PGA Preview — Jon Rahm & Justin Thomas Favored for Rowdy Phoenix Open - Odds, TV Schedule
by Kent Whitaker Scores & Statson
It’s time for the Rowdy Rocking PGA Tournament known as the Waste Management Phoenix Open. The event has become legendary because of its signature No. 16 Hole that’s lined with stadium style bleaches packed with screaming fans. This week oddsmakers feel that Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas have the best shot of navigating the hecklers and tackling TPC Scottsdale.
Rahm, at +700, comes in as the favorite following a solid start to the season with Thomas close behind at +900 while being ranked 4th in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). The two top a field that includes Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Tony Finau, and Rickie Fowler not to mention last years defending Champion Gary Woodland.
Here’s how the top-five favorites to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open round out according to Intertops.
Last year Woodland carded his first win in almost five years when he and Chez Reavie battled in a one-hole play-off. It was an emotional day coming after a stressful year in which he and his wife Gabby were expecting twins. One of the babies was lost due to a miscarriage while their son Jaxson was born a few months later but ten weeks premature.
Gabby, holding Jaxson, were there for the win. The moment made for tear-jerking TV as it was noted that Woodland had no idea his family was in the crowd thanks to fellow pro Matt Kuchar. While Woodland focused on getting the win Kuchar drove to gather the family.
“Seeing my son come out onto the green surprised me. I didn’t even know he was there,” Woodland said as they had decided to keep Jaxson away from large crowds as his health improved. “It meant more than I can ever explain, having my family there. The emotions just kind of boiled over and got the best of me. You don’t plan for that. That was something I’ll never forget.”
Can Mickelson Make Another Run?
Phil Mickelson (+2500) made a run for a possible 44th PGA Tour win at the Desert Classic two weeks ago where he finished in sole possession of second place. Mickelson fell short as Adam Long took the win. Mickelson, who’s a fellow Arizona State alumnus with Rahm, came close to finishing with a 59 at the Classic and showed fantastic form.
He had command of his complete set and showed more focus than he did in the closing months of last years schedule. Remember his putt of a rolling ball? Now “Lefty” is returning to a course where he’s already won three times. And it’s a course that favors his game. TPC Scottsdale demands drivers off many of the tees as it plays at 7300 yards. But landing zones are ample in size which will allow Mickelson to use his short irons. Don’t be surprised if Phil notches his 44th win in Phoenix and more on the course below.
Don’t Count out Matsuyama
Hideki Matsuyama will seek a delayed “three-peat” at the Phoenix Open following a rough start to the event last season. He won back-to-back victories in 2016 and 2017 in dramatic fashion as both ended with a play-off. But, his possible third win, which would have been the three-peat, came to a crashing end when he injured his wrist and withdrew on day one.
He’s coming off a great showing at the Farmers Insurance Open despite a drop from the front to sixth place following a rough third round. Matsuyama powered back to finish the tournament T3 with Talor Gooch. Matsuyama is once again healthy, playing well and returning to a course where he’s been successful.
TPC Scottsdale by the Numbers
TPC Scottsdale opened in 1986 and was designed by Tom Weiskopf who returned in 2014 for multiple renovations which added some new twists to the course. Bunkers provide most of the hazards as the course is short on water due to its obvious desert location.
The first portion of the course plays through residential areas before players are dumped into the rowdy crowds and stadium seating! The Phoenix Open is one of the highest attended event on the schedule and this year will be no different as more fan venues have been added.
The course plays long at just below 7,300 yards with long fairways and natural curves. The signature hole, according to fan-polling, is Hole 16 which is a short par-three that plays into the massive gathering of screaming 20,000 fans filling the stands.
There’s a saying at TPC Scottsdale coined by Brandt Snedeker (+6000); “Where’s the quietest place on the course? In the parking lot in your car!”
TPC Scottsdale is 1,400 feet above sea level and is geared towards great tee-shots. Players who take advantage of short irons approaching the greens will rack up plenty of birdies. The last eight of nine winners have finished between 15 and 18 under.
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona Designers: Tom Weiskopf Established: 1986 Par: 71 Length: 7,266 Course rating: 74.7 Slope rating: 142 North Grass: Bermuda, ryegrass, bentgrass, and fescue
Phoenix Open TV - all times ET
• Round 1: Thursday, January 31 – 3-7p (Golf Channel) • Round 2: Friday, February 1 – 3-7pm (Golf Channel) • Round 3: Saturday, February 2 – 1-3pm; 3-6pm (NBC) • Final Round: Sunday, February 3 – 1-3pm; 3-6pm (NBC) • Streaming: PGA TOUR LIVE: Live featured groups Thursday-Friday. • SiriusXM: Thursday-Saturday, 1-7 p.m.; Sunday, 2-7 p.m. PGA Tour channel.
Kent Whitaker is an award-winning author, culinary writer and
sports writer. Whitaker's books range from BBQ, Grilling, Tailgating and additional
culinary titles to WWII history books, books about NASCAR and racing and titles
Whitaker, known as “the Deck Chef,” has a culinary, history
and journalism background. He credits this for his cookbook writing style. “My
books are people based. I interview, gather recipes from real people and
sources – and combine the recipes with back-stories. My cookbooks are slices of
Whitaker can also be found on TV, Radio, Print, and as a
celebrity spokesperson. He has appeared on radio and TV including Food Network.
He’s the Emeril Live Barbecue Contest winner and columnist for the National
Whitaker has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, ARCA Racing, The NFL,
SEC Football, Professional Golf and more. His books include:
·Great American Grilling – Ultimate Backyard Barbecue
·The Gulf Coast Seafood Cookbook
·Smoke in the Mountains - The Art of Appalachian
·Checkered Flag Cooking - Tailgating Stock Car Racing
·The Hometown Cookbook Series; The Tennessee Hometown Cookbook,
as well as Georgia, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, West
Virginia, Alabama, and Florida.
·The USS Alabama - The History of the Mighty A
·Bullets and Bread - Feeding the Greats and Grunts of
·Big Mo's Tennis Ball Hunt
the Mountains Smokey?
Kent has worked with several brands as spokesperson. Companies
include Check Mark, ALPO, TimberTech, Vermont Castings, Pabst Blue Ribbon, E.H.
Campbell Trading, Big Show Foods, and others. Whitaker, and his wife Allyson,
hosted a NASCAR and racing themed show on ESPN Radio for several years. That
show has morphed into a weekly short format tailgate show heard on over 50
Kent is also a member of the United States Coast Guard
Auxiliary and severed on the National Staff as an AUXCHEF/AUX Food Service
Specialist and National Branch Chief.
Kent and his wife Allyson live in Tennessee and have one ARMY
Strong son, Macee. You can visit him online at www.thedeckchef.com and Twitter/Instagram