It’s going to be quite the sports weekend in Arizona. Not only will Super Bowl LVII go down on Sunday evening at State Farm Stadium, but golf’s rowdiest party begins on Thursday with the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The WMPO is known for its raucous atmosphere, but it’s also become one of the most important tournaments on the schedule and attracts a superstar-laden field. There have been a handful of tournaments already played, including a couple of big ones, but this is the first real headliner, and it shows on the entry list.
Rory McIlroy is the current betting favorite for Waste Management at +800, but it’s really splitting hairs between the Northern Irishman and Jon Rahm at +850. Xander Schauffele, who has back-to-back top-three finishes here, is next at +1400. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler (+1500), Tony Finau (+1800), and Collin Morikawa (+1800) are the only other golfers under +2000.
As with any star-studded field, you can get some tantalizing prices on some big-time players, but you want to tread lightly as this event is normally won by a big name. Here are the winners going back to 2015, with their final scores in parentheses:
- 2022: Scottie Scheffler (-22)
- 2021: Brooks Koepka (-19)
- 2020: Webb Simpson (-17)
- 2019: Rickie Fowler (-17)
- 2018: Gary Woodland (-18)
- 2017: Hideki Matsuyama (-17)
- 2016: Hideki Matsuyama (-14)
- 2015: Brooks Koepka (-15)
Instead of peppering in a few long shots, most of my betting attention will be in the mid-tier, focusing on some players with solid win equity at decent prices.
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Phoenix Open odds, picks, and predictions
Viktor Hovland (+3300, BetMGM)
It’s been a relatively quiet start to 2023 for Hovland compared to some of his peers, but that is why we’re getting him above 30/1 rather than closer to 20/1.
Hovland played in the Sentry Tournament of Champions right out of the gates, but then took a couple of weeks off before finishing T13 in a weak field at Pebble Beach last week. Nothing to be excited about, but also nothing too concerning, either.
So even though Hovland’s name hasn’t popped yet this year and he missed the cut at TPC Scottsdale in 2022, he’s shown he can contend in top-notch fields with top-10 finishes at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, THE PLAYERS and The Open Championship last year.
Sam Burns (+4200, FanDuel)
It’s a bit surprising to see Burns in this range, as the former LSU Tiger has four wins and two runner-ups in the last 22 months. Burns has only played twice in 2023, but he put together an encouraging performance together at the American Express two weeks ago, finishing T11 and posting two rounds of 64.
Burns missed the cut here in 2022, but he finished T22 back in 2021, and his game has progressed a ton since that time.
There just aren’t going to be many times when you can get a player with this kind of resume at this number.
Corey Conners (+8000, BetMGM)
A few weeks ago, Corey Conners was being talked about as a player you wanted to keep an eye on as a potential bet at the Masters, and yet here he is at +8000 for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Why has Conners, who is usually around +5000 or so in fields like this, drifted? Most likely due to inactivity. Conners finished T18 at the Sentry TOC and T12 at the Sony Open in the middle of January, but then didn’t play in any of the California events, which has caused him to go under the radar for this weekend.
Conners has played here three times and has never missed a cut, plus he has a top-20 finish back in 2021.
K.H. Lee (+9500, FanDuel)
A TPC course specialist, Lee is absolutely worth a punt at this range. Not only does he have two career wins on a TPC Course (Craig Ranch), he also was the runner-up at this event two years ago and has now played this event three times, so he’s got plenty of experience with the atmosphere, conditions and course.
Lee is coming off a missed cut at The American Express, but he posted a T7 at the Sentry TOC and finished inside the top 30 at the Sony, so there’s nothing alarming with his current form.