This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN
Winner's Share: $1.278M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Course: TPC Scottsdale
2018 champion: Gary Woodland
We begin this week's Value Picks not with fantasy, but with reality. After nearly three decades being the best golf analyst on TV, Johnny Miller is retiring. Whether you love him or you hate him – and it's apparent that many more love him than hate him – it's a sad day for all of golf. I won't get too deep here; that's not what we do in this space. But I also didn't want to not acknowledge Miller. It is weird that this is going down in Phoenix, at a Tour stop not normally under the NBC domain (it happens when CBS has the Super Bowl). It's also at once odd and understandable that Miller will step aside after the third round. He humbly does not want to detract from the finish of the tournament, though that would've made it a truly Super Sunday indeed. Instead, Paul Azinger will join Dan Hicks to close out the final 18 holes. 'Zinger is pretty darn good and, all things considered, is the best NBC could do once Miller decided to walk away. But Miller was and is the best. For those of a certain age, Miller also is remembered as the brash, golden-haired kid who shot 63 on a U.S. Open Sunday at Oakmont. He helped christen the go-for-it style of golf that lives on to this day and probably always will. We'll still see Miller thanks to his affiliation with the Safeway Open, but it's hardly enough after he has entertained us one way or another for the past 50 years.
As for the tournament, they call this event "The Greatest Show on Grass" and it's always the most raucous week on the PGA Tour calendar. More than 700,000 wild, screaming fans, some of whom might've even had a cocktail or five, turned out last year, including 200,000-plus on Saturday. You can be sure they will come up with a fitting send-off for Miller, perhaps even at the course's epicenter, the rollicking par-3 16th, which itself houses some 16,000 fans in an amphitheater-like setting. Golfers are advised not to miss the green there, as they will face the mega-decibel music. The 16th is part of a fun four-hole finish that could result in big swings atop the leaderboard. The 15th is a reachable par-5, the 17th is a risk/reward drivable/water-filled par-4 and No. 18 is a 442-yarder with more water and church pew bunkers. TPC Scottsdale has played tougher since course designer Tom Weiskopf made some modifications after the 2014 tournament, and now it ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of difficulty. It really is a ball-strikers' track, and some pretty bad putters have won there in recent years. We'll delve deeper into that in the key stats and Champion's Profile below.
Miller gets only a so-so field for his finale: Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Jon Rahm and defending champion Gary Woodland headline an uncluttered 132-man field. That's 24 fewer bottom-dwellers from last week, and that should create a somewhat easier path to filling out your lineup. We'll see whether Woodland can match Miller, a back-to-back winner of this event in 1974 and '75 at Phoenix Country Club.
Weather-wise, the forecast is getting dicier as we draw closer to the tournament, so keep an eye out. There was a small chance of rain on Thursday and Friday, but it could get pretty raw and wet on Saturday. Temperatures will also cool on the weekend, and there can be some chilly mornings all four days.
Key Stats to Winning at TPC Scottsdale
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Ball striking/strokes gained: tee to green
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Scrambling /strokes gained: around the green
2018 - Gary Woodland
2017 - Hideki Matsuyama
2016 - Hideki Matsuyama
2015 - Brooks Koepka
2014 - Kevin Stadler
2013 - Phil Mickelson
2012 - Kyle Stanley
2011 - Mark Wilson
2010 - Hunter Mahan
2009 - Kenny Perry
If Matsuyama won twice and Stadler – Kevin Stadler! – won in 2014, how important can putting be? Not very. Among the last eight winners, only Mickelson, in his record-setting 2013 win, was top-10 in putting average. Since the Weiskopf changes, Mickelson's winning score (28-under-par) has been cut almost in half. Woodland has been the lowest of the bunch since then, shooting 18-under. This week will be all about ball striking and greens in regulation. And if the golfers miss the green, then we'll see how well they scramble. A long list of ball strikers has won here. Woodland was fourth in GIR last year, Matsuyama was ranked first and second in his back-to-back wins and Koepka was fourth. Every winner this decade has been top-10 in GIR.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Jon Rahm - $11,500 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 7-1)
In three trips to TPC Scottsdale, including as an amateur in 2015, Rahm never finished worse than 16th. Imagine finishing fifth in your second PGA event! That's what Rahm did, while still in school at Arizona State. The only concern we have about Rahm is that he will be in action for the fourth time in five weeks. But he's finished top-10 in his past three outings, and this field is weak enough for him to do it again even without his A-game.
Hideki Matsuyama - $10,700 (12-1)
It's hard to sidestep a guy who, other than when he had to withdraw due to injury, has never finished worse than fourth in this event. Matsuyama had to pull out last year as the two-time defending champion. And after a largely lost 2017-18 season, the Japanese star showed a lot last week, finishing third at Torrey Pines. Both tracks are similar in that they require solid ball striking but not putting so much. Which is why Matsuyama has thrived in the Arizona desert.
Xander Schauffele - $10,100 (18-1)
There really is no glaring weakness in Schauffele's game. He is first on Tour in strokes gained: total, 12th in SG: tee-to-green and fifth in putting. He played TPC Scottsdale for the first time a year ago and tied for 17th. Last week, Schauffele tied for 25th at his hometown Torrey Pines. That may not sound like much, but it was a huge improvement over three straight years of trunk slams.
