It’s the greatest show on grass. It’s Super Bowl week, which also means that it’s time for the 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open. While it might not be the biggest or most prestigious tournament of the year, I believe it’s the most fun week in golf.

This week is the “common man” golf week on the PGA Tour. While hole 16 is usually a party hole with no use for quiet signs and the reason it is “The People’s Open”, I imagine this week will be a little less rowdy. The tournament chairman announced that they will be limiting the attendance to less than 5,000 fans each day of the week after 216,000+ attended the third round in 2020.

There are no three-time winners in the field this week, not even Arizona’s own Phil Mickelson. Though, there are two two-time winners in the field; J.B. Holmes won in 2006 and 2008 and Hideki Matsuyama won in 2016 and 2017.

It’s fair to expect a playoff this week, as four out of the last five editions of this tournament have ended in a playoff. Since 2016, the only year that did not include a playoff was when Rickie Fowler won in 2019 (a stressful win for Fowler fans).

Television Coverage

Round One

NBC Sports Gold Featured Groups/Featured Holes: 9:15 AM-7:00PM EST.

Golf Channel: 11:00 AM-7:00 PM EST.

Round Two

NBC Sports Gold Featured Groups/Featured Holes: 9:15 AM-7:00 PM EST.

Golf Channel: 3:00 PM-7:00 PM EST.

Round Three

NBC Sports Gold Featured Groups/Featured Holes: 10:45 AM-6:00 PM EST.

Golf Channel: 1:00 PM-3:00 PM EST.

NBC: 3:00 PM-6:00 PM EST.

Round Four

NBC Sports Gold Featured Groups/Featured Holes: 10:45 AM-6:00 PM EST.

Golf Channel: 1:00 PM-3:00 PM EST.

NBC: 3:00 PM-6:00 PM EST.

Players to Watch at the 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open

Here the top five favorites to win at the 2021 Waste Management Phoenix Open (Odds courtesy of BetMGM, as of 2/3/21).

Jon Rahm (+650)

Crowd favorite, and former Arizona State player, Jon Rahm is the favorite this week after six straight top 25 finishes and four straight top 10 finishes. Included in those top 10 finishes is three straight finishes in a tie for seventh place. Despite being one of the many players that loves hole 16, Rahm has only had one finish in the top five in 2015. With him playing his best golf, don’t be surprised if he can capture the trophy this year.

Justin Thomas (+900)

Justin Thomas hasn’t played since the beginning on January at the Sentry Tournament of Champions when he finished in third. It may have been best after Ralph Lauren dropped him as an athlete following his poor choice of words after missing a putt. Thomas returns this week and finished in third and tied in third in 2019 and 2020, so it’s no mystery why he is the second best favorite.

Rory McIlroy (+1000)

Rory McIlroy makes his Waste Management Phoenix Open debut this week, so there is no history of his performance on this course. Though, with four major wins, he can find success at any course. He had a strong start to his 2021 season, with a third place finish at the 2021 Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship on the European Tour and a tied 16th finish in his PGA Tour debut last week at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Xander Schauffele (+1000)

Xander Schauffele enters the week with two top five finishes in his last two starts; tied second at the Famers Insurance Open and tied fifth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. Schauffele has three straight top 25 finishes at this event, including a tied 16th, tied 10th, and tied 17th in 2020, 2019, and 2018, respectively.

Webb Simpson (+1600)

2020 champion Webb Simpson looks to win back-to-back championships for the first time since Hideki Matsuyama in 2016 and 2017. Prior to his win last year, Simpson had little success here, only finishing in the top five once after losing in a playoff in 2017. After a strong finish to 2020, Simpson started off the season with a top 25 finish and a top five finish in his last start in Hawaii.

The Course

TPC Scottsdale is a par-71 course that includes one of the best finishes on the PGA Tour. The course includes three par-fives, four par-threes, and the rest par-fours.

Included in the finish is a reachable par-five (if you hit the fairway) at the 15th.

Also in the finish the party hole par-three at the 16th. Be careful you don’t miss the green, the fans won’t hesitate to boo.

Without a big audience, I’m not sure if they will have the big stands this year. If not, we could have memories like Tiger Woods in 1997.

One of the last holes the players will see is a reachable par-four at the 17th. For a Fowler fan like myself, this hole is a mixed bag. In 2016, Fowler hit in the water and ultimately lost in a playoff. Though, in 2019, his contender for title had trouble on this as well, setting up a win.


Picks and Predictions

Pick of the Week: Rickie Fowler (+4000)

Oh, yeah! It’s time to become a two-time champion at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. In 2016, he lost in a playoff and in 2017 he finished in the top five. In 2019, though… he finally won. As a Fowler fan, it was a huge relief to finally capture the trophy, although he almost blew this one too.

Bet of the Week: Rory McIlroy to Finish Top 10 (+130)

Without any experience at this tournament, it is hard to predict how McIlroy will fair this week. Despite that, he’s had a strong start to 2021 and he’s still Rory McIlroy, so I still expect him to compete this week.

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Hunter Brown
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Hunter Brown

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