WM Phoenix Open - Winner

Hooray!!! Course rotation takes a back seat this week as we return to TPC Scottsdale for the Phoenix Open. Since the redesign here a handful of years ago scoring certainly does appear to be curbed a little with Mickelson back in 2013 being the only one to pass the 20 under mark in the last decade.

For 'course form' dogs this is a big week as it's one of the most predictable events looking at previous performance. Matsuyama has a couple of top fives as well as his two victories here. Koepka has two wins here. Bubba has a string of top five finishes. There are a hatful of golfers with plenty of form around here and it'll pay to have one eye on past performance here.

Desert form is another pointer of course with often firm conditions and easier putting surfaces. It's also worth noting that below average putters like Matsuyama and Watson have thrived here as the surfaces certainly level the playing field in terms of difficulty, or lack there of. With an element of risk reward type golf here it's important to look to the best ball strikers in the field and any form around Sawgrass will certainly be no negative.

Hideki Matsuyama at 18/1 (Eight Places)

With four top 11 finishes in his seven appearances here Daniel Berger is an interesting candidate this week. However, a withdrawal from Pebble whilst being defending champion is not ideal preparation and despite really liking his chances at Phoenix for the month leading in, I have to step off the train despite being burned before making similar decisions.

I want to get one class act on my list this week as this event is often won by players in the top quarter of the market. With two wins in his last four events I find it difficult to swerve Hideki Matsuyama. The Japanese star is riding the crest of a wave right now after winning the Zozo towards the end of last year then again a few weeks ago at the Sony.

He won that with the putting performance of his career and although it's difficult to replicate that in the coming weeks I can't help but feel Hideki wouldn't be a much bigger price had he posted a few top 10s instead of those wins.

His putting reverted to type at the Farmers but his long game was every bit as good if not better than what it was at the Sony and there's every chance he putts well enough to contend here once again on his most successful venue. Two wins here and two top fives is as good as it comes in the field and I can't help but feel he should be second favourite in this event alongside, if not shorter than Thomas.

3pts each-way H.Matsuyama 18/1 (1/5 8)

Hideki Matsuyama - 3pts e/w @ 18/1

Corey Conners at 50/1 (Eight Places)

From week to week I don't like to lean too heavily on course form but it's the only reason I'm put off Talor Gooch this week. He is absolutely flying and with a handful of top 5 finishes in the Desert as well as a top five at Sawgrass then he must enter the equation. Not many have recovered from MC-61-MC form here to go on to win though and I'll have to leave him out as there's no explanation to excuse the poor efforts here.

Instead around the same price I'll opt for Corey Conners who would fit in rightly with many winners and contenders here who struggle long term with the flat stick. The Canadians tee to green game has been in excellent shape for a number of months now. His putting was improving also up until last time out at the Farmers where he had a nightmare.

That can often be down to the Poa Annua greens there and I'm prepared to gloss over it. If we're looking to a classy ball striker there aren't many better in the field than Conners and it's often a case of how many putts he can hole. He managed a top 20 last year on his second visit here shooting four rounds in the 60s so around the 50/1 mark this week is a price I'm prepared to pay to see how he fares on the greens.

1pt each-way C.Conners 50/1 (1/5 8)

Corey Conners - 1pt e/w @ 50/1

Keegan Bradley at 100/1 (Eight Places)

I'm looking to keep on the right side of Keegan Bradley this week given how impressive his long game has been of late. He has seven top 20s in his last 17 events and can be considered a little unfortunate not to be better than that lately. At the Sony when finishing 12th he ranked 13th in Approach and 1st in tee to green. More good form followed at Torrey where he finished 16th in Approach and 28th tee to green.

Poor putting has let him down on both occasions and it was the same at the RSM at the back end of last year. He has five top 25 finishes here and has a score average in the 60s after 10 appearances here. This is certainly a place where he may see some more lucrative dividends to his solid long game and triple figure prices are a shade too big in my book. 

1pt each-way K.Bradley 100/1 (1/5 8)

Keegan Bradley - 1pt e/w @ 100/1

Gary Woodland at 100/1 (Eight Places)

Former US Open champ and winner here back in 2018 Gary Woodland enters my staking plan this week. There were plenty of positives last time out at the Farmers and maybe we can put down the missed cut at the Amex to rust having not played in a few months.

He improved greatly at Torrey on route to finishing 39th. He ranked 10th in Putting there and 21st in Approach. He didn't quite have it off the tee but a return to a less demanding setup off the tee should help at Scottsdale. The last time we seen him in the Desert was at the CJ Cup where he finished ninth and that performance was after a missed cut at the Sanderson.

He has surely lost a bit of his sparkle these last couple of years since winning the US Open but it's worth keeping an eye on any improvement and there was enough last time out to suggest he is worth a bet at triple figures at an event he has previously won.

0.75pt each-way G.Woodland 100/1 (1/5 8)

Gary Woodland - 0.75pts e/w @ 100/1

Nate Lashley at 150/1 (Eight Places)

Nate Lashley has shown a fondness for this place finishing third and 17th in two appearances and I'm prepared to take the chance on him at triple figures given how he played last week. After a horrendous week at the Amex he turned things around quickly at Pebble and should again be suited by the lack of length here at Scottsdale.

He managed seventh off the tee last week and was 11th from tee to green which is a huge positive heading to Phoenix. With another top 15 posted in the Desert back in 2019 Lashley looks suited by this type of test. It's a big ask but he certainly took a big step in the right direction last week at Pebble and could take an even bigger leap this week for his second tour victory. 

0.75pt each-way N.Lashley 150/1 (1/5 8)

Nate Lashley - 0.75pts e/w @ 150/1