Webb Simpson - $9,700 (20-1)
It's really hard to bypass defending champion Gary Woodland. But we feel just a little more confident in Simpson, and he comes at a slightly lesser price. Simpson missed the cut a year ago, but he was runner-up the year before, giving him four top-10s in this event this decade. Simpson is ranked 15th on Tour in SG: tee-to-green and an even better fifth in SG: approach.
Tier 2 Values
Rickie Fowler - $9,400 (20-1)
Fowler finished 11-4-2 here the past three years, with another runner-up way back in 2010. At the No. 8 guy on the DK board – and $1,000 cheaper than he was last year here – this is a green-light special. Fowler got the rust off last week after a pretty barren fall season that featured only two starts (three, if you want to include the Hero World Challenge). So there aren't many measured rounds to properly gauge his season-long stats. But despite finishing T66 at Torrey, Fowler was 18th in the field in strokes gained: off the tee.
Phil Mickelson - $9,300 (20-1)
Mickelson has played less this season than Fowler, but that didn't stop him from finishing co-runner-up two weeks ago at the Desert Classic. And now Mickelson comes to another successful track, and it's a home game of sorts for the former Arizona State star. Mickelson finished 5-16-11 the past three years, and he won it all at 28-under back in 2013.
Matt Kuchar - $9,200 (25-1)
Kuchar is coming off a tie for fifth here last year and T9 the year before, and his game wasn't anywhere near where it is right now. Further, both of those were in his first event of the year. He has already played twice in Hawaii and claimed victory once. For Kuchar, it's been all about his iron play, as he's ranked fourth in greens in regulation, plus 30th in strokes gained: tee-to-green. He's always been a good scrambler, and he's currently ranked eighth in that department.
Cameron Champ - $8,300 (50-1)
Champ has certainly come back to earth in 2019 after an eye-popping fall season. He was cut loose via the modified cut at Waialae and missed the cut altogether last week at Torrey Pines. Now, Champ will take a shot at a track that should largely suit his game. He of course hits it far, but he's also pretty accurate, ranking 26th in greens in regulation. Plus he's 36th in strokes gained: putting. It's when he misses the green that trouble brews – he's 200th in scrambling.
Tier 3 Values
Keegan Bradley - $7,800 (50-1)
Bradley has four top-25s in seven trips to TPC Scottsdale, but the past two years produced disappointing results. In the past, he has said he loves this track, where he can "pound" the driver. He'll have to do that this week. Because after showing flashes of an improved flat stick late last season, notably in his win at the BMW Championship, Bradley is back to sub-freezing levels, outside the top-200 in strokes gained: putting. He continues to display a strong game otherwise, ranking 41st in strokes gained: tee-to-green and 61st in scrambling.
Abraham Ancer - $7,700 (60-1)
Under most circumstances, we would turn away from a guy playing a fourth straight event, but Ancer missed the cut last week, giving him a bit of a breather. Ancer had four top-25s in his first six starts, and it's easy to see why: He's ranked eighth in strokes gained: off the tee, 28th in tee to green, fourth in scrambling and even a decent 71st in strokes gained: putting.
Brendan Steele - $7,400 (80-1)
At age 35, we're starting to see some real slippage in Steele's game. But that was the case last year, too, and he tied for third here, giving him four top-6 cashes in the past seven Phoenix Opens. A closer look at Steele's numbers shows he still can deliver with the driver, as he ranks sixth in strokes gained: off-the-tee. He is also ranked 20th in greens in regulation. Steele's big troubles arise when he misses the green, as he has been horrible at both chipping and putting. At this price, though, we don't need another top-6 – a top-25 would deliver.
Lucas Glover - $7,200 (60-1)
Glover makes the cut most of the time he plays here, but he doesn't have so much as a top-25 to show for it. And that's odd, because he is so good tee to green, ranking third on Tour in greens in regulation and ninth in strokes gained: tee-to-green. On top of that, Glover is ranked second in scrambling. All of that is too good to pass up taking a flyer on Glover, especially at this price.
Joel Dahmen - $6,800 (125-1)
We liked Dahmen last week and he delivered a top-10. So here we go again. He has improved his position five straight events dating to November. We know there's not too much better to go after a T9 at Torrey Pines, but at this curiously low price, we don't need anything near that to make this a successful pick. Dahmen is ranked 38th in strokes gained: off-the-tee, thanks in large part to laser-like accuracy, and he's 36th in scrambling. Last week, Dahmen was second in the 156-man field in putting.
Trey Mullinax - $6,700 (150-1)
Mullinax began his season with three straight missed cuts. He's now made four cuts in a row, improving every week, including a T25 at the Farmers Insurance Open. The 26-year-old Alabaman is one of the Tour's longer hitters and stands 62nd in strokes gained: tee-to-green. Mullinax is also ranked 68th in greens in regulation. That's not among the best but, again, we're talking about a cheap play here.
James Hahn - $6,400 (Field, 14-1)
Hahn has three top-20s in six visits to TPC Scottsdale, including a personal best T11 last year. This season, Hahn has struggled. He's made 6-of-8 cuts, but none of them has been a top-25. That's attributable to terrible putting as much as anything, since Hahn is ranked 76th in strokes gained: tee to green and is top-50 in greens in regulation.
Anders Albertson - $6,300 (150-1)
His name sounds a bit Nordic but ... not even close ... Albertson is from Texas. The rookie has proven to be among the more accurate from the fairway so far this season, ranking 12th in strokes gained: approach, 26th in strokes gained: tee to green and 27th in greens in regulation. Albertson's scrambling has hurt him, so it's imperative he has his iron game going this week.