Waste Management Phoenix Open DFS picks 2022: Brooks Koepka's stats don't lie
We are finally out of “course-rotation season” and head to TPC Scottsdale for the 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open. With large, raucous crowds, it’s always a spectacle that serves as a perfect appetizer to the Super Bowl.
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The Waste Management always boasts a solid field—but 18 of the top 30 players of the world are here this year, making it the best field of the year. That also means some gems can be found in the $8,000 and $7,000 range with the top tier of players taking the higher price tags. Let’s find some value and help you build some winning lineups.
TPC Scottsdale is a par-71 layout, with only three par 5s and plenty of risk-reward holes coming down the stretch. It’s never a surprise to see a late leader board shake-up at the conclusion of this event—like last year when Brooks Koepka caught James Hahn. Speaking of Koepka, he’s a two-time champion here. How do you treat him? I’ll explain below why the metrics are pointing in favor of fading the four-time major champion this week.
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Here are my favorite plays and fades this week at the 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open.
Price range: $9,000 and above
High Upside: Viktor Hovland ($10,200 DraftKings | $11,700 FanDuel)
Viktor Hovland is on fire—winning three times in his last five starts worldwide. In the past 20 rounds, only Patrick Cantlay has been better than Hovland, and they are the only two golfers in this field gaining two-plus strokes per round in that stretch. He’s on a heater with no signs of slowing down.
Safest Option: Scottie Scheffler ($9,100 DraftKings | $11,000 FanDuel)
Though Scheffler hasn’t won yet, he’s been a staple at the top of the leader board. He has five top-25 finishes in his past six starts, including three straight. He’s solid across the board, gaining strokes in all four major categories in his past 24 rounds, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He finished T-7 at this event last year and seems to be playing the best golf of his career right now.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Brooks Koepka ($9,400 DraftKings | $11,200 FanDuel)
Fading the defending champion, especially when it’s Brooks Koepka, is terrifying. However, the metrics are dismal. He’s lost strokes to the field in five of his past seven starts. During that stretch, he’s lost strokes on approach four times and has lost off-the-tee in three straight. It “feels” like he’s been close recently, but the results don’t back it up.
Pick To Win: Justin Thomas ($11,000 DraftKings | $11,900 FanDuel)
Thomas is in the midst of a remarkable stretch of golf right now. He’s gained strokes to the field in 22 consecutive events, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. That stretch dates back to the Genesis Invitational of last year, so nearly a full year without losing strokes in a single event. That high floor is thanks to his elite approach play, gaining strokes in that category for 15 consecutive events. And speaking of streaks, he’s in the midst of four straight top-20 finishes in Phoenix, with little reason to think that’ll stop this week.
$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Bubba Watson ($9,000 DraftKings | $10,200 FanDuel)
Watson has done everything but win at TPC Scottsdale. Over his 15 starts at this event, he has six top-10 finishes and has only missed the cut twice. Now he’s fresh off a great result in Saudi Arabia, where he finished birdie-eagle on Sunday to finish one shot behind Harold Varner III. There’s no better place for Watson to continue his momentum than here in Scottsdale.
Safest Option: Webb Simpson ($8,600 DraftKings | $10,700 FanDuel)
We have a perception versus reality issue with Webb Simpson right now. Perception is that he is coming off his worst season in a decade and is no longer a top-tier PGA Tour player. Reality is that, despite a sub-par year, he finished 12th in strokes gained/total last season, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. Now he’s starting to return to form and heads to Phoenix, where he has five top-10s (including a win) in his past nine trips.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Harris English ($8,000 DraftKings | $9,700 FanDuel)
Once a solid, consistent fantasy option, English has become much more volatile as of late. He’s lost strokes to the field in seven straight events and is losing strokes in both ball-striking categories. Combine that with his three missed cuts in the past four years at the event, and I’ll find different investments this week.
