Waste Management Open Each-Way Tips: Back Kim at 28s followed by Fowler at 50s

Rickie Fowler PGA tour
2019 champion Rickie Fowler

The PGA Tour heads to Arizona where Tom Kim can make his mark at TPC Scottsdale, says Dave Tindall...


Main Bet: Tom Kim each-way @ 29.028/1

It's back to the desert for this week's PGA Tour action and the first thing to note is what a field!

In total, 22 of the world's top 25 head to TPC Scottsdale in Arizona, the host of this 91-year-old event since 1987.

There's a fairly obvious explanation why. Prize money has been raised to a whopping $20m, a result of the PGA Tour giving several events elevated status.

In return for sponsors paying the big bucks, the PGA guarantees them the game's top stars. Hence we have a line-up that looks as if it belongs to a major.

Talking of majors, this tournament produces winners of the highest quality. So much so that eight of the last 10 champions are major winners.

And yet, before we use that as a guide, there's an important caveat. Yes, that eight out of 10 stat is true when looking at a list today but five of those eight weren't major winners at the time of their victory in Phoenix, including Scottie Scheffler last year.

A better guide, perhaps, is players who look as if they might be future major winners and that's why I'm going with Tom Kim as my main pick.

The Korean youngster has taken the game by storm, becoming the first player to win twice on the PGA Tour before the age of 21 since Tiger Woods in 1996.

Back Tom Kim each-way @

29.0

This event has been won with an average winning score of just better than 17-under in the last six years so birdies are needed.

Kim's wins were achieved with 20-under at August's Wyndham Championship and 24-under at October's Shriners Children's Open in Las Vegas.

That latter win came in the desert, as did his sixth place in The American Express last time out so Kim seems to enjoy this type of scenery.

Yes, this is his tournament debut but he won first time out at both the Wyndham and the Shriners so that's hardly a concern.

Kim ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Tee To Green - a great pointer here - when fifth at the Sentry Tournament of Champions last month and was third in that category in his Vegas win.

Back the 20-year-old to triumph at 28/1.

Next Best: Rickie Fowler each-way @ 51.050/1

Rickie Fowler has been a popular punt in this event down the years.

He's given his backers their fare share of agony though and looked destined to be the tournament's nearly man after second places in 2010 and 2016 along with a fourth in 2017.

But in 2019, Fowler finally got it done, surviving a final-round wobble before claiming a two-shot victory over South African Branden Grace.

Along with that win, two seconds and a fourth, you'll find another pair of top 13s so this is definitely one of his favourite tournaments.

Fowler's slip down the world rankings has coincided with missed cuts here in 2021 and 2022 but he looks a far more interesting proposition this year.

In six starts this season, he's made five cuts and finished runner-up in the Zozo Championship, sixth at the Fortinet Championship and 11th at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago.

Bear in mind that Fowler's previous nine finishes at Torrey Pines were MC-53-MC-66-MC-MC-MC-61-MC so that 11th (ninth after 54 holes) may carry some extra significance.

Back Rickie Fowler each-way @

51.0

The big secret to his revival? Working with Butch Harmon again. Well, some new clubs too but it seems that Butch's magic presence has done wonders for Fowler's confidence.

Breaking down the numbers, Fowler was 8th for SG: Tee To Green at the Fortinet and 7th SGTTG in the CJ Cup. Last week at Torrey Pines, he ranked 10th for SG: Putting, the part of his game which none of us could quite understand why had faltered.

The raucous fans at this event, especially around the famous par-3 16th, aren't for everyone but Fowler loves the extra electricity.

"I mean it's a good atmosphere, I feel very comfortable here," he said a few years ago. "The Thunderbirds have been awesome to me, Waste Management's been awesome.

"I enjoy the golf course, you kind of play it however you want and I've kind of stuck to my game plan here. I'm looking forward to a rowdy crowd tomorrow afternoon. Definitely good vibes here in Scottsdale."

Harmon believes his man will win again this year and Fowler seems ready. "In a great spot and finally in a position where things are starting to kind of snowball and head in the right direction all together," he said late last year.

Back him at 50/1.

Final Bet: Erik van Rooyen each-way @ 251.0250/1

Rory McIlroy is coming in off a win in the desert (Dubai Desert Classic) and landed the CJ Cup on his last start on the PGA Tour.

The 8/1 may prove a very good price for the World No.1 whose only start here resulted in 13th place two years ago.

Jon Rahm grabbed the golfing world's attention here in 2015 when fifth as an amateur but his results as a pro are curious: strong but also a tad underwhelming.

Finishes of 16-11-10-9-13-10 have been frankly annoying for those hoping to land the each-way money with eight payout places.

Justin Thomas (3-3-13-8 here from 2019-2022) will certainly have his backers at 20s, as will last year's runner-up Patrick Cantlay.

Hideki Matsuyama was sent off the 11/1 favourite here when defending in 2017 and justified those odds by winning a play-off for the second straight year.

I was certainly very tempted at 28/1 this time following his ninth at Torrey Pines two weeks ago.

But I'm going to roll the dice and take a punt on 250/1 Erik van Rooyen.

It's a price play of course and one immediate thought is that it's very big for a player who already has a fairly recent win on the PGA Tour: the Barracuda Championship in August of 2021.

Van Rooyen's form has certainly been patchy this season but only two starts ago he closed with a 62 at The American Express. Going low in a desert event... sounds like good prep for this week.

Van Rooyen ranked 1st for SG: Tee To Green at The American Express as well as 12th for SG: Putting so his game is clearly clicking even though he didn't make the final day at Pebble Beach.

Back Erik van Rooyen each-way @

251.0

A missed cut on his only start in this event in 2021 doesn't seem to add anything to the mix but in Friday's round two he carded a 67 after going to the turn in 31: a foundation, maybe, for future success here.

The Datagolf website shows that the most common approach shot at TPC Scottsdale is one from 150-175 yards.

Van Rooyen is 13th in that category (46th over a full season last year) so should be hitting plenty of irons from spots where he feels comfortable. Tom Kim is currently third by the way.

Finally, the 32-year-old has a third in a WGC event to his name and a ninth in the US PGA so can do well in elite fields. The third was at altitude at Chapultepec in Mexico which fits in with van Rooyen residing in Johannesburg (5,751 feet above sea level).

The ball also flies further than average here at TPC Scottsdale (1,530 above sea level) so that extra bit of familiarity could work in his favour too.

Van Rooyen's compatriot, Garrick Higgo, is also a possibility at 175s following his 20th at Pebble Beach and 11th at The American Express.

Higgo went to University in Las Vegas so is familiar with desert conditions and he too is a PGA Tour winner after capturing the 2021 Palmetto Championship.

Staked: £510
Returned: £291.5
P/L: -£218.5

Previous:
2021/2022 P/L: -£315.35
2020/2021 P/L: +£1475.87
2019/2020 P/L: +£13.83
2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89

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