Waste Management Phoenix Open: Moore of the same

Ryan Moore is playing the best golf of his career
Ryan Moore is playing the best golf of his career

Dave Tindall brings us his analysis and tips for this week's PGA Tour event - the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona...

"Despite being one of the Tour's more introverted players, Moore relishes playing in front of the huge, noisy crowds which make this event so unique. Back in 2013, he said: 'I love this event, I really do.'"

Each-way terms: ¼ odds, 5 places

Main Bet: Back Ryan Moore e/w @ 28/1

After a brilliant amateur career, great things were expected of Ryan Moore when he turned pro.

He was slow to come to the boil though and the added complication of injuries and swing adjustments meant he only managed a single victory in his first seven years in the pro ranks.

But the titles have started coming now and he's posted a PGA Tour win in four of the last five seasons.

At 34, he's now playing the most consistent golf of his career and 2016 was his best season, a win at the John Deere Classic helping him earn a captain's pick and make a hugely impressive Ryder Cup debut.

He'd ended the 2016 season by finishing runner-up to an inspired Rory McIlroy in the Tour Championship and that was his third top 10 in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

Moore followed that with 17-23-15 in the Fall season events and then kicked off 2017 with a top three in the SBS Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, finishing 6th for Greens In Regulation and 1st in Scrambling.

Quite simply, if there's a suitable course, he's worth following right now.

TPC Scottsdale definitely falls into that category as it's one where he's racked up three top six finishes and a further three top 20s in his last eight visits. His last four appearances show 11-17-6-4.

As a Vegas resident, who won the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open there in 2012, he's very at home in the desert.

Despite being one of the Tour's more introverted players, Moore relishes playing in front of the huge, noisy crowds which make this event so unique.

Back in 2013, he said: "I love this event, I really do. It's easy to let it get under your skin every once in a while, but overall for me, it has just a great tournament feel, feels like a real golf tournament. I think the atmosphere is great. I think what they do here is brilliant."

His excellent display in the Ryder Cup was further evidence that he thrives when the crowds go wild and, despite some big names in the field, Moore can battle it out with the best of them at the finish.

The 28/1 is very fair.

I was also attempted by Moore's Ryder Cup colleague Patrick Reed.

In theory, he's made for the pumped-up galleries at 16 and raucous atmosphere having shown in Ryder Cups that he can take his game to a higher plane when the adrenaline is pumping.

But his Greens In Regulation numbers are poor and that's a big factor here.

Last year, the top five finishes were ranked 1st, 8th, 8th, 20th and 2nd respectively for GIR. And in 2015 the first three home were ranked 4th, 4th, 2nd.

Reed was T19 on debut here in 2014 and T40 on his only other start in 2015 so he's done okay but maybe the lack of sharpness in his iron play will stop him contending this time.

Next Best: Back Hideki Matsuyama e/w @ 10/1

When Hideki Matsuyama went on his incredible run of four wins and two second places during an incredible stretch of golf at the end of 2016 I did mentally mark him down as must-bet material for this event.

After all, he won here in a playoff last year, was runner-up in 2015 and also took fourth on debut in 2014. In short, he's had more success at TPC Scottsdale than at any other course on the PGA Tour.

He's an easy and obvious pick but there are two obvious questions to answer before deciding whether 10/1 is a big enough price.

Firstly, are there signs that his form is dipping and, secondly, is he any good at defending titles?

Having posted T27 in the Sony Open and T33 in the Farmers Insurance Open, there's a case for saying the Japanese youngster is having a little dip after he started 2017 by finishing runner-up at the SBS Tournament of Champions.

But is that really the case? At the Sony, his form figures at the course before that T27 were MC-MC-MC-MC. At the Farmers, he'd missed the cut in both 2015 and 2016.

Waialae and Torrey Pines were venues where he'd struggled horribly in previous years so finishing in the top 35 at both was actually a vast improvement.

His expectations going into those events can't have been high and traditionally this is the West Coast Swing event where he comes alive.

The second question is can he cope with the extra pressures of being the defending champion?

The sample size of evidence is small but all is very positive. He's put just one title on the line in the PGA Tour and he followed up his 2013 win at Memorial with fifth place 12 months later.

On the Japan Tour, he's made just two defences and those went well too as he finished runner-up on his return to the Dunlop Phoenix and 4th the year after winning the Taiheiyo Masters as an amateur.

It appears that Matsuyama loves to go back to courses where he's tasted previous success.

He's 10/1 this week due to the quality around him and it's not difficult to make a strong case for both Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.

Spieth made the top three in both Hawaii events and finished 1st for GIR at the Sony Open. He's played the Phoenix Open just once but was T7 in 2015 after a closing 65.

This is Thomas's first start since his back-to-back wins in Hawaii and he'd be a short price anywhere at the moment.

His already transparent claims are enhanced by him sitting third at halfway and fifth after 54 holes here on his debut in 2015 (eventually finished T17). He missed the cut last year.

But it's Matsuyama who stands out for me.

Although sifting through his quotes doesn't reveal much - "I wish I knew" was his response when asked why he does so well here - it's noticeable that he won last year despite a niggling back problem and feeling that he didn't putt or hit it great at times.

It's a natural mental leap to think how well he could do when totally fit and on his game.

I'm prepared to find out at 10/1.

Final Bet: Back Scott Piercy e/w @ 66/1

I do like course horses in this event and Scott Piercy definitely deserves that tag.

The Las Vegas resident (there's that desert connection again) has teed it up in this event eight times and cracked the top 15 on five occasions. That includes third place in 2013 and top 10s in 2009 (6th) and 2010 (8th).

Piercy once gave this quote about TPC Scottsdale: "I just feel comfortable on it. I don't know, it's just one of those golf courses, magic kind of comes around a little bit."

That magic certainly happened in 2013. At halfway, the American was T38 but he jumped 35 spots to third after a weekend birdie blitz which saw him card 64 on Saturday and a stunning 10-under-par 61 on Sunday.

Even last year's T45 is worth revisiting as he shot a second-round 65 before fading over the final 36 holes.

Piercy returns this year as the World No.36 (he's never ranked that high heading to Phoenix) and that shows how much progression he's made in recent times.

He made his big leap last year, peaking at 25 after back-to-back second places as the US Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Like Moore, Piercy has been somewhat of a late developer and all three of his PGA Tour wins have come in his 30s.

After ending 2016 with another three top 10s in his last five starts, Piercy hasn't quite had his best stuff in 2017 with T57 at the Sony Open and T41 at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

But there wasn't exactly too much wrong. He shot a pair of opening 66s in Hawaii and has carded 71 or lower in all eight rounds.

The one worry would be his putting which can come and go. It's looked off so far but on greens he clearly knows how to putt on, Piercy will have the extra confidence that he can hole his share this week.

Take the 66/1.

At a bigger price, Kyle Stanley is a former winner of this event (memorably, the week after he blew a three-shot lead on the final hole at Torrey Pines).

He's not really kicked on since that incredible fortnight but the recent signs are good and T14 back at Torrey Pines last week was his sixth top 25 in nine starts.

If his putter came alive, he'd be really dangerous.

Dave's 2016/17 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £320
Returned: £771.56
P/L: +£451.56

(After Farmers Insurance Open)

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