The Waste Management Phoenix Open is one of the most exciting weekends in golf. It includes the biggest party in golf at the 16th hole. In addition, the tournament itself is one of the most heavily attended on the Tour. The course recently went under a redesign by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish, who specifically went out of their way to shift bunkers into play off the tee for the PGA Tour field.
The Clear Studs ($9,500+)
There are some extremely high-priced golfers up at the top this week. Jordan Spieth ($12,000), Hideki Matsuyama ($11,700), and Justin Thomas ($11,500) lead the way as the only three players that are above $10,000. The three of them have by far the best odds to win. From an ownership perspective, Thomas should be highly owned based on his dominance in Hawaii. Spieth will also be highly owned on name value alone. This may be the week to play Matsuyama if you’re paying up for any of the $11,000+ guys.
Jon Rahm ($9,700) and Rickie Fowler ($9,500) round out the rest of the high-priced tier this weekend. Rahm is an alum of Arizona State, coming off an impressive win last week, and is playing in his old stomping grounds. Narrative street will be in full effect for Rahm which should push his ownership up to a point where it isn’t worth playing him. Fowler always has a healthy ownership level because of his fan favorite status. He finished as the runner-up at this tournament last year in a heartbreaking playoff loss to Matsuyama.
It’s difficult to play any of these five guys at the top because of their potential ownership levels. Considering the discount that Rahm and Fowler afford, it might be wise to choose one and use the leftover salary to make a more balanced lineup. If I’m paying up for one, it is most likely going to be Matsuyama strictly from a game theory perspective.
Mid-Tier Guys ($9,500-$7,500)
The mid-tier is very wide open this week which can lead to a variety of different roster constructions. There are some value plays, but most lineups will be a combination of mainly guys from this tier.
Ryan Moore ($8,600) has the type of course history, with 4 straight Top-20 finishes, to earn consideration. The fact that he also placed T3 in the Tournament of Champions adds to the possibility that he will be an interesting play this week.
Russell Knox ($7,500) might be the play of the week. He’s missed one cut since the middle of April last year. Knox also placed 15th at this tournament in 2015. If that isn’t enough, he’s on a streak of 9 Top-25 finishes. Knox’s salary this week is one of the rare times when there’s a discrepancy between odds and salary. He comes in as the 26th highest salary but has the 13th best odds to win. Knox will be the starting point for my cash lineups this week.
Tony Finau ($7,600) is a favorite of mine again this week. Since the start of 2017, he hasn’t finished outside the Top-20. Finau had a missed cut here in 2016, but is in much better form coming into this year’s contest. Playing Finau with Knox will allow the flexibility to get up to one of the higher priced guys in lineups this weekend.
Value Plays (Sub-$7,500)
Keegan Bradley ($7,400) comes in just under $7,500 but is a great play this week. He has played well over the last 4 years in this tournament and is coming off a T4 last week in Torrey Pines.
Marc Leishman ($7,000) is another golfer that caught my attention this week. Leishman has only the 55th highest salary but the 23rd best odds to win according to Vegas. These are the type of mismatches that we look for to exploit in DFS. Leishman has played well recently with 5 straight Top-25s. He doesn’t have a ton of history on this course, but he is in good form and provides salary relief if you’re looking to play someone in the $11,000 range.
Good luck to everyone this week. Follow along on Twitter @MattJonesTFR for updates as the week progresses.