Last week Patrick Reed (25-1) claimed victory at Torrey Pines, shooting a gutsy, and very controversial, 14 under on the week. I don’t want to spend too much time on this, because if you’re a fan of golf like myself, then you’ve probably heard about it enough by now. However, I will say one thing – Patrick Reed is good for the game of golf. In life, you need villains. Patrick Reed is golf’s villain. Sure, they could have docked him a stroke, but the guy still overcame all the chatter to win by not one, but FIVE strokes. He’s done it on the biggest stages against the best players in the world. Whether you like him or dislike him, you must respect his ability. Now, on to the Waste Management.
The course: This week, the PGA Tour takes its talents to the Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale. The course itself is a Par 71 measuring 7,261 yards and features a unique blend of Bermudagrass greens. Another thing to note about TPC Scottsdale is that it plays at one of the higher altitudes on tour, making it play shorter than the advertised distance. Historically, this course favors ball strikers of all kinds: players that are aggressive both off the tee and when attacking the greens.
Xander Schauffele (11-1)
I know. “The guy doesn’t win!”. It’s hard to deny this criticism of Xander but there are a few reasons I’m willing to back him this week. First off, he had a relatively stress-free round on Sunday despite finishing T2 at Torrey Pines. More importantly, he played the daunting South Course to 7-under over the last three days of the tournament, best mark of anyone in the field. We’ve also seen Xander have an affinity for desert courses in the past, like his runner-up finish to Jason Kokrak at Shadow Creek. The big names usually win out here and I think things are trending in the right direction at a course that fits his game.
Bubba Watson (50-1)
Bubba fits the Waste Management mold both off the tee and attacking the greens. You’ll also be hard pressed to find a greater horse for the course this week than Watson. In his eleven starts here, Bubba has T5’d five times and missed the cut one time. Simply put, something suits his eye here. Also, it’s worth noting that he is an insane 49-under in first rounds here so he could be worth a first-round leader bet as well.
Corey Conners (66-1)
Conners is a player that is evolving before our eyes. He’s always been a prolific ball striker but has often struggled around and on the greens. But that trend is slowly changing as he has gained strokes, albeit marginally, around and on the greens over his last five tournaments. This is an encouraging sign for a guy who always just seems to be missing that good or even average putting week to claim his second PGA Tour title. He’s got the distance, he’s got the irons, now he just needs the flat stick.
Russell Henley (66-1)
Usually when a golfer is trending with good play, he is talked about in the betting community. For the entire second part of 2020, golf bettors would consider Henley as “trending” towards a win. The win still hasn’t come and this week, the Henley hype has cooled a bit after his missed cut at the American Express. I have no problem getting back on a guy who has gained over 3 strokes on his approach over his last 20 tournaments and generally putts lights out on Bermudagrass greens. Henley also snagged a third-place finish at Shadow Creek a few months back. This could be the moment the entire golf betting community was waiting on.
Longshots/Cheeks of the Week:
Brendan Steele & Chris Kirk (both 80-1)
This week’s Cheeks of the Week are Brendan Steele and Chris Kirk. Steele is a pure course horse play for me. In his ten starts at TPC Scottsdale, Steele has missed the cut twice. In the other eight made cuts he has T10’d four times, T25’d twice, and grabbed a 26th and 53rd place finish. Combine this with Steele’s recent finishes of 4th and 21st, and it could be a gutsy win for the veteran.
Kirk spent some time down in the Korn Ferry Tour last year before claiming a win at the King and Bear Classic in June. Since, Kirk has been a pleasant surprise on tour. Recently, he’s been lights out with his irons, gaining over four strokes on approach in each of his last two starts. Combine that with his seven of eight made cuts at TPC Scottsdale, and I think Kirk could surprise this week.
All PGA odds taken from BetMGM Sportsbook