WM Phoenix Open picks 2024: It's chalky, but we're riding with Justin Thomas
It's been slim pickings so far on the outright winner front for us so far in 2024. That's due to change this week at the WM Phoenix Open, where this panel has historically done some of its finest work.
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That's not just lip service, either. Last year Brandon Gdula correctly predicted Scottie Scheffler's victory at TPC Scottsdale, and yours truly nailed Scheffler's win the year before and Brooks Koepka's victory the year before that. The Arizona desert has been kind to us, to say the least.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2024 WM Phoenix Open.
WM Phoenix Open picks 2024: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Sahith Theegala (35-1, DraftKings) — He finished second to start the year and cooled down a little the last three weeks. So his value at 35-1 seems like a chance to get rich. He is one of the best players on the planet and thrives off good vibes (finished third here in 2022). I expect a good week.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Justin Thomas (10-1, DraftKings) — This feels like the chalk pick of the century, but here we are. JT’s recent from coupled with his event history is pretty hard to ignore. He could have won at Pebble if he’d just made a few putts Saturday, finishing as just one of two players inside the top 20 who lost strokes on the green for the two rounds at Pebble Beach. Thomas has played in Phoenix every year since 2015 and hasn’t finished worse than T-17 in any of the past six seasons.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Byeong Hun An (28-1, FanDuel) — Byeong Hun An has a lot of distance off the tee, which can help at TPC Scottsdale, and his putter has really had a reversal. While that can be an indicator of luck, An’s putting splits from within 15 feet are very good. He’s top 10 this year from five-to-15 feet on Tour.
Keith Stewart, Read The Line: Justin Thomas (10-1, DraftKings) — I watched Justin Thomas out on the Monterey Peninsula last week for multiple days. Before the weather blew away the final round, JT was ranked second in strokes gained tee-to-green. My club pro eyes could not mistake his arm speed delivery and the consistent control he showed attacking the smallest greens on tour. Thomas has four top-10 finishes in his last five starts at TPC Scottsdale. In the press room yesterday, Justin shared how much the Ryder Cup captain’s pick and experience rebuilt his confidence. If a Ryder Cup crowd gets JT going, I believe the WMPO crazies will catapult his comeback to PGA Tour career win number 16.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Justin Thomas (10-1, DraftKings) — I’ve seen enough from JT. Coming off a T-3 at the AMEX and a T-6 at Pebble, I’m ready to back him here. JT is third in strokes gained per round at TPC Scottsdale, per RickRunGood.com—powered by four top-10 finishes in his past five starts here. He gained nearly two and a half strokes on approach in two measured rounds at Pebble Beach but putted awfully. His putting numbers at TPC Scottsdale are actually quite good, ranking in the top 20 in this field in his career, per Fantasy National, so I’m optimistic about him making enough birdies and limiting mistakes here. It’s time.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Hideki Matsuyama (50-1, BetMGM) — I mean, what are we doing here? He’s won the event twice and has five other finishes of 16th or better. TPC Scottsdale is the ultimate horse for the course track on tour and there is no better horse to run with in the desert than Deki. Hell, he top-30'd here last year despite losing nearly five strokes on approach (!). He could contend here in his sleep, and it’s not like he’s coming in on poor form, just two weeks removed from a 13th at Torrey. Unless he has one of those secret injuries only the Japanese media knows about, you’d be foolish to not take a shot on him at 50-1 this week.
Andy Lack, Run Pure Sports and Inside Golf podcast: Justin Thomas (10-1, DraftKings) — We all knew the 2024 Justin Thomas renaissance was coming, but I did not imagine it would come to fruition so quickly. Thomas has recorded back-to-back top-six finishes to begin the season, and he travels to what has been a very comfortable spot for him over the years in TPC Scottsdale. In nine appearances at the Weiskopf design, Thomas has recorded seven top-20 finishes, four top 10s, and three top fives, including a third and an eighth in his last two appearances. The only glaring hole in his Scottsdale resume is a victory. I expect that to change this week.
