Since there’s only one course in play, and the daylight hours are still shorter than usual, this tournament has a slightly smaller field with just 135 golfers. This week’s event isn’t a signature field tourney, but it still has a very strong field with five top 10 players (from the OWGR) and nine top 20 players in the field. It’s of course led by back-to-back WM Phoenix Open winner Scottie Scheffler who remains at number one in the OWGR.
Last week’s winner Wyndham Clark is playing, as are Matthew Fitzpatrick, and Max Homa. Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas are playing and will be joined by past WMPO winners Hideki Matsuyama and Rickie Fowler. This event is a bit of a reprieve from the typical West Coast setups we get in that players are now at a stadium-style course, away from the ocean, and also no longer on full-fledged poa greens.
The Friday cut line also returns this week with only the top 65 and ties getting to play the weekend.
TPC Scottsdale: Scottsdale, Arizona
Par 71, 7,261 yards
TPC Scottsdale underwent some minor renovations five years ago that were aimed at “toughening up” the golf course and resulted in a few holes being lengthened. Some bunkers were also moved to provide better protection for pins and to challenge players off the tee. Even with the changes, players have still managed to put up some low scores at this track, with the winners hitting between 16-19 under par the last three years.
One of the main features that make this such a fun event is the setup of the course. TPC Scottsdale is a traditional par 71, made up of three par 5s, four par 3s, and 11 par 4s, but contains several scoring holes that encourage aggressiveness and reward great shots with chances at birdies and eagles. All of the par 5s are reachable in two by most players (especially the longer hitters), and these holes are generally three of the easiest to score on. The par 4s are mostly between 410 and 490 yards in length, and this can be where the big hitters gain their biggest advantage if they find the fairway off the tee.
There are also a couple of unique holes players encounter down the stretch, too. The 16th is a very easy par 3, except for the fact it’s set in a stadium with thousands of cheering fans who rarely stay silent. The drivable par 4 (hole 17) is also a gem, as it presents players with a huge risk vs. reward scenario coming home and can be a huge momentum shifter later in the round. In 2021 Brooks Koepka eagled this hole in the final round on his way to the win.
The wide-open nature of the course gives it a semi-links-like feel — although water does come into play on six of the final nine holes — and gives players with good distance off the tee lots of chances to hit driver. The average driving distance here is 10-12 yards more than the PGA TOUR average, so the course does seem to cater to bombers a bit, although we’ve seen shorter hitters compete here regularly (see Webb Simpson - who won in 2020 - and 2021 runner-up Kyoung-Hoon Lee as examples).
Four of the last six winners at TPC Scottsdale gained +6.0 or more strokes on their approaches over the field, so if a distance disadvantage off the tee is to be overcome, players will need a great week with their irons. Dominate off-the-tee play and putting can carry a player, but for shorter hitters, the key to TPC Scottsdale is great mid-to-long iron play. The 150-175 yards distance is an important basket for proximity stats, with five par 4s ranging between 450-500 yards.
Ultimately, Scottsdale is a stadium test similar to some of the other tougher TPC venues we see on the PGA TOUR. TPC Sawgrass is somewhat of a decent comparable in that elite ball striking and good scrambling is primary to success at both venues. Players can’t necessarily bomb their way around either course — or simply make putt their way to victory (although some have come close). Since Scottsdale is such an all-round test it also makes course history somewhat more important this week than others, and a good week to lean on the course horses who have been dominant here throughout their careers.
2024 weather outlook: The weather this year isn’t going to be ideal. Highs for the first two days will likely sit in the 55-58 F range and there may be some wind and rain in the A.M. on Thursday for the players to contend with. It’s not necessarily terrible weather we’re talking about but avoiding that small patch of poor weather could be beneficial for Thursday starters. Friday, the sun comes out a little and the wind dies down. The temperatures are set to rise a little on the weekend. The course may play a little longer than usual due to the cool temperatures and that’s something to keep in mind for betting and DFS as it’s likely to favor players with a little extra length and consistency off the tee. For wave stacking purposes, watching how Thursday’s forecast plays out will be key. If rain and wind persist Thursday A.M. then stacking Thursday P.M. with Friday A.M. players could be beneficial.
