The Waste Management Phoenix Open is a tournament that golfers and fans alike either love or hate. It is a historic event which stretches back to 1932 but over the years it has become less well known for big name winners such as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Vijay Singh and more for its uniquely raucous atmosphere. It is easy to forget that this is just a regular PGA Tour event when you read that over 400,000 fans descend on TPC Scottsdale and when you get to the par three 16th you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d turned up to the wrong sport.
The 16th is known as the Coliseum and more fans than attend many Championship football matches pack around it creating the most boisterous atmosphere in the whole of golf. Each of the players who tee off have sweaty hands and shaky legs as they know that any shot that misses the greens gets a resounding chorus of boos but the noise that greets a hole in one was described as the loudest cheer in sport by Francesco Molinari who aced the 16th last season.
The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale underwent some major changes, overseen by Tom Weiskopf, last season which were generally well received by both players and fans but with an extra year to bed in, the course is expected to be even better come Thursday morning in Phoenix. It is a par 71 layout which plays around the 7,200 yard mark for the PGA Tour professionals and although it is considered a difficult course, going low is not impossible and it will likely take something around the -15 that Brooks Koepka achieved in winning here last year to take the title on Sunday.
Bubba Watson may have never won the Phoenix Open but with two consecutive runners-up finishes behind him, he goes into the tournament as the bookies’ favourite. Bubba has never finished worse than par in any of his 34 rounds at the Stadium Course and with his mix of prodigious length and incredible shot shaping ability he will be the man to stop this year at odds of 12/1 with Coral.
Brandt Snedeker won a weather delayed tournament at Torrey Pines last week and is well fancied to win in Phoenix but the physical and emotional toll of that win means it is best to avoid him. Better to bet on Rickie Fowler who actually missed the cut last week. Fowler was clearly shattered after his incredible performance when winning in Abu Dhabi and having taken a couple of days off, he should be near his best so the 16/1 Bet365 are offering looks like value.
Billy Horschel was one of the very few players to finish under par in his fourth round at Torrey Pines last week and he spoke during the tournament of how happy he is with his new clubs having swapped equipment manufacturer. The 2014 FedEx Cup winner has not won since winning two of those playoff events but he’s hitting it nicely and has played well here before so take a chance with an each way bet at 66/1 with Bet365.