PGA Tour Picks: Waste Management Phoenix Open Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/29/2014
What a disappointing Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines last week! It was golf fans' first chance this year to see both Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson in the same tournament, and both had huge previous success on the San Diego course. Yet come Sunday, neither was playing in the final round of a tournament in which they both started in more than 20 years.
I'm frankly not surprised that Lefty pulled out late Friday night with muscle pain in his back. It had been bothering him all week, and I didn't expect Mickelson to do much after flying in from the Middle East, even if he has his own private jet that's probably nicer than the house I live in. There would have been no chance he played this week, but he's the defending champion and this is essentially his other hometown course. Don't expect to see him again for a while -- he already has pulled out of the Northern Trust Open at Riviera and the WGC-Match Play.
Tiger Woods isn't playing the PGA Tour this week as he is over in Dubai cashing in on an appearance fee in the European Tour event. He's actually not the favorite to win the Dubai Desert Classic at 11/2, Rory McIlroy (10/3) is. Woods had perhaps his most unusual day ever on Tour last Saturday. Yes, he made the 36-hole cut but then shot a stunning third-round 79, his worst round ever at Torrey Pines and second-worst round as a pro behind an 81 at the British Open. So Woods was booted from the Farmers Insurance Open. Why?
Tiger officially was a victim of the Tour's MDF, or "made cut, did not finish rule," something a lot of people aren't familiar with. Essentially, the Tour has a cut where the Top 70 players and ties make it. However, since 2008 if that number was higher than 78, then the secondary cut was made after the third round to get down to Top 70 and ties again, so Tiger, who was tied for 80th, was one of nine guys to be sent home.
The winner last week was Scott Stallings for his third career Tour title. He beat out K.J. Choi, Graham DeLaet, Jason Day, Pat Perez and Marc Leishman by a shot thanks to a birdie on his 72nd hole. I'm still 0-for-2014 as I didn't take Stallings -- I thought Tiger would again tame Torrey. I also thought Rickie Fowler would contend, but he missed the cut too. Didn't hit a Top-10 guy for the first time I think since early last year. About the only thing I got right was Keegan Bradley at -115 head-to-head over Jordan Spieth, who looked great for two rounds but then finished 75-75. Yeah, I'm ready to move on from Torrey Pines.
So now the Tour moves to TPC Scottsdale outside Phoenix for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. This is considered the No. 1 party event on the PGA Tour, especially the par-3 16th. Eight of the world's Top 30 are playing, and Lee Westwood is doing so for the first time.
Last year, Mickelson won this tournament for the third time in his career, going wire-to-wire. He finished at 28-under 256, tying Mark Calcavecchia’s 72-hole tournament record. It was two shots shy of the all-time PGA Tour record for a 72-hole winning score (Tommy Armour's 254 at the 2003 Valero Texas Open). Lefty's opening-round 60 tied for the lowest ever by an eventual winner of the tournament. His putt for a 59 on No. 18 caught the lip. He scorched the par 3s overall, playing them at 9 under.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Waste Management Phoenix Open Favorites
Naturally, Mickelson is the 14/1 favorite at Bovada. Again, as of this writing he's still playing even after seeing a doctor following last week's WD. I simply don't see how he can play well through this despite a stroke average of 67.69 at TPC Scottsdale the past four years.
Webb Simpson is next at 16/1. He has won already on the wraparound schedule back in October in Las Vegas. He last played at the Humana, finishing T23. Simpson didn't play here last year and was eighth the previous two years.
Bradley (22/1), Billy Horschel, Bubba Watson and Harris English (25/1) all round out the favorites. Bradley has just been so-so here, too, with a 24th last year and 15th in 2012. Horschel was T25 last week and T11 here last year. Watson was T23 last week and 15th here in 2013. English won the Mayakoba event in November and last played the Humana with a T33. He struggled to a T57 here last year but is a way better player since then.
PGA Tour Picks: Waste Management Phoenix Open Predictions
Bovada is trying something different this week -- not sure if it's permanent, but I like it. It lists every player's odds to finish in the Top 5 instead of just a handful of guys for a Top 10 or Top 5. Obviously, I would prefer Top 10. I would roll the dice on Simpson (11/4) and Ryan Palmer (11/2). Head-to-head, go with Simpson (-150) over Watson (+115) and Simpson (even) over Mickelson (-130). Also Hunter Mahan (-115) over Gary Woodland (-115) and Leishman (-115) over Fowler (-115). I like a playoff at +250 as the winning margin, Leishman (11/8) as the top Aussie and Padraig Harrington (15/2) as the top European off his T9 here last year.
DeLaet (28/1) is playing some great golf right now and seems ready for his first PGA Tour win. However, his track record at TPC Scottsdale stinks. Leishman (40/1) hasn't finished worse than seventh in his past three tournaments, but he also doesn't have good form here. Scott Piercy seems excellent value at 66/1. He was third last year and has and eighth and a sixth at TPC Scottsdale in the past five visits. However, I'm going with Palmer at 28/1. He was second last time out at the Humana and also has a runner-up and a fifth here.
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