LAST 5 WINNERS
2023—Scottie Scheffler -19 (over Nick Taylor -17)
2022—Scottie Scheffler -16 (over Patrick Cantlay playoff)
2021—Brooks Koepka -19 (over Kyoung-Hoon Lee -18)
2020—Webb Simpson -17 (over Tony Finau playoff)
2019—Rickie Fowler -17 (over Branden Grace -15)
- 12 of the last 13 winners have had a T7 or better finish in one of their last five starts before their win at the WMPO.
- Each of the past eight winners of the WMPO had posted a top-10 finish at this event in a season prior to their win.
Winners Stats and Course Detail
2023: Scottie Scheffler (19-under par)
2023 lead-in form (11-7-9-3-45)
SG: Off the Tee—+2.7
SG: Approach— +9.5
SG: Tee to Green—+13.7
- Phoenix might be one of the best all-around tests of the season, as players who can spike in multiple different categories often do well here.
- Scheffler dominated off the tee on his first win but has putted well at this venue in both of his wins — and it’s worth noting that five of the top 10 finishers at this event in 2022 gained over 5.0 strokes putting.
- Still, solid ball striking is the most predictive stat for this week’s test. Three of the last four winners ranked in the top three for the week in strokes gained approach stats, with 2020 winner Webb Simpson gaining 7.5 strokes on approach for the week and last year’s winner (Scheffler) gaining +9.5 strokes on approach.
- Driving Distance also tends to get emphasized here more than it does at other venues, and only two of the past eight winners ranked outside the top 30 for the week in driving distance (Matsuyama 2016, Webb Simpson 2020).
- Shorter hitters can compete, but as evidenced by Simpson, they need to have an elite week with their irons if they are to do so. As for approaches, the most popular range tends to be between 150-175 yards, but there are also plenty of > 200-yard shots in play with three par 5’s and five par 4s in the 450-500 range.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Scottie Scheffler ($11,600; best finishes: win - 2023, win-2022): It’s hard to argue with the success that Scheffler has had at TPC Scottsdale. The last two seasons he’s shot a combined 35-under par and has dominated on these greens gaining 4.2 and 6.5 strokes putting in both of his wins.
2. Hideki Matsuyama ($8,400; best finishes: win-2017, 2016): Matsuyama has won this event twice and has finished T4 or better in four of the nine instances where he’s started and finished the event (WD-2018). The Japanese superstar’s impressive tee-to-green works wonders in this tougher desert environment, and he is just one start removed from a solid T13 finish at the Farmers.
3. Rickie Fowler ($8,200; best finishes: win-2019, second - 2010 and 2016): Fowler won this event in 2019 and has finished T11 or better in five of the past eight seasons, a run which also includes a playoff loss to Matsuyama in 2016. He finished T10 at this event last season and could come to live again at his favorite venue after a slow start to 2024.
4. Justin Thomas ($10,000; best finishes: 2020-T3, 2019-third): Thomas has played at the WM Phoenix Open in each of the past seven years and finished no worse than T13 in his last six starts at TPC Scottsdale (4th last season). He’s ranked first in strokes gained total stats at this week’s venue, despite never winning this event. After a couple of solid starts to begin his year a win this week wouldn’t be overly shocking.
1. JT Poston ($8,900, Recent finishes: T20-T11): Poston landed another solid finish last week with a T20 at Pebble Beach. He’s second in the field in birdie or better % over the last 24 rounds.
2. Eric Cole ($8,500, Recent finishes: T14-cut-T21): Cole bounced back from a rare MC to finish T14 last week. He’s relentless in how many birdies he converts and never seems to fail to give himself a shot at a top 10.
3. Justin Thomas ($10,000, Recent finishes: T6-T3): Thomas has strung together three top-six finishes in a row. He’s also fifth now in opportunities gained over the last 24 rounds.
4. Beau Hossler ($8,000, Recent finishes: T14-T6): Hossler is playing solid golf. He’s made nine cuts in a row and finished top 15 in five of his last six starts.