Past results: As successful as last season was for this panel, it’s time to turn the page to 2024, when we plan on cashing just as many, if not more, outright winners. We’re also pleased to welcome our newest expert picker, Keith Stewart of Read The Line, to the panel. Keith replaces the great Rick Gehman, who we’ll miss dearly. Good luck to all. Let’s have a year.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "The Loop," (below) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "The Loop" wherever you get your podcasts!
WM Phoenix Open picks 2024: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Thomas Detry (80-1, BetRivers) — Fresh off a great result at Pebble last week and a top 20 at Torrey, his form is hard to argue. He is the highest world ranking in his career and is carrying some confidence. He drives the ball great, so this course should set up well for him.
Mayo: Tom Hoge (90-1, DraftKings) — Hoge enters having gained on approach in eight straight and does have two top-25 finishes in Phoenix over the last four years. If triple-digit winners keep hitting, gotta take a few, right? Plus, the casino is super close to the course, so he’ll have no problem getting his winnings on to the felt if he can find a way to come through Sunday.
Gdula: Adam Hadwin (50-1, FanDuel) — Hadwin’s a good course fit statistically, and he finished top 10 here last year with a great all-around showing. The putter is a key strength of his, but lately, the irons are trending up in a big way.
Stewart: Si Woo Kim (60-1, Bet365) — Since the start of 2024, I have been watching Si Woo closely. The super South Korean ball-striker always competes well early in the season. Last week at Pebble Beach, he finished third in SG/tee-to-green just behind Thomas. Kim gained almost three shots on approach over just three rounds. Approach play is a differentiating skill in the desert. I know the putter can always be a question mark, but he gained over five strokes last year on the greens at TPC Scottsdale. Let’s be honest, if Scheffler can win here with his putter, Si Woo can too.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Alex Noren (90-1, Bet365) — The Swede has been building toward his first PGA Tour win over the past few months. He finished third at TPC Summerlin, a great comp course, and nearly won in Bermuda to end 2023. He has started 2024 with three solid starts, and I like that he’s gained the 10th most strokes on a per round basis at TPC Scottsdale, per RickRunGood.com. Birdie-making is Noren’s jam, and I like his chances to get hot here.
Powers, Golf Digest: Rickie Fowler (70-1, Bet365) — I’ll ask you again, what are we doing here? This is the No. 1 spot on the schedule where course history legitimately matters. Before finally winning here in 2019, Fowler had a pair of runner-ups and three other finishes in the top 13 to his name. He added another top 10 last year during his comeback tour, too. The reason he’s 70-1, I gather, is that it’s been a slow start to 2024 for Rick, especially on the greens. Good news is he knows the greens at TPC Scottsdale quite well.
Lack: Corey Conners (60-1, FanDuel) — I have always loved this golf course for Corey Conners due to his elite total driving and middle-iron play. While the Canadian has yet to really pop this season, he’s quietly been playing better golf than his results would suggest. Now he returns to a course where he has gained strokes ball-striking in every appearance, and the three-time PGA Tour winner has quietly also found a great deal of success on this specific type of over-seeded putting surface.
WM Phoenix Open picks 2024: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Scottie Scheffler (+450, DraftKings) — It’s probably dumb to fade someone who finishes in the top 10 every week, is the best player in the world, and has won here twice in a row, but hear me out. Three-peating is hard, and also with softer greens this week, putting will be more important than usual. Not Scottie’s strong suit.
Mayo: Sam Burns (20-1, DraftKings) — With all the WDs Burns’ odds have plummeted to the point where he’s among the players without some of the glaring weaknesses he possesses. Burns can always get hot enough with his putter to overachieve, but his lack of consistent tee-to-green play at a course which demands it year-over-year is scary enough to pass at these odds.
