Get ready for the wild and wacky week that is the WM Phoenix Open where the PGA TOUR becomes akin to a football match as swarms of people flock to TPC Scottsdale.
With the NFL’s season-ending showpiece also set to be contested in Phoenix on Sunday, hundreds of thousands of fans are expected in the area, clearing the way for things to get very loud indeed.
And as the PGA TOUR’s first full-field designated event, 22 of the top 25 players in the world are ready to do battle.
Among our key stats to focus on this week are Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. Of the last eight winners, five have finished the week ranked either first or second in this stat and none of the winners have ranked outside the top 19.
The last six champions have ranked T6 or better in Ball Striking. It’s hard to recover from water or some desert lies so players must keep it in play.
Here is a look at the players in this field currently ranking inside the top 10 on TOUR in these key stats (players not in the field omitted from the rankings).
2 – Jon Rahm
3 – Collin Morikawa
4 – Tommy Fleetwood
5 – Tony Finau
6 – Tom Kim
7 – Xander Schauffele
8 – Erik van Rooyen
9 – Max Homa
10 – Scottie Scheffler
1 – Jon Rahm
2 – Patrick Cantlay
3 – Scottie Scheffler
4 – K.H. Lee
5 – Hayden Buckley
6 – Rickie Fowler
6 – Tony Finau
6 – Max Homa
9 – Matt Fitzpatrick
1 – Jon Rahm
2 – Patrick Cantlay
3 – Tony Finau
4 – Cameron Young
5 – Max Homa
7 – Tom Kim
8 – Seamus Power
8 – Viktor Hovland
10 – Taylor Montgomery
Jon Rahm, the Scottsdale resident who went to college at Arizona State is the favourite at with world No.1 Rory McIlroy next at 8/1. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler sits next in line at 12/1 before Xander Schauffele at 14/1.
Rahm ranks top in the field in ALL of our key stats above and in his seven career starts in the tournament, has never been worse than T16. He has two wins already this season.
“I just obviously really want to be a part of it because I live here and I would love to win this tournament. It's something special,” Rahm said. “I was able to do it in Spain and haven't been able to do it here, so I want to show up for myself and for the people that are here supporting me.
“Looking forward to continuing the good play, and hopefully showing up Sunday. It's just a place that I'm comfortable… with the scoring conditions getting as hard as they get on the weekend with the firm greens, ball-striking obviously is a premium. So, I think that's always given me a chance to stay up there.”
McIlroy is coming off a win on the DP World Tour and was T13 in his only previous WMPO start. He is outside the top 10 in our key stats to this point this season, BUT he was inside the top 10 in all three categories last season.
Scheffler won last year after a blistering 63 in the third round catapulted him up the leaderboards. It was the first of his now four TOUR wins. He was seventh the year prior in Phoenix.
Schauffele has done everything except win this event. No worse than T17 in five starts including a runner up and third place finish that could have easily been victories.
Former champion (2019) Rickie Fowler (60/1) is starting to flash some of his old form. Popping up in the mix recently at Torrey Pines and now flashing up in our ball-striking stat. He has two runner up finishes in Phoenix also, although missed the cut the last two seasons.
Tommy Fleetwood (80/1) has not played in Phoenix before but his world class tee-to-green game make him a definite sleeper at value.
Then there is Billy Horschel (90/1) who has made the cut eighth straight times in the event and has a recent T6 and T9 in Phoenix. If he has turned the corner on his swing adjustments since Hawaii, he could make waves.
K.H. Lee at 100/1 finds his way into the ball striking stats AND was T2 in Phoenix in 2021.
Eric van Rooyen is a very juicy 300/1 this week despite being one of the better players on TOUR Tee-to-Green this season. The South African knows how to putt as well although missed the cut in his lone previous try in Phoenix.