Waste Management Phoenix Open: Lefty love-in can spark trophy bid
The PGA Tour moves to Arizona this week and Dave Tindall has three each-way picks for the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale...
"Analysing Phil's numbers in the Desert Classic and he ranked sixth for GIR (81.9%) and tied fifth for Par 4s (11-under)."
Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 7 places
Main Bet: Back Phil Mickelson each-way @ 22/1
This is a week where it's very easy to make strong cases for about 15 players.
It could well be that Jon Rahm simplifies everything by justifying favouritism at the course where he made the golf world sit up and take notice in 2015.
The Arizona resident has a massive chance but I'm happy to pass him by at 7/1.
Two-time winner Hideki Matsuyama rather blew his cover - and his price - with a big display at Torrey Pines last week but are we confident enough yet to back him at 12s?
Justin Thomas is Justin Thomas so must have a chance at a venue like TPC Scottsdale although course form of 17-MC-MC-17 is a little underwhelming.
But, I will pull the trigger on Phil Mickelson at 22s.
A very basic analysis is that he always seems to thrive at one of his favourite venues in the world of golf.
Mickelson went to college in Arizona and loves the electricity generated by the enormous and vocal crowds (biggest on Tour) here.
He's certainly given them plenty to shout about having won this in 1996, 2005 and 2013. There are numerous other top 10s in his record and the latest come last year when he landed the each-way cash again by finishing fifth.
He shot a second-round 65 in 2018 while he also delighted the wild weekend crowds with a 65 on Saturday in both 2017 (T16) and 2016 (T11) so the low rounds and good finishes keep coming.
But, beyond all that golden history, I really like what Mickelson is doing right now.
Just as he did when winning here in 2013, the five-time major champ opened with a ludicrous round of 60 on his last start.
That came at the Desert Classic where he led for three rounds before being pipped at the final hole by .... (googles name of winner)... Adam Long.
Looking at the stats that traditionally lead to success at TPC Scottsdale, two of the most important are Greens In Regulation and Par 4 Performance.
Analysing Phil's numbers in the Desert Classic and he ranked sixth for GIR (81.9%) and tied fifth for Par 4s (11-under).
And the latter was no one-off as Mickelson tops the 2019 Par 4 Scoring Average and, over a longer period, was 27th in that category last year.
The putter was a great weapon too for most of the week although it let him down on Sunday.
"I hit a lot of good shots today though but just couldn't get the ball to go in the hole," he reflected later.
The 48-year-old said, in a slight grump, that he was wasting his time playing certain courses these days and would focus on the ones where he knew he could thrive.
TPC Scottsdale is definitely near the top of the list and I expect another huge week.
Next Best: Back Chez Reavie each-way @ 50/1
I'm going to go for another player with local ties in Chez Reavie.
Reavie lives in Scottsdale and went to Arizona State so it was rather unusual that he'd made a bit of a mess of this tournament for so many years, doing almost nothing in nine attempts.
But then came 2018, rounds of 68-65-67-66 and a runner-up finish to Gary Woodland after losing a play-off.
Then again, it's not unprecedented for a player to click at a course where common sense suggests they should eventually crack.
Remember Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi? Four missed cuts out of five and then he won it back-to-back in 2017-2018.
Asked about what it would be like to win when he contended last year, the 37-year-old said: "It would be awesome. This is my home tournament, growing up here my whole life and coming to the tournament and carrying the sign board. So this is like the fifth Major for me, so I'm excited to be playing well."
Maybe he put too much pressure on himself previously. Or perhaps it's a simple as him being a better golfer now.
Players can wilt in front of these crowds but Reavie definitely used them to his advantage last year. "They were great," he said. "They're so fun and being a hometown guy, everyone's rooting me on. It's really a lot of fun.
Reavie, a good friend of Rahm's (they play at Whisper Rock together), will have plenty of confidence for his return.
The former Canadian Open winner has shot 12 straight rounds in the 60s at his last three events - T26 at Mayakoba, third at the Sony Open and T28 at the Desert Classic.
Also T7 in the CJ Cup in Korea in October, we know he'll hit a bunch of fairways and that will allow him to attack the greens.
Reavie ranks 4th in Strokes Gained: Approach-The-Green this season so just needs the putter to heat up to cash in on some strong iron play and make a real title challenge.
Take the very reasonable 50/1.
Best Outsider: Back Aaron Baddeley each-way @ 200/1
Imagine if there was a former winner in the field who finished T18 on his last start and was 200/1 to win.
Well, there is! That man is Aaron Baddeley.
The Aussie shot a pair of weekend 64s to lift the trophy in 2007 while he's had a couple of good recent efforts too with T17 in 2015 and T26 last year. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised given that he's another Scottsdale resident.
Baddeley only has conditional status on the PGA Tour but recent form is encouraging.
At the back end of last year he finished 26-24 in his final two PGA Tour events of the campaign and then followed it with a run of 24-16-17 on the Web.com.
On this season's PGA Tour, he's finished T4 in the Safeway Open after having to go through Monday qualifying and T18 in the Desert Classic two weeks ago when carding 71-68-68-65.
Pulling together selective evidence from those two events - come on, indulge me - Badds was ranked 1st in SG: Tee-To-Green in the Safeway and 1st in SG: Putting in the Desert Classic.
Something big could be brewing and as we're back on Bermuda greens, the hopes of a repeat performance with the blade have to be higher.
Speaking at the Safeway, he said: "My game's been feeling good for a while and I really felt like this was on the way, so I've been really working hard.
"Got to make some more putts, that's been the goal. I feel like this week I putted quite well overall, but the ball-striking just makes golf a lot easier."
We've always thought of Baddeley as a great putter so having topped the SGP charts a fortnight ago, he could be flowing with confidence on the greens and that makes him dangerous.
Dave's 2018/19 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)