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DraftKings PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf Preview: Waste Management Phoenix Open Course History vs. Current Form

Zach Thompson takes a look at golfers with the best course history and current form ahead of the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

The PGA TOUR heads to the desert for this year’s stop at TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The tournament and even the course are most notable and memorable due to the huge crowds of raucous fans that come to the site each year. Like everything else, the tournament will be very different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there will be limited fans, a great course and an elite field for this annual event.

Each week this season, I’ll take a look at two of the key factors to consider when building DraftKings lineups. We’ll take a look at players who have a good history at the specific course being played (or similar courses if it’s a new venue), and we’ll also take a look at some of the golfers coming in with the best recent results.

Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $750K Flop Shot [$250K to 1st]

Course History

Although the original event dates all the way back to the 1930s, the modern era of the Phoenix Open has been a source of stability. Since 1973, the Phoenix Open has been held the same week as the NFL’s Big Game, and the tournament has been held at this same track every year since 1987. The course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and is known for fan attendance and involvement as well as its picturesque desert setting. Here’s a look at some players who have had recent success here:

Course History

Player Name Salary 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Player Name Salary 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Jon Rahm $11,200 -- 26 22 20 9
Justin Thomas $10,800 86 77 27 3 3
Xander Schauffele $11,000 -- -- 17 10 16
Webb Simpson $10,100 14 2 87 20 1
Daniel Berger $9,600 58 7 11 75 9
Hideki Matsuyama $9,800 1 1 -- 15 16
Bubba Watson $8,500 14 92 40 4 3
Rickie Fowler $8,600 2 4 11 1 37
Gary Woodland $8,300 33 101 1 7 40
Matt Kuchar $7,700 -- 9 5 4 16
Byeong Hun An $7,300 -- 6 23 20 9
Russell Knox $7,200 -- 107 76 10 16
James Hahn $6,800 17 107 11 67 25
J.B. Holmes $6,400 6 24 102 26 16

The most notable hole on the course is definitely the par-3 16th hole known as “The Coliseum.” It’s typically the only fully enclosed hole on the PGA TOUR, and the surrounding grandstands hold 20,000 fans. This year, though, there will only be 5,000 fans allowed in attendance, which is a stark contrast to the single-day attendance record set by the event with 201,003 fans in 2016. That year was the first of two career wins for Hideki Matsuyama ($9,800), who joins J.B. Holmes ($6,400) as players in the field with multiple wins at this venue.

The course typically requires elite iron play and three of the last four winners here gained seven or more strokes on their approach shots. Scoring on par 5s is also critical since all three of the par 5s are fairly reachable and create great risk-reward options for players throughout the week. Hole No. 17 is also a great risk-reward hole as a drivable par-4 immediately following the excitement of a trip to the Coliseum.

Several of the players with five-figure salaries have great track records here led by Jon Rahm ($11,200), Justin Thomas ($10,800) and Webb Simpson ($10,100). There’s also a solid midrange group with good history here led by Bubba Watson ($8,500) and Rickie Fowler ($8,600). Watson crashed out of the Farmers Insurance Open with a 77 on Friday but did have some success in the fall, including a pair of top-10 finishes at the ZOZO Championship and The CJ Cup. He still ranks in the top-10 on the PGA TOUR this season in SG: Approach, and he could contend again this week if he stays dialed in and can turn his putter around. Watson has gained 2.207 strokes per round tee-to-green this season but lost .710 shots per round to the field putting.

If you’re looking to go cheap, there are four players highlighted above under $7,500 including Holmes, who comes in with missed cuts in two of his four events this season and no momentum, but a great course history. Byeong Hun An ($7,300) also appears to be a nice value option with four top-25 finishes here in the past four seasons. He finished in the top 10 in his return from the holiday break at The American Express, but he had a rough weekend at Torrey Pines to come to this event a little off the radar after a T75.