Pick To Win: Louis Oosthuizen ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,600 FanDuel)
Kevin C. Cox
Eighty-one days … that’s how long it’s been since we’ve seen Oosthuizen tee it up anywhere in the world. The most recent sighting was a WD at the RSM Classic, his final start of 2021. I implore you to zoom out on Oosthuizen and look a bit further. Over the last 50 rounds, he’s gaining 1.45 strokes per round to the field—only Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay and Seamus Power have been better. In two trips to TPC Scottsdale, he has a T-11 and a third-place finish. I’m willing to trust Oosthuizen and take a bit of a flier on him this week.
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Russell Knox ($7,300 DraftKings | $8,200 FanDuel)
Knox has teed it up six times in Scottsdale, finishing inside the top 20 in half of those starts. His “math problem” is very simple—putt slightly above average and contend. That’s what he did at the Sony Open, where he gained just 1.58 strokes putting over four rounds and finished T-7. Though Knox is a small loser on Bermudagrass greens in his career, he’s gained strokes on the surface in five of his past nine starts.
Safest Option: Matt Kuchar ($7,400 DraftKings | $9,300 FanDuel)
Kuchar missed the cut last week at Pebble Beach, failing to play the weekend for the first time this season. Kuchar is showing a much more well-rounded statistical profile this season than he did last year, when he was wholly reliant on the putter. Now he heads to the friendly confines of TPC Scottsdale, where he has five top-20 finishes in his past nine trips. He’s lost strokes tee-to-green only once during that stretch.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Abraham Ancer ($7,900 DraftKings | $10,300 FanDuel)
Ancer finished T-8 in Saudi Arabia last week, his best finish of the calendar year. Now he has to make the trek back to Scottsdale, a course that does not showcase his strengths. He ranks 182nd on tour this season in SG/total, and he’s outside the top 150 in strokes gained/approach and SG/around the green. Ancer’s slow start to the season has me taking a more cautious approach.
Pick To Win: Talor Gooch ($7,800 DraftKings | $10,000 FanDuel)
I could argue that Gooch is the most mispriced golfer on the slate. Over the past 40 rounds, only Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay and Viktor Hovland have gained more strokes per round than Gooch. The average price of those three? $10,833. Gooch is $3,000 cheaper and has only had one bad start in six months. At a course that rewards approach play, Gooch is the guy.
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$6,900 and below
High Upside: Sepp Straka ($6,400 DraftKings | $7,700 FanDuel)
Straka is off to a great start in 2022, making all three cuts and earning a T-16 at the Farmers in his most recent start. This year, he’s gained strokes on approach in all three events and has even improved his putter to respectable levels. If he’s found something, he’s capable of making noise this week at TPC Scottsdale.
Safest Option: Doug Ghim ($6,600 DraftKings | $8,000 FanDuel)
Ghim’s style of play is volatile, but his results have been consistent. He’s made the cut in seven straight events, something that the vast majority of his peers cannot boast. We know he’s one of the better tee-to-green players in this range, but he’s also capable of having a few good putting rounds each week. He’s certainly someone to keep an eye on if his putter can catch fire.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Patrick Rodgers ($6,600 DraftKings |$7,900 FanDuel)
I’m terrified for Rodgers to make the trip to TPC Scottsdale. These fairways are difficult to hit (a field average of 59.45 percent), and Rodgers isn’t known for his accuracy off-the-tee. When playing desert golf and missing the fairway, you are at the mercy of luck much more frequently. Will you be behind a cactus? Up against a rock? Who knows! I’ll look to back Rodgers at a venue much more suitable to his strengths.
Pick To Win: Kramer Hickok ($6,400 DraftKings | $7,600 FanDuel)
In two starts this year, Hickok is looking more like the golfer who played well last summer. He’s gained strokes in both events, even though he missed the cut at The American Express (weird quirk of the three-course rotation). He’s also gained both off-the-tee and on approach in both events. He’s a high upside player when everything is clicking for him.
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Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.