Gdula: Jordan Spieth (18-1, FanDuel) — I never like rooting against Spieth, but he is doing a lot of his work lately with the around-the-green play. That’s not the most key area this week, and it’s also not the most sustainable. The number is just a bit too short.
Stewart: Sungjae Im (28-1, BetMGM) — DraftKings listed Sungjae’s odds at 22-1 this weekend prior to WM Phoenix Open week. Of the favorites, his odds to win have decreased the most. Some books already have him at 33-1. Im finished 66th in an 80-man field last week and missed the cut at the Farmers the week before. His previous success on the West Coast is well-documented, so struggling where you are most comfortable is never a good sign. I only watched a couple swings in Monterey and I can back up the analytics, Sungjae is currently searching.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Min Woo Lee (30-1, DraftKings) — I have no doubt that Min Woo will embrace the party atmosphere in Phoenix, but contending to win in his first appearance would be quite the statement. He’s one of the favorites I’d target in matchups.
Powers, Golf Digest: J.T. Poston (28-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — As much as I respect Poston and Benny An’s games, their names feel out of place in this section of the odds board. He also finally seemed to cool off a bit in the ball-striking department at Pebble.
Lack: Byeong Hun An (25-1, DraftKings) — I love Byeong Hun An just as much as everyone else, but the pendulum has unfortunately swung too far. An has been steamed down in the betting markets to one of the tournament favorites, which I do not believe to be justified. Despite some solid play to begin the season, I still have major questions about An’s middle-iron play and putting ability. I’m happy to hold off this week and pounce on my opportunity at a more appealing price tag.
WM Phoenix Open picks 2024: Matchups
Caddie: Justin Thomas (+160) over Scottie Scheffler (DraftKings) — I’m only picking this because getting JT at +160 to only beat one guy is unbelievable value. Anyone who follows golf knows a 1v1 is a crap shoot, so getting one of the world’s best players at that price seems to be worth it.
Mayo: Adam Scott (+100) over Eric Cole (DraftKings) — Cole’s been great, sure. But at a ball-striker's paradise like TPC Scottsdale, Scott is the play.
Gdula: Brendon Todd (-115) over Austin Eckroat (FanDuel) — Todd has putted well at TPC Scottsdale in his career, and his approach play has trended up in a noticeable way since the summer. Eckroat’s advantage with driver isn’t enough here, so I’m siding with Todd.
Stewart: Eric Cole (-110) over Cameron Young (BetMGM) — Eric Cole is coming off a stretch of nine top-25 finishes in his last 11 starts. In his last 10 events, he’s gaining an average of 6+ strokes on the field in total strokes-gained. Cole is an excellent mid-iron player and putter, two skills that will separate you at TPC Scottsdale. Cameron Young has been losing strokes versus the field in his last five events. I really saw him struggle last week and he’s lost strokes on approach in five of his last six Shotlink events.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sungjae Im (-120) over Tom Kim (DraftKings) — Though Tom Kim has only one start at TPC Scottsdale, it wasn’t particularly great—finishing T-50 and losing strokes for the week. Sungjae, on the other hand, is fourth in this field in terms of SG/TPC Scottsdale, gaining 1.815 strokes here.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sahith Theegala (+100) over Matt Fitzpatrick (DraftKings) — One bad round last Saturday is making Fitzpatrick’s start to 2024 look a lot worse than it’s been. Still, Theegala just seems to be in far better form and we know how close he came here in 2022.
Lack: Si Woo Kim (-130) over Kurt Kitayama (DraftKings) — Si Woo Kim is quietly playing some great golf lately, which includes a 14th-place finish last week at Pebble Beach where he gained over three strokes on approach. The former Players champion has also experienced a tremendous amount of success on desert golf courses and recorded back-to-back top-30 finishes in his last two appearances at TPC Scottsdale. I have far less faith in Kitayama, who lacks accuracy off the tee and putting upside for me to truly trust him in this spot.