Current Form

The West Coast swing has featured the return of some of the bigger names on the PGA TOUR and we’re starting to have a solid picture of who’s in form and who needs to turn things around. Here are some notable results for the final four events last fall and the four events so far in 2021:

Current Form

Player Name Salary Houston Open The Masters RSM Classic Mayakoba Sentry TOC Sony Open The American Express Farmers Insurance Open
Player Name Salary Houston Open The Masters RSM Classic Mayakoba Sentry TOC Sony Open The American Express Farmers Insurance Open
Xander Schauffele $11,000 -- 17 -- -- 5 -- -- 2
Webb Simpson $10,100 -- 10 37 -- 17 4 -- --
Hideki Matsuyama $9,800 2 13 -- -- 41 19 -- 53
Sungjae Im $9,400 50 2 CUT -- 5 56 12 32
Harris English $9,300 -- -- 6 5 1 32 -- CUT
Ryan Palmer $9,200 -- -- -- -- 4 41 -- 2
Max Homa $7,900 48 CUT -- 12 -- -- 21 18
Carlos Ortiz $7,800 1 -- -- 8 37 14 -- 29
Chris Kirk $7,500 44 -- 18 46 -- 2 16 --
Henrik Norlander $7,500 CUT -- CUT -- -- CUT 12 2
Luke List $7,200 CUT -- CUT CUT -- CUT 21 10
John Huh $7,200 48 -- 12 20 -- -- 21 65
Sepp Straka $7,100 5 -- 44 52 -- 25 CUT 32
Cameron Tringale $6,900 29 -- 3 -- -- -- 56 18
Kyle Stanley $6,700 -- -- 6 46 -- CUT 32 18

Simpson comes to his title defense off a pair of top-20 finishes in Hawaii earlier this season. He hasn’t teed it up yet on the West Coast this season but has made the cut in all seven of his events this season with a trio of top-10 finishes. He definitely has the accuracy the course requires both off the tee and on approach, and he ranks in the top-20 in SG: Putting so far this season as well, picking up .822 shots per round over his 23 measured rounds.

Several of the players in the $9K-to-$10K range are playing well, but most of the players between $8K and $9K in salary have struggled lately or haven’t racked up many recent results at all. There are several intriguing options just under $8K from a recent-form perspective, including rising stars Max Homa ($7,900) and Carlos Ortiz ($7,800). Ortiz actually entered last week’s Final Round with a share of the lead before falling apart and sinking all the way to T29. He continues to be a regular in contention, though, so that’s actually a good sign moving forward for the 29-year-old.

Both Luke List ($7,200) and Henrik Norlander ($7,500) were struggling in the fall, missing multiple cuts, but they have turned things around the past two weeks with strong results. Norlander has dramatically improved his ball-striking over the past two weeks and improved on the par 5s, specifically with -8 on the par 5s at The American Express and -10 last week at the Farmers Insurance Open. List’s approach game was also on-point, as he gained 1.138 shots on approach per round last week.

No player in the field comes in with better short-term form than Sepp Straka ($7,100) who fired a sizzling 65 on Sunday in the Final Round at Torrey Pines. He has been solid so far this season, making 9-of-11 cuts with four top-25 finishes and makes a solid value target this week. Cameron Tringale ($6,900) is always worth a look on the West Coast swing where the big California-native typically puts together strong finishes. His improved iron-play over the past year would also seem to set him up well for TPC Scottsdale.

Another cheap play with intriguing form to check out is Kyle Stanley ($6,700), who gained 1.345 shots per round on approach last week, finishing ninth in SG: Tee-to-Green, 11th in SG: Approach and 20th in SG: Off-the-Tee. If he continues striking the ball so well and can heat up his putter a little bit in the desert, he could end up a solid bargain play on this track, where he won back in 2012 but has missed the cut in each of the past three seasons.

Set your DraftKings fantasy golf lineups here: PGA TOUR $750K Flop Shot [$250K to 1st]

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