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PGA Tour's Phoenix Open: Best bets

February 8, 2022 10:44 PM
USATSI_17461281

Two weeks ago, Luke List earned his first PGA Tour victory after 206 career starts at the Farmers Insurance Open. Last week, Tom Hoge did the same after 203 starts at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. With a terrific ball-striking performance on the back nine on Sunday, Hoge also provided this column with a 60-1 outright winner. He went 9-for-9 for Greens In Regulation, hitting seven approach shots inside of 20 feet with an average proximity of 15 feet, 5 inches. Hoge gained 2.3 strokes on approach over the final nine holes. Readers of this column last week learned that Hoge, after Daniel Berger's withdrawal from the tournament, led all players in the field for Strokes Gained Approach over the previous 24 rounds coming into the event. Both List and Hoge are in this week's field at the Waste Management Phoenix Open at 70-1 price tags. Harold Varner III, the winner of last week's Saudi International, is priced at 50-1 and still seeking his first PGA Tour win.

At the top of the board this week is Scottsdale resident and Arizona State University alum Jon Rahm (15-2). Rahm, the current OWGR No. 1, has never been able to win a home game at the Phoenix Open but has the lowest cumulative score to par over the last five years here at 56-under. Justin Thomas (14-1), also seeking a win in Phoenix for the first time, has consecutive third-place finishes here in 2019 and 2020. Viktor Hovland (18-1), ranked No. 3 and arguably the hottest player in the world, only has one appearance here (MC, 2020) but has won three events in his last five starts dating back to November, including the Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago. Patrick Cantlay (16-1) was in contention last week at Pebble Beach but settled for a fourth-place finish. He has finished fourth or better in four of his last five events dating back to August, with a victory at the BMW Championship. 

While all of the players listed in the previous paragraph seek to win this event for the first time, Hideki Matsuyama (18-1) already has two victories (2016, 2017) and a runner-up (2015) in Phoenix plus two victories (Zozo Championship and Sony Open) in his last four worldwide starts. Jordan Spieth (20-1) looked to be the man to beat at Pebble Beach before he made a costly bogey at 17 and failed to birdie the par-5 18th, which led to a runner-up finish. A year ago, Spieth was in danger of falling out of the world’s top 100 until he finished fourth in Phoenix, jumpstarting a return to form. Xander Schauffele (22-1) was the co-runner-up here to eventual champion Brooks Koepka (30-1), a two-time winner in Phoenix (2015, 2021). 

In all, 15 of the top 20 players in the OWGR are in Phoenix for the best full-field event of the year so far in 2022. 

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