Waste Management Phoenix Open Outright Predictions: Thomas, Burns Primed For Big Weeks

A heavy, star-filled field is set to tee it up this week at TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Our outright predictions highlight Justin Thomas, Sam Burns, and a former winner who could be primed to shake off some rust.

Last Updated: Feb 9, 2022 2:08 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Sam Burns Waste Management Phoenix Open PGA Tour
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Last week's PGA Tour stop saw Tom Hoge (+5,000) edge out Jordan Spieth and a light field to win the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.

Meanwhile, many of the world's top golfers were at the 2022 Saudi International, which saw Harold Varner III (+4,000) come away victorious after holing an 18th-hole 92-foot eagle putt.

This week, many of those top golfers will be back on American soil for the always-entertaining Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale

We combed through the much heavier field this week and selected a favorite, a sleeper, and a long shot to keep your eyes on when things get underway on Thursday.

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Waste Management Phoenix Open Outright picks

Among the favorites: Justin Thomas (+1,200)

While Jon Rahm is very much the best golfer walking the planet right now and someone we could very easily drop into this slot every single week, we're going to look past the world No. 1 to Justin Thomas, who sits right below Rahm on the odds board at +1,200.

JT has been on one helluva run dating back to the Northern Trust last August. He finished T4 at Liberty National and has strung together some incredible results since, including four other finishes of T5 or better and none worse than his T22 finish at the BMW Championship.

With that said, the next step is getting back into the Winner's Circle, something he hasn't done since the Players Championship last March — and this may be the spot for him to do it.

While his T20 finish at the Farmers two weeks ago looks rather pedestrian compared to his previous results, he shot 68-63 in the two opening rounds and was in the driver's seat prior to fading away with a 73-74 weekend.

Regardless, TPC Scottsdale is as much of a ball-strikers golf course as the Tour will play all year, and JT, maybe the best ball-striker on Tour when in form, has the results to back it up.

In his last four starts at the Phoenix Open, he's posted T17, solo-third, T3, and T13 finishes but actually ranks first overall in cumulative score-to-par, strokes gained approach, and strokes gained total over those four years.

He's in incredible form and plays this golf course as well as anyone teeing it up this week. Add it all together and it gives Mr. Thomas the recipe he'll need to come away victorious.

Sleeper to watch: Sam Burns (+3,300)

I bounced back and forth between a handful of guys in this spot, including Webb Simpson, Louis Oosthuizen, and Seamus Power, but I ultimately landed on Sam Burns, who's available at +3,300.

Yes, Burns missed the cut at the Farmers two weeks ago by a couple of shots, but he's earned the right to have that result thrown out.

Look past that missed cut and you'll see that Burns has finished no worse than T21 going all the way back to the start of August. He's made 11 starts resulting in three Top-5s, two Top-10s, and a win at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

And while the fields will be stronger than they were doing his red-hot Fall run, I don't expect that form to disappear. Even so, he's proven time and time again over the past year that he can contend in big-boy events like this one.

He may have missed cuts in 2019 and 2020 on his Phoenix Open resume, but he finished T22 last year where a third-round 73 tainted rounds of 64 and two other 68s.

He led the field in strokes gained putting that week (by far) and had average to below-average weeks around the green, on approach, and off the tee, all areas he's made great strides in over the past year.

In the early parts of the 2021-22 season, he ranks ninth tee-to-green (42nd last season), 21st off the tee (44th), and 56th around the green (126th).

If he rolls the rock at all like he did last year, the rest of his game should elevate Burns into contention, where he's been consistently over the past six months.

Longshot worth a look: Gary Woodland (+10,000)

With this week's longshot pick, I'm rolling with a former winner, Gary Woodland.

The 2019 U.S. Open champion won this event in 2018 in a playoff over Chez Reavie and posted a T7 finish the following year in 2019.

Since then, he hasn't had much success at TPC Scottsdale and has been in shaky form for much of the last year, but the Phoenix Open has made a weird habit of producing repeat winners, and grabbing a former winner of Woodland's status at +10,000 makes this worth a second look. 

Dating back to 1995, there have been a number of guys win this event more than once, including Brooks Koepka (2015, 2021, Hideki Matsuyama (2016, 2017), Phil Mickelson (1996, 2005, 2013), J.B. Holmes (2006, 2008), and Vijay Singh (1995, 2003). Why not Woodland?

He may make more sense in Top-40 or Top-20 markets but this is a true flier. It shouldn't come as that big of a surprise if Woodland finds his game for a week and ends up in the mix.

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