The PGA TOUR stays out west this week for the WM Phoenix Open. Since 1987, the Stadium Course of TPC Scottsdale (par 71, 7,261 yards, Bermuda) has been the lone home of this event and Brooks Koepka is the defending champ, with a winning number of -19 last season. In recent years, bombers have had an edge at this par 71 that features underwhelming rough. Including Koepka, three of the past four players to take home the top prize in Scottsdale have ranked T11 or better in driving distance.
As always, we need to prioritize golfers who are in compelling form with their irons, considering four of the last five Phoenix Open winners have either led their fields or finished runner-up in SG APP. As for what holes we should be focusing on, five of the 11 par 4s at TPC Scottsdale fall between 450-500 yards, and efficiency on these specific holes has been a key to contending at this event. In fact, three of the past five victors at the Stadium Course have ended the week inside the top five in SG on the par 4s that land in this range. Unsurprisingly, the three par 5s at this desert venue rank as the three easiest holes on the scorecard, and capitalizing on these holes will also be vital this week. A year ago, Koepka ranked fourth in SG on the par 5s at TPC Scottsdale, making him the third Phoenix Open champ since 2017 to finish top five in the stat.
Lastly, putting is always an important skill to win any tournament, but it’s worth pointing out that we have seen poor putters like Hideki Matsuyama and Gary Woodland come out on top at TPC Scottsdale over the last decade. The firmness and high speed of these Bermuda greens seems to level out the field, and while we shouldn’t completely ignore putting stats this week, they are less important than usual.
Most of the best players elected to sit out the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but 15 of the top-20 ranked golfers in the world will be teeing up this week in Scottsdale. Following the rare set up at Pebble Beach, we get back to a standard top-65 and ties cutline following the first 36 holes. From a viewing and fantasy perspective, this is one of the best weeks of the season outside of the majors, and below I have featured four of my top value plays that are priced under $7.5K on DraftKings.
Charles Howell III, $7,200
Don’t sleep on Howell this week. Evident from his outstanding 13/15 record at the Stadium Course, including eight top-30 finishes, the veteran loves competing in this event. On top of the stellar history, Howell comes into this week making seven of his past eight cuts, with three top 25s mixed in this run.
In his three most recent starts, the 45-year-old gained at least four strokes from T2G on every occasion and over his last 24 rounds, Howell ranks seventh in SG on par 4s ranging from 450-500 yards, setting him up perfectly for his return to Scottsdale. Howell has only cracked double-digit ownership in the DraftKings main GPP of the week once across his last 10 starts, and is an elite tournament option at this cheap price tag.
Keegan Bradley, $7,200
Bradley arrives in Scottsdale as the maker of 11 of his past 14 cuts. The former major winner finished inside the top 15 four times during this stretch, and ranks seventh in SG APP, 14th in SGT2G and 23rd in driving distance across the last 36 rounds. Combine this strong form with Bradley’s terrific Phoenix Open resume, and he is a tough value to ignore at this low salary.
In 10 career starts at TPC Scottsdale, Bradley has made eight cuts, five of which were finishes inside the top 25.
Aaron Wise ($7,100)
Attack Wise with full confidence at this discounted price. Prior to missing the weekend at the Farmers Open, the 25-year-old was on an extremely impressive run, with seven consecutive finishes inside the top 30, most notably with a T8 at the Shriners Open and a T5 at the CJ Cup. Across his last 24 rounds, Wise’s ball striking has been top notch, ranking eighth in SGT2G, and he also ranks 12th in SG on par 5s during this time.
The Oregon product’s stellar play has moved him up 53 spots in the world golf rankings over the last calendar year, and it’s hard to overlook how underpriced Wise is relative to his outright odds. On the DraftKings Sportsbook, Wise carries +6500 odds to win the Phoenix Open, which are the same odds as Tom Hoge, who costs $1K more for DFS purposes.
Mito Pereira, $7,000
Ignore that Pereira failed to make the cut this past week at Pebble Beach and go right back to the rising star at this inexpensive salary. This is the cheapest Pereira has been in 13 starts and prior to last week’s speed bump, the Chilean had advanced to the weekend at 10 of his first 14 events as a full-time member on TOUR. In this small amount of time, Pereira has already flashed some serious upside, carding three finishes inside the top six.
While this will be his first attempt at TPC Scottsdale, Pereira is an excellent course fit for the par 71. Over his last 36 rounds, the 25-year-old’s ball striking has been superb, ranking eighth in SGT2G and 11th in SG APP. Additionally, Pereira has been great with his driver, ranking 13th in SG OTT and 23rd in driving distance, and has also been a stud on 450-500 yard par 4s, ranking fifth in SG on this specific range. Pereira has the potential for a top 25 this weekend and could come with depressed ownership due to recency bias.
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