This article is part of our DFS PGA series.
This week, the Tour heads to Scottsdale, AZ for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Our ThriveFantasy contest will cover Thursday's opening round.
For those you who are unfamiliar with ThriveFantasy and how it works, please refer back to my introductory article, which explains the ins-and-outs of this exciting format. Also, don't forget to apply our promo code (Rotowire) to get a $25 bonus match on your first deposit!
TPC Scottsdale - Par 71, 7,266 yards
I would rank this course somewhere in the middle of the pack in terms of difficulty on Tour. While it's wide open for long hitters and putts easier with Bermuda grass, the course's 68 bunkers present a daunting task if you aren't accurate with your approach shot. The highlight of the course is the Par 3 16th, and like many TPC courses, walking onto the tee gives one the experience of walking into a football stadium. The majority of the audience sets up camp here, and without going into too much detail, it's a hole where the onlookers' golf etiquette pretty much goes out the window. The tournament tends to draw a loud, rambunctious crowd.
With only three Par 5s on the course, the opportunity for birdies is slightly slimmer, so taking advantage there is paramount to success.
Here are the metrics we'll be using on our master chart as we make our selections:
Round One Scoring Average
Par 5 Birdie-or-Better
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
Proximity to Hole: 150-175 yards
We've now collected enough information to use 2020 numbers for these statistics, so we'll use those numbers moving forward.
|2019 Finish||2018 Finish||Par 5 Birdie-or-Better||SG:Off the Tee|
Based on the above information, I'll now go through each pick and make my selections. An asterisk (*) will highlight my five most confident plays. I left Billy Horschel off the chart because I'm fading him from my endorsement completely. I think his production is currently too volatile to predict.
Justin Thomas - STROKES: 67.5
The winner of this tournament usually falls around 16-under, so the winners are going to come in with 67 often. Combined with his Round One Scoring Average and course history, I'm fairly confident here.
Jon Rahm - EAGLES: 0.5
Rahm has three eagles so far this year, and he ranks 1st on Tour in Holes Per Eagle (48). All three of these Par 5s are reachable for Rahm, but the number of available eagle opportunities are diminished with only three Par 5s.
Rickie Fowler - BIRDIES: 3.5
Even if he birdied all three of the Par 5s, Fowler would need one more somewhere on the course. I'm not a fan of his 150-175 proximity numbers, but his course history here is excellent. This is definitely a tough call, so it isn't my most confident pick.
Matt Kuchar - PARS: 12.5
Kuchar's metrics aren't great, but his course history is off the charts. I think it's totally within the realm of possibility that Kuchar will methodically rack up pars and pick his spots on the Par 5s and Par 3s. I think we could see 13 pars from him.
Tony Finau - BOGEYS: 2.5
Finau is a complete enigma. He's missed the cut here twice in two years, but the metrics scream that the course seems to suit him. I can only assume that he couldn't sink any putts, and that he just got off the pace with the rest of the field. These are 2020 numbers, so let's aim for a better result.
Jordan Spieth - EAGLES + BIRDIES: 3.5
I think Spieth is poised to bounce back this year, but his metrics and course history don't leave me too confident, with one exception. If Spieth is going to make it to 67, he'll do it on the Par 4s thanks to his chart-topping proximity numbers. I just don't think it'll happen in the first round.
Hideki Matsuyama - PARS + BOGEYS: 12.5
When I see this line, we have to really look at the bogey numbers, and I just don't think Matsuyama's going to make many mistakes on this course. This leaves us the pars to consider. He'd need birdie or better on the Par 5s and birdies on three other holes to go under that par number. If a bogey shows up, that could seal the pick.
Xander Schauffele - STROKES: 68.5
His chart numbers do look pretty with the exception of those proximity numbers. I'm all in with Schauffele recording a 68 or better.
Bubba Watson - BIRDIES: 4.5
His BoB numbers are pretty good this season, and he's also pretty hot out of the gate. This won't be my most confident pick, but I'll predict a round filled with birdies AND bogeys.