On Super Bowl Weekend, the golf world gets a tournament with a Super Bowl vibe. This week, the PGA Tour plays one of its most popular tournaments. It’s the 2023 WM Phoenix Open from TPC Scottsdale. As always, here is your early deep dive into the 2024 WM Phoenix Open and a preview of how to bet.
2024 WM Phoenix Open Preview
The 2023 WM Phoenix Open had elevated status. As such, it boasted one of the strongest fields on the PGA Tour. This season, however, not only does the event not carry a Signature status, it’s sandwiched between two Signature events.
But while the field isn’t as strong as last season, the 2024 edition of the WM Phoenix Open still has several big names.
Highlighting the field is two-time defending champion Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler won in a playoff over Patrick Cantlay for his first victory on the PGA Tour in 2022. Last season, he narrowly fended up an upset bid in Nick Taylor to capture his second straight WM Phoenix Open. He’ll try and go for the three-peat in 2024.
Other notables in the field include Sam Burns, Matt Fitzpatrick, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas.
For the full field, click here.
The Golf Course
The property of TPC Scottsdale holds two golf courses, both of which were co-designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. The entirety of the 2023 WM Phoenix Open will take place on the Stadium Course. This is a relief for gamblers who were tormented by multi-course formats the previous two weeks.
Most TPC golf courses are, frankly, not great. While well maintained and conditioned, architecturally, they’re pretty bland and dull. But for the most part, TPC Scottsdale offers a lot of fun holes, particularly when it plays firm and fast as it has for the last few years. It’s not a groundbreaking design. But the layout offers a ton of excitement.
For the most part, the front nine is pretty forgettable. Most of the holes are right out in front of the player and have clearly defined questions off the tee. Specifically, can players hit it long and straight and avoid the fairway bunkers or the surrounding desert? Do that, and it should set up for a management short to mid-iron into the green for a look at birdie.
But there are some very exciting holes once the back nine begins. On Hole 10, players will try and cut the corner as much as possible to give themselves a short wedge into the green. And the landing zone off the tee is borderline unfair on Hole No. 11.
Many balls the players think are perfect tee shots often bounce off the turf like they hit the concrete and trundle into the water. Water also comes into play on the Par 3 12th, which can shake things up as well.
But the golf course starts to get really interesting on the 15th. It’s a 553-yard Par 5 featuring an island green that’s reachable in two. While an island green is a bit gimmicky, it presents the first interesting feature of the golf course.
From the tee box, the golfers will begin to hear the madness reverberating from the grandstands of the 16th. They’ll need to tune out the noise and hit a solid tee shot. With water all down the left, it’s an intimidating visual. It’s also very important to card a birdie here if one wants to win the tournament.
After that is the infamous Par 3 16th. For 361 days of the year, it is a very non-descript hole. On its own, the hole is quite a stress-less endeavor. It plays as little as 115 yards and as much as 160 into a simple two-tiered green. Its defense is four greenside bunkers to present the only challenge.
But when you surround the hole with a giant frat party attended by 20,000 drunks who’ll boo if you miss the green, it makes the tee shot a whole lot more nerve-wracking.
If you’re reading this article, you already know exactly what the 16th offers. So, instead of regurgitating the same clichés and jokes about the 16th that everyone will make, here’s a video from the guys at No Laying Up that accurately sums up the vibe:
For those who’d rather go watch golf instead of taking funnels of Miller Light from sunup to sundown, the place to be is the Par 4 17th. This is the best and most exciting hole on the golf course. It’s a high-risk, high-reward hole where tournaments are won and lost.
In the past, pros would be faced with the option of driving the green or laying up short of the center-line bunker. But in 2023, almost everyone can get to the front of the green with a 3 wood. Still, this isn’t a guaranteed birdie hole. Players that end up on the right side of the green face a tough up and down from a collection area. Many players have seen their tournament end by hitting their tee shot into the water on the left.
The 17th is also the scene for the only hole-in-one on a Par 4 in PGA Tour history:
The tournament wraps up at the 442-yard 18th. It’s a dog-legged left Par 4 with water down the left side. This is a very common template for a finishing hole at TPC golf courses:
This hole is intimidating to mere mortals. Hugging the left side of the fairway is a large water hazard, with church pew bunkers looming just past it. To the right are a trio of fairway bunkers.
But for the PGA Tour, these guys can take almost all of these out of play. At altitude, most players can fly past these hazards off the tee. And it takes a gross mishit to wind up in the penal church bunkers on the left side. This closing hole has a lot more bark than bite.
Overall, though, TPC Scottsdale has a fantastic collection of finishing holes. There are a lot of things that can happen on the back nine to swing the tournament wildly. It’s not just the raucous atmosphere that makes the tournament great.
The opportunities to score as well as flame out in spectacular fashion make this tournament exciting almost every single year.
To begin the 2024 WM Phoenix Open Preview, here is general information about TPC Scottsdale.
