Golf fans would not believe the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to host a top level tournament. It takes the best part of a year of work for things to go smoothly and even then there is no guarantee that fans will come out to support it. So you can only imagine the levels of envy with which tournament hosts the world over watch the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Upwards of 650,000 fans turned up to last year’s Phoenix Open with an incredible 20,000 of them filling the grand stands around the 16th hole at TPC Scottdale’s Stadium Course. There is no atmosphere quite like that generated at the Phoenix Open anywhere else in golf. It’s more like a football match in places and for that reason it’s something of a Marmite course for PGA Tour players.
While lots of players give the Phoenix Open a wide berth, it’s a favourite stop off for many of the PGA Tour’s biggest personalities. However, even those who enjoy playing to the galleries have struggled with the pressure of the Phoenix Open. As well as the mental fortitude required to contest here, the winner this week will hit more greens in regulation than most and hole more than their fair share of putts.
Rahm’s Desert Form to Hold Up
Two time defending champion, Hideki Matsuyama, is understandably the bookies’ favourite for this week. However, the value bet from the top of the market could well be Jon Rahm.
Rahm is very much among the players who loves playing at the Phoenix Open. The Spaniard went to college in Arizona and has a habit of putting on the school’s jersey when playing the 17th hole. His best finish so far at the tournament came when he competed as an amateur in 2015 and he’s more than ready to kick on and win the thing this week.
Players with good form in the desert tend to have an edge at TPC Scottsdale and Rahm certainly has that having won the CareerBuilder Challenge in the Californian desert just a fortnight ago. Rahm, who is closing in on Dustin Johnson’s number one world ranking, is a good bet for his third PGA Tour title at 10/1 with Betfred.
Bubba to Bounce Back
When Bubba Watson turned up to TPC Scottsdale last year he was in real trouble with his game. He’d just signed a deal with a new golf ball manufacturer and the results were poor to say the least. Thankfully for Bubba’s fans, his game started coming back to him towards the end of last year and he’s switched back to using Titleist balls.
Known for his own style of play called ‘Bubba Golf’, Watson tends to thrive at a few select courses. The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale is clearly among that number as he has four finishes of eight or better over the years. As he displayed in the Ryder Cup, Bubba is not afraid of a bit of crowd noise. The Phoenix Open could be the best place for him to get back to his best so back Watson each way at 100/1 with Coral.