As the week progresses that could change. I think many will have the same thoughts as me initially which could lead to some lower owned players. I do expect Cam Young to be the chalk and I will have some interest. In case you haven’t noticed I am targeting the players who are shining tee to green and that’s Young’s game. After Young my only other initial interest in Taylor Montgomery. I do have some concerns though. He doesn’t have that tee to green game and this will be the strongest field he has competed in.

I feel I can be talked off Montgomery into one of Sam Burns, Tyrell Hatton, Shane Lowry or Tommy Fleetwood. Of the four Burns and Lowry are the most intriguing. Off the tee could be the issue for both but they have the iron game to make up for it. This is a range I will be putting more research into as the week passes.

7K Price Range
In the upper tier no doubt that Tom Hoge is going to be the go to guy. His price is so much cheaper than what we have been paying. The results haven’t been great and I will gladly pass. My eye currently is on Keegan Bradley. Great ball striker who will find the fairways. Has solid course history and his form is solid. Bradley should draw some ownership and a pivot off he and Hoge is Corey Connors. Keegan and Connors are basically the same player. Corey hasn’t been great recently but his skill set could easily pop at this set up. The last player who I may pull the trigger on is Aaron Wise. Just seems he burns me more than not. His putting has improved but something tells me his tee to green game may be slightly behind others.

On the lower side we have so many options and I don’t see one player attracting everyone’s attention. Possibly Andrew Putnam gains some steam along with Denny McCarthy. I do think I am headed back to JJ Spaun. When I look at this group of players I feel his tee to green game, especially his ball striking is much better than anyone else currently. The other player I want to look at more is Lucas Herbert. He has played some good golf in the desert and it feels like he is getting close to taking that next step.

That will do it for the Pheonix Open. Enjoy the great weekend of golf from a wild tournament along with the NFL on Sunday. Let’s match the green we will see this week on and around the course with those screens and Run Pure!


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