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Horse For The Course: PGA DFS Course History - 2023 WM Phoenix Open

Hello, folks, and welcome back to Horse For The Course! We knew going into the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach that we would be dealing with a lot of unique variables but I don't know that anyone could have anticipated the mess that resulted in Justin Rose triumphing at Pebble in a Monday finish after weather delays, a scrapped Pro-Am, and a shifting cut rule.

After the, ahem, interesting week at Pebble Beach, dedicated fans will be rewarded this week with one of the best events on the PGA Tour schedule in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, an event where there are historically two certainties: lots of beer will be consumed on-site and a playoff will cut into the lead-in of the Super Bowl.

Horse For The Course is an article that highlights players in this week's field with elite course history and is part of our free PGA DFS content here at RotoBaller. For my favorite DFS plays of the week check out my Core Four article here at RotoBaller every Wednesday. It's part of our amazing PGA Premium package that includes an all-new PGA Research Station, Lineup Builder & Optimizer, and some of the best articles in the PGA DFS industry! You can sign up now using Promo Code: NICE for an extra discount at checkout!

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2023 WM Phoenix Open

While last week's HFTC was written with a tinge of disdain for the thinly-veiled farce that is the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, you will sense no such underlying reservations about this week's tournament, as I think it's fair to label the WM Phoenix Open one of the best events of the year.

Sure, the often rowdy, party-like atmosphere of the WMPO isn't for everyone, but it has given this tournament a unique identity. That popularity is aided not only by the infamous Par-3 16th hole that's held inside its own stadium but also by the tournament's annual spot as a lead-in to the Super Bowl.

It's not as if Phoenix needed any help drawing attention, but the PGA Tour powers that be have doubled down this year by naming the WMPO one of the schedule's "designated, elevated events". What does that mean? Tons of prize money and a field jam-packed with stars. 18 of the OWGR's top-20 players will be teeing it up this week and slugging it out over a massive purse and desirable title. This event kicked off Scottie Scheffler's early-season tear in 2022 and he'll be back to defend his title against, well...everybody who is anybody on the PGA Tour.

You can also find out who the smart money is on by checking out Spencer Aguiar's PGA DFS: Vegas Report every week. And be sure to read all of our other top-notch weekly PGA DFS articles to help you win big!


The Course: TPC Scottsdale

Par 71 - 7,261 Yards, Greens: Bermuda, Designed By: Tom Weiskopf

A lot will be made of the famous Par-3 16th hole this week, and rightfully so, as it's unlike any other hole we see on the PGA Tour, but players will have to tame the other 17 holes at TPC Scottsdale if they want to win this week. The Stadium Course isn't especially difficult by PGA Tour standards and the winning score in each of the last five years has been between 17 and 19-under par with the 36-hole cut line normally falling around Even par.

Players will need to take advantage of three gettable Par-5s, as well as the driveable Par-4 17th hole, so distance is a nice bonus this week. Perhaps more important than distance is iron play...strokes gained on approach is a consistent trait of players that fare well in Phoenix.

We have a nice sample size of course history to draw from this week and I feel comfortable making strong iron play with good proximity numbers my top priority for this event as I narrow down my potential player pool.


Recent WMPO Winners & Scoring Info

  • 2022: Scottie Scheffler (-16)
  • 2021: Brooks Koepka (-19)
  • 2020: Webb Simpson (-17)
  • 2019: Rickie Fowler (-17)
  • 2018: Gary Woodland (-18)
  • Average Winning Score Last Five Years: -17.4
  • Average Cut Line Score Last Five Years: -1.6


The Horse

Jon Rahm

  • Event Scoring Average: 68.14 (Seven career starts)
  • Notable Course History: T10(2022), T13 ('21), T9 ('20), T10 ('19), T5*('15 *As an amateur)
  • DraftKings Price: $11,000 FanDuel Price: $12,100

Those of you that read this article regularly might be experiencing full-blow Jon Rahm fatigue at this point, but stick with me here, as Rahm's course history streak will ease up a bit once we leave the west coast.

However, we must shine the spotlight on the Spaniard at least one more time, as he enters the week searching for his third win of 2023 on a golf course that is a large part of his golfing DNA. Rahm played his college golf at Arizona State and now resides in Scottsdale. He has a deep connection with TPC Scottsdale that goes back to his days as a Sun Devil when he recorded a top-five finish in this event as an amateur. That mastery has continued at the professional level with the ASU alum picking up three top-10s across his last four WMPO starts. Obviously, Rahm also still practices at and plays this course regularly due to living in the area.

In addition to his Arizona ties, the Spaniard has simply been in beast mode. While he didn't get a victory at the Farmers Insurance Open two weeks ago, Rahm still entered the final round with a chance to win before ultimately settling for a share of seventh place, which I suppose is what constitutes a disappointing performance from him this year. He comes into the week leading this star-studded field in SG: Total over the last 24 measured rounds.