Matchup Results from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Gdula: 1 for 1 (Scheffler (-120) over McIlroy); Mayo: 1 for 1 (Hossler (-110) over Hojgaard); Lack: 1 for 1 (Fitzpatrick (+100) over Im); Hennessey: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1; Caddie: 0 for 1; Stewart: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Gdula: 4-0-1 (up 3.52 units); Mayo: 4-1-0 (up 2.87 units); Hennessey: 3-1-1 (up 1.48 units); Lack 3-2-0 (up 1.26 units); Powers: 3-2-0 (up 0.97 units); Caddie: 2-2-0 (down 0.34 units); Stewart: 2-3-0 (down 1.14 units)
WM Phoenix Open picks 2024: Top 10s
Caddie: Min Woo Lee (+300, DraftKings) — Is there really a better vibe of a tournament than the Waste Management that matches Min Woo Lee’s energy? He oozes swag and loves a good time… so I think he feeds off that this week.
Mayo: Sahith Theegala (+350, DraftKings) — This was Sahith’s tournament to win in 2022 before an untimely trip into the water on 17. I’ve been betting Theegala in preparation for the big breakthrough, and this seems like as good of a spot as any. His wild driver has played here in both starts, and he’s gaining over a stroke per round on the greens over his eight rounds of competitive play. I do slightly worry he suffers a bit from Tommy Fleetwood syndrome where one bad round takes him out contention from winning, but the odds are deep enough to give him another whirl.
Gdula: Harris English (+800, FanDuel) — This is a big number for a top-10 finish for English. He hasn’t had the best irons lately, but his putting is there and is well-supported with underlying data. English has played this event a lot, and he’s starting to stabilize after his layoff.
Stewart: Justin Thomas (+175, BetRivers) — What’s wrong with a little compounding interest? We all agree this week is set up perfect for Justin Thomas. Thomas has four top-eight finishes in the last five years because he plays aggressively at TPC Scottsdale and doesn’t get limited on the greens. Since September, JT has finished fifth, fourth, third, third, and sixth. He’s gaining over seven strokes on average against the field in his last five starts.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sahith Theegala (+350, FanDuel) — This will be a popular one after the near-victory last year, but I still love the number in a weaker top-half of the field, and the fact TPC Scottsdale’s width off the tee will excuse some of his wild drives.
Powers, Golf Digest: Mark Hubbard (+650, DraftKings) — Hubbard has very quietly finished 20th and fourth the last two weeks. Over the last 24 rounds, per Fantasy National, he’s the 10th-best approach player in this field. If he brings that hot putter with him that he had at Pebble, he should be hanging around late on Sunday.
Lack: Hideki Matsuyama (+360, DraftKings) — TPC Scottsdale possesses some of the most correlated course history on the entire PGA Tour, and it should not come as a surprise that 60 percent of Phoenix Opens over the last decade have been won by just three players. One of those players is Hideki Matsuyama, who presents tremendous value in the betting market this week. The former Masters champion’s combination of elite total driving and middle-iron play always makes him a threat on this track.
Top-10 results from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am: Everybody: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Gdula: 2 for 5 (up 5.5 units); Hennessey: 1 for 5 (up 0.5 units); Powers: 1 for 5 (down 2.1 units); Caddie: 0 for 5 (down 5 units); Mayo: 0 for 5 (down 5 units); Stewart: 0 for 5 (down 5 units); Lack: 0 for 5 (down 5 units)
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for numberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.
Keith Stewart is a five-time award-winning PGA professional, a betting contributor for Golf Digest and founder of Read The Line, the premier on-site live golf betting insights service covering the LPGA and PGA TOUR. Subscribe to Read The Line’s weekly newsletter here and raise your golf betting acumen. Keith's winning content can also be found on Sports Grid, Bleacher Report and The Sporting News. Follow him on Twitter @readtheline_.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also the head of golf content for Run Pure Sports, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for RickRunGood.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports