Phoenix Open – Scottsdale, Ariz.
TPC Scottsdale Stadium Course (7,266 yards, par 71)
$1,242,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points to the winner
Raucous, rowdy, obnoxious, and loud have long been forbidden behaviors in golf, but TPC Scottsdale brings it in spades as it hosts the Waste Management Phoenix Open near Arizona State University for a 32nd edition. The par-3 16th hole, known as the “Greatest Show on Grass”, is widely known for its electric stadium setup that crams in 20,000+ party-loving fans with no filters. Five of the world’s top seven will tee it up in a top-weighted field this week, including Jordan Spieth, back-to-back defending champ Hideki Matsuyama, and ASU alum Jon Rahm. Look for birdies to fly in this adrenaline-pumping atmosphere and a score between 14-to-18 under to take the trophy.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Hideki Matsuyama
2016 – Hideki Matsuyama
2015 – Brooks Koepka
2014 – Kevin Stadler
2013 – Phil Mickelson
2012 – Kyle Stanley
2011 – Mark Wilson
2010 – Hunter Mahan
2009 – Kenny Perry
2008 – J.B. Holmes
Key Stats to Winning in TPC Scottsdale
• Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
• Driving Distance
• Par-Breaker percentage
Few other courses have consistently lived up to their profile as well as TPC Scottsdale, even despite some course renovations in recent years. There’s no doubt this is a ball-striker’s venue, as those who thrive from tee-to-green have enjoyed wild success the last decade. Though bombing it off the tee isn’t a requirement to winning, longer hitters have the added luxury to hit the three par-5s in two and potentially drive the green on the short par-4 17th hole. Normally overlooked here is elite iron play, which has quietly persisted as a key ingredient in making par-breakers in Scottsdale. Putting is clearly of lesser importance here, as the greens are flat and allow even shaky putters to look graceful with the flat stick -- think Hideki Matsuyama, Kevin Stadler, and two-time runner-up Bubba Watson.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jordan Spieth, $12500 – Spieth’s unparalleled putting gets the headlines, but last year he was second in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, a major ingredient to success at TPC Scottsdale. Spieth is obviously great at all aspects of the game and can win anywhere, but his combination of smarts and talent should net him his third top-10 finish in as many starts in Scottsdale this week.
Hideki Matsuyama, $12400 – You may not find one person who is pessimistic on Matsuyama this week, as the Japanese star has finished no worse than fourth in four tries at TPC Scottsdale, including back-to-back playoff wins the past two years. Hideki should easily be among the highest-owned players on all DFS golf websites, but he’s more than worth the salary and attention this week.
Jon Rahm, $12200 – After a double-bogey late Saturday crippled his weekend, Rahm should be hungry to return to his otherwise high-performing self near his alma mater Arizona State. Rahm is among the world’s best from tee to green, as evidenced by him finishing third in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green last season.
Rickie Fowler, $11900 – The flashy Fowler has lived up to his hype at the electric TPC Scottsdale, finishing fourth and second the last two years. As one of the top-5 talents in this field, Fowler should again find himself in the mix Sunday afternoon.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Webb Simpson, $11100 – Last year’s runner-up, Simpson has quietly put together an incredible record at the Phoenix Open, complete with six-straight top-15s since 2011. The 32-year-old has notched a handful of top-20s in recent months, so his presence in DFS lineups should be no surprise in the desert this week.
Gary Woodland, $10300 – With top-15s his last two events and a history of great ball striking, Woodland fits the profile quite well despite his up-and-down results here. Though many will be scared by two missed cuts in the last three years, his reasonable salary of $10,300 makes him a nice depth option.
Brendan Steele, $9600 – A perfect history of 7-of-7 made cuts including three top-6 finishes at Scottsdale, Steele is a flat-out bargain in a top-weighted field this week. Call it intuition but given Steele’s recent trip to the winner’s circle last October, it would be no surprise to see him closely contend for victory this week. The bonus here is he comes with such little risk that he’s hard to leave out of your FanDuel lineup at this price.
Harris English, $8500 – About halfway down the salary list we see English, and no, this is not a misinterpretation. But it may as well be an oversight on the part of FanDuel, who priced him so low I nearly missed this diamond in the rough. English has not only put up 6-of-6 made cuts, he’s finished inside the top-15 three times at TPC Scottsdale! Now, English did underperform last year, but he’s a two-time PGA Tour winner with youth and upside to bounce back. In my opinion, he’s a no-brainer bargain this week.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
More so than other weeks, Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green (SG:T2G) should heavily influence this week’s lineup decisions. And don’t just look at 2018 year-to-date, make sure to scan longer time periods like total year 2017 or 2016 to get a better idea of who is elite tee-to-green. If you can put together a lineup of six players who have above average SG:T2G, driving distance, and par-breaker percentage, you will be well ahead of most DFS peers.