The Ponies

Xander Schauffele

  • Event Scoring Average: 67.80 (Five career starts)
  • Notable Course History: T3 ('22), T2 ('21), T16 ('20), T10 ('19)
  • DraftKings Price: $10,000 FanDuel Price: $11,700

Xander Schauffele's WM Phoenix Open resume is a study of elite consistency. Schauffele's last two starts at TPC Scottsdale - a T3 last year and a T2 the year before - placed him so agonizingly close to victory in the desert that it feels as though a breakthrough has to come soon.

Much has been made over the years of Xander's knack for winning no-cut events, but it feels like there's more to it than the simple no-cut format. When we dig into his successes we find that the Californian excels against elite fields on tougher-than-average golf courses, with the average winning score across Schauffele's seven career victories being 16.85-under par.

It adds up to his excellent production at the WMPO being very "in-character" for Xander, as the average winning score at TPC Scottsdale over the last five years has been -17.4 and the field annually grades out on the stronger side of average. He'll get his shot against a stacked field this week with 18 of the world's top-20 golfers set to tee it up.

Any injury concerns that popped up with his WD at the Sentry TOC have been subsequently put to bed, as the X-Man has looked both healthy and sharp en route to a T3 at the AmEx and a T13 at the Farmers. Few golfers in the world are performing at such a consistently elite level as Schauffele. Since last year's Phoenix Open, he's gained strokes total in 14 of 17 tournaments and - if we include the Zurich Classic he won with Patrick Cantlay - he has logged more wins (three) than missed cuts (two).


Justin Thomas

  • Event Scoring Average: 68.46 (Eight career starts)
  • Notable Course History: T8 ('22), T13 ('21), T3 ('20), T3 ('19)
  • DraftKings Price: $9,800 FanDuel Price: $11,300

It's been an uncharacteristically-sluggish beginning to 2023 for Justin Thomas, a player that's historically feasted in Hawaii. Thomas has logged a pair of ho-hum T25 results in his two starts this year but will look to kick things into high gear this week on a TPC Scottsdale layout where he's routinely thrived throughout his career.

His underwhelming play in January might have some DFS players sleeping on JT, though I think that's a mistake of the "sleeping giant" variety. Since sandwiching a pair of missed cuts between T17s across the first four WMPO starts of his career, the Kentucky native has been blistering in the desert. Thomas recorded back-to-back T3s at TPC Scottsdale in 2019-20 before grinding out a T13 while battling through the death of his grandfather in 2021.

He'll need to get the driver sorted out if he's to repeat his previous WMPO success in this year's edition. Thomas has lost a combined 4.9 strokes OTT in his two 2023 starts. However, the rest of the game appeared to be firing at Torrey Pines two weeks ago when he gained 5.3 strokes T2G at the Farmers.

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Alex Noren

  • Event Scoring Average: 68.67 (Three career starts)
  • Notable Course History: T6 ('22), T44 ('19), T21 ('18)
  • DraftKings Price: $7,600 FanDuel Price: $9,500

Alex Noren's WMPO history isn't extensive, though it is rock solid, with three career appearances highlighted by a T6 in last year's edition. Noren's already-nice track record shines a little brighter when we factor in his sneaky-good recent form.

The Swede has been off North American radars for the last few months, but we shouldn't sleep on the veteran, as he's been white hot as of late. Noren closed out his 2022 PGA Tour schedule with a T4 at the Houston Open in November, a result that he sandwiched between a pair of international runner-up finishes at the Alfred Dunhill Links and DP World Tour Championships.

Noren has apparently picked up right where he left off, as he recently opened 2023 by posting a T5 in Abu Dhabi two weeks ago.


J.T. Poston

  • Event Scoring Average: 68.69 (Four career starts)
  • Notable Course History: T23 ('22), T11 ('21), T27 ('20), T26 ('19)
  • DraftKings Price: $7,300 FanDuel Price: $8,900

A player that runs hot and cold, J.T. Poston enters this year's WMPO with scorching form. Poston most recently delivered a T6 at the AmEx and hasn't logged a finish worse than a T21 in any of his three 2023 starts.

Since winning the John Deere Classic last year, Poston has finished inside the top-25 in nine of 14 starts. More well-known for his streaky-hot putting, the North Carolina native has flashed his ball-striking skills during his recent tear and he's now gained strokes on Approach in four straight tournaments.

In addition to the strong form, the 29-year-old has experienced smooth sailing in his four prior trips to TPC Scottsdale. Poston has amassed a 68.69 career scoring average in the WMPO and has never finished worse than T27 in the event. Due to just how stacked this week's field is, we can grab him at salary-saving DFS prices on both DraftKings and FanDuel.


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