During the 2023 golf season, Stadium sports betting analyst Nate Jacobson will share his betting targets each week. Here are his thoughts on this week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Note: Nate will tweet out his official bets when they are placed before the event. He also discusses his bets in all sports on the Sharp Lessons podcast. Subscribe on Spotify and Apple for episodes and follow Stadium Bets on Twitter for more sports betting content.
About the Tournament
After three weeks in California, the PGA TOUR heads to Arizona for the increasingly popular Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. There’s been attention to this Super Bowl lead-in the last few years because of the party atmosphere on the grounds. This year, there’s more juice to the event with a $20 million purse (up from $9 million in 2022), and the Super Bowl is being played in the same area this week. The PGA TOUR made this one of the elevated events to compete with LIV Golf and almost every good player still committed to the TOUR will play this week.
Top of the Board
The field for this event is one of the strongest we’ll see this year, and it’s headlined by Jon Rahm (+750) and Rory McIlroy (8/1). Rahm already has two PGA TOUR wins in 2023 and played his college golf at nearby Arizona State. Rahm has played this event seven times in his career and has finished no worse than 16th place, meaning he’s a real threat to break through in an area he’s familiar with. McIlroy is coming off a win in Dubai, where he outdueled a personal rival and LIV defect Patrick Reed with a walk-off birdie putt. Both players are priced correctly, so I won’t be betting them at this number.
Scottie Scheffler (12/1) and Xander Schauffele (16/1) were two players that interested me in my early research. This is the event last year where Scheffler recorded his first PGA TOUR win and began a two-month heater that resulted in four victories, including the Masters. I had a bet on Scheffler last year and was fully focused on his two-man playoff against Patrick Cantlay instead of the first quarter of the Super Bowl. Schauffele has a third- and second-place finish to show for at TPC Scottsdale the last two years (I also bet on him in this tournament last year). Both were 25/1 for this event 12 months ago in a weaker field, so I’m going to pass on them.
A player who I believe has a better chance to win than the odds indicate is Justin Thomas (22/1). His course history is strong at TPC Scottsdale with finishes in the top 17 during his last five appearances in the desert. Thomas finished third in 2019 and 2020, and was tied for eighth in 2022’s loaded leaderboard.
In his last start at the Farmers Insurance Open, he shot a four-under 68 at the tougher South Course at Torrey Pines before recording a disappointing two-over 74 at the North Course in the second round. What I saw from Thomas in the first round was enough for me to make an in-tournament bet on him, but he never factored into the final two rounds of the tournament. That tied-for-25th finish makes him seem forgotten this week and creates an opportunity to buy low on a proven winner.
A popular player that I already bet on is Cameron Young (30/1). The 25-year-old has come very close to winning on the PGA TOUR multiple times over the last 12 months. Last week, he went over to Saudi Arabia to play in an Asian Tour event and finished second place. The strongest part of Young’s game is his driver, which is helpful around TPC Scottsdale. Just like Scheffler did last year, I’m hoping Young can contend this week and possibly break through to the winner’s circle.
I’m going back to Hideki Matsuyama (35/1) this week. Before this event featured a star-filled field, Matsuyama dominated here early in his career. He finished fourth and second in 2014 and 2015, respectively, before winning the tournament in 2016 and 2017. Matsuyama rode a hot putter at Torrey Pines two weeks ago and finished tied for ninth. That putting isn’t sustainable long term, but it could continue for one more week at a course he loves.
With three outright bets near the top of the board, I’m only in on one player in this range. We didn’t see Corey Conners (60/1) during the last three events in California, but he had a strong ball-striking performance at the Sony Open four weeks ago and finished tied for 12th. The Canadian has made the cut in all three appearances at Waste Management. I will bet on him to win and also to finish in the top five.
I expect one of the better players in the field to win this week, but will have smaller bets on these three longshots.
Russell Henley (100/1) is another player who skipped the California swing, but I always have interest in him because of his ball-striking stats. I like the number on Henley, and he’s had some good showings in Phoenix.
K.H. Lee (100/1) finished second at this event in 2021. Since then he has two wins on TOUR and played well at the Hawaii events last month.
Brendan Steele (120/1) was a longshot bet for me at both the American Express and Farmers Insurance Open. Steele was contending after two rounds at the latter event before ultimately finishing tied for 20th. The veteran finished in the top six at this tournament in three straight years from 2012-14, and he was tied for third in 2018.