5. Thomas Detry ($7,600, Recent finishes: T4-T20): Detry has played very good golf on the west coast. If not for poor weather canceling the final round he may have challenged for his first win last week.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Keep Trusting Thomas
Justin Thomas has turned his game around nicely to start 2024. While he’s had to deal with being outside the top 60 for qualifying at the signature events it hasn’t affected his play thus far. The last two events have seen Thomas deal with course rotations rather well and he likely would have contended for the third-round lead last week if not for his notoriously finicky putter. However, Thomas is much more familiar with the Scottsdale greens and has putted well here for his career. He makes sense as a high-end core target to build around for DFS. Below him, Sam Burns ($9,600) also looks like a nice upper-tier target as does Hideki Matsuyama ($8,400), who tends to save his best west coast golf for this stop. Other names to think about for this format include Adam Hadwin ($8,000) and Luke List ($7,100).
Tournaments: Max out with Min Woo
While it’s hard to like the lack of course history he brings, everything suggests that TPC Scottsdale should be right up Min Woo Lee’s ($8,700) alley. He’s a strong driver of the golf ball who is skilled around the greens to handle these kinds of tougher stadium layouts (6th PLAYERS 2023). Lee won in the fall and did show well at the TPC Stadium course in Palm Springs which is another good indicator for this week. I also like the chances for Beau Hossler ($8,000) to potentially make noise this week along with Kevin Yu ($7,300). Both are strong drivers of the golf ball and Hossler has a good course history at this event and finished T7 in the desert (Shriners) over the fall. Other potential GPP targets for this week include Sungjae Im ($9,300), Si Woo Kim ($7,900) and KH Lee ($6,900).
MY PICK: Byeong Hun An ($8,800)
I’ll test my luck and go back to the well with Byeong Hun An one more time at TPC Scottsdale.
Storytime. Back in 2016 An was a favorite of mine at this event and took a 3-shot lead into the back-nine. He imploded and finished 6th that week but it was evident this layout and him gelled. Since then, he’s played Scottsdale on four other occasions and is a perfect 5/5 in made cuts for his career here (he also finished T9 in 2020). He hasn’t played this event in a couple of seasons but comes into this year’s version with some of his best form and looks like a great fit once again to challenge for the win at Scottsdale.
An ranks 6th in strokes gained off the tee and over the last 24 rounds and, more significantly, actually leads the field in par 4 scoring (often one of the better indicators of elite play) over that span as well. His long irons have been good of late (13th in proximity from 175-200 yards) and he’s third in both opportunities gained and birdies or better gained (again, over the last 24 rounds). He’s also already had one close call this year (playoff loss at Sony) and really did nothing wrong down the stretch at that event except get unlucky that a couple of short putts didn’t fall.
Course history is a strong indicator this week and with An’s history and current form both sending us strong signals it does feel like this may be his time to grab a win. At under $9,000 for DFS you likely don't need him to win to pay off (making him a nice upper-tier value to gravitate towards) but if you want to sweat his first PGA trophy, his +3500 price on the DraftKings Sportsbook is more than reasonable enough to take a shot with this week.
MY SLEEPER: Michael Kim ($7,100)
Kim has had a nice start to the season. He posted a T6 at the American Express three weeks ago and was able to handle himself well around the tougher Torrey Pines, where he finished T37. Overall, the former John Deere Classic winner has now made seven cuts in a row on the PGA TOUR and looks like a player who has found some form early in 2024. He’ll be coming in rested as well after taking last week off and missing out on the poor weather that sabotaged the final round of the AT&T Pro-Am event.
Over the last 24 rounds, Kim also ranks out well in a lot of key stats. He’s fifth in par 4 scoring from 450-500 yards and 6th in overall opportunities gained. He’s also 12th in proximity from 175-200 yards and 16th in total strokes gained stats over that span. This will be his sixth time playing TPC Scottsdale and while he hasn’t played this event the past couple of seasons the fact he was 3 for 5 in made cuts at this event early in his career is a good sign he at least moderately likes the layout — as he was famous for missing a ton of cuts, pre-2022.
The Crown Is Yours: Sign up for DraftKings and experience the ultimate host for games and betting experiences!
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook, lines and odds subject to change.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.