Yardage: 7,261 Yards
Average Green Size: 7,069 sq. feet
- TPC Scottsdale features above-average-sized greens.
- Greens: Poa Trivialis/Perennial Ryegrass Overseed
- Collars & Approaches: Bentgrass, Poa Trivialis, and Fine Fescue Overseed
- Fairways: Perennial Ryegrass/Fine Fescue Overseed
- Rough: Perennial Ryegrass/Fine Fescue Overseed
The greens at TPC Scottsdale are slightly different than other overseeded golf courses featured on the PGA Tour. Most are typically just overseeded with poa trivialis.
The greens at TPC Scottsdale, however, also contain some perennial ryegrass in the overseed. Considering the color of Waste Management’s logo as well as the recycling initiatives, the ryegrass helps make the golf course vibrantly green.
- 2023: Scottie Scheffler (-19)
- 2022: Scottie Scheffler (-16, Playoff)
- 2021: Brooks Koepka (-19)
- 2020: Webb Simpson (-17, Playoff)
- 2019: Rickie Fowler (-17)
- 2023: -0.28
- 2022: -0.77
- 2021: -1.69
The scoring at TPC Scottsdale can vary based on climate and turf conditions. In 2023, the golf course played super firm and was affected by some cold temperatures and wind the first two rounds. By Round 4, however, the winds laid down and the golf course played much easier than it had at the beginning of the tournament.
In normal conditions, however, the typical average score at TPC Scottsdale ranges from -0.90 to -1.25 per round. The golf course is scoreable if one is hitting it very well. But the golf course can certainly be punishing if one misses in the wrong spots.
Here is the predictive skillset chart for TPC Scottsdale (per DataGolf). This chart will preview what types of players should excel at the 2024 WM Phoenix Open.
One thing that stands out is how predictive total driving is at TPC Scottsdale. Not only do longer hitters generally fare well at TPC Scottsdale as opposed to the average PGA Tour golf course, but so do accurate ones.
For starters, TPC Scottsdale is a very driver-heavy golf course. As such, longer players who are very comfortable hitting driver over and over feel right at home at TPC Scottsdale.
However, there is a severe penalty for missing in the wrong spots off the tee. Since 2015, TPC Scottsdale has the 7th highest percentage of tee shots that incur a penalty stroke.
Much of this is due to the aforementioned 11th hole that features a borderline unfair fairway that allows the ball to bound into the water. But those who blast it into the desert run the risk of having an unplayable lie when their ball lands in a cactus bush.
As such, looking at Strokes Gained – Off-the-Tee is a great statistic to refer to pre-tournament because it’s very predictive of success at TPC Scottsdale.
And it shows in the types of winners the WM Phoenix Open has had. Players like Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, and Gary Woodland are tremendous drivers.
Second, putting carries a higher predictive power than the typical PGA Tour setup. The greens at TPC Scottsdale roll so well with the poa trivialis and rye overseeded greens.
As such, good putters who are confident with their pace and lines can pour in lots of putts at TPC Scottsdale. That’s part of the reason why TPC Scottsdale features some of the easiest putting conditions on the PGA Tour since 2015.
This predictive skillset chart is similar to the following golf courses on the PGA Tour (must be featured since 2020):
- Southern Hills CC (2022 PGA Championship)
- Bay Hill Club & Lodge (Arnold Palmer Invitational)
- Memorial Park Golf Course (Houston Open)
- Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West (part of American Express rotation)
- TPC Boston (Dell Technologies Championship)
- Oak Hill Country Club (2023 PGA Championship)
- TPC Deere Run (John Deere Classic)
- Olympia Fields North (2020/2023 BMW Championship)
- The Summit Club (2021 CJ Cup)
It should be noted that two-time defending champion Scottie Scheffler owns one win and six other top 5 finishes at this collection of golf courses. This is a great list to refer to for horses for courses.
Approach Shot Proximity
Here are the types of approach shots players will hit at TPC Scottsdale (per DataGolf). This will preview what types of approach shots players will hit at the 2024 WM Phoenix Open.
Last week at Pebble Beach was a test of short approach shots. Two weeks ago at Torrey Pines was primarily a test of long approach shots. This week at TPC Scottsdale, however, is a test of primarily mid-irons.
Typically, between 40% and 50% of the approach shots at TPC Scottsdale come from between 150-200 yards. That is significantly higher than the PGA Tour average. There are typically significantly fewer shots that come from under 150 yards and over 200 yards than the average PGA Tour golf course. Referring to performance from 150-200 yards is key to having success betting on the 2024 WM Phoenix Open.
Given the forecast for colder temperatures in Scottsdale this week, the expected proximity buckets might shift a bit longer. That means possibly a shot or two more from over 200 yards and fewer shots coming from under 150 yards. But for the most part, focusing on shots between 150-200 yards is key.
Follow the advice in this preview, and one should put together a solid DFS lineup and betting card for the 2024 WM Phoenix Open.