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Home : Golf NewsBack to News

Hideki looking to make it 3 in a row

 

Three of the World's top four, No 2 Jon Rahm, No 3 Jordan Spieth and No 4 Justin Thomas, are in the field for the US PGA Tour's hugely popular Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona this week.

But only one of them, Spieth, shares the top spot with the defending champion Hideki Matsuyama, the World No 5, on the British bookmaker's list of Phoenix Open favourites. They are listed at 9/1

Rahm is next best at 10/1 and Thomas at 16/1 behind Rickie Fowler at 14/1.

Spieth, a 24-year-old, three-time major winner from Texas, doesn't always win, but his talent is such that he is invariably up among the favourites whenever he plays while if Matsuyama is sharing top spot with him this week, it's clearly because of the Japanese young gun's outstanding record on a course he seems to thrive on in a tournament he has won for each of the past two years.

In 2016 he beat Fowler in a playoff after both carded 14-under 270s and last year, as the defending champion, he shot a 17-under 267 to beat Webb Simpson by two shots.

And in the view of the bookies and respected tipsters like Rob Bolton of the PGA tour website, he has a good chance of achieving the very rare distinction of successfully defending a PGA Tour title for a third straight time - if he plays the aggressive type of golf that saw him through last year.

Mind you, with players like Spieth and Rahm in the field, no one can ever be sure of winning another of the hectic battles of TPC Scottville where its Stadium course, which annually draws some of the biggest galleries in golf, is always packed with see-saw drama

Spieth hasn't won in the six months since his third major triumph at the Open last year and for a man who, in a few short years, has already accumulated 11 wins, he must be champing at the bit to get back in the winning seat.

In the meantime, Rahm, perhaps fired up by his win-2nd-win run earlier this season, is another who'll be teeing off on Thursday, full of confidence and with a strong desire to win a championship in which he placed 5th as an amateur.

And Thomas, the only man to win five times on the PGA Tour last year - what are his chances?

Not so good based on a history showing that when he tied for 17th in 2015 it was the only time he had made the cut in three attempts.

Fowler, who was edged out by Matsuyama in 2016 and Simpson, the loser to Matsuyama last year, are different kettles of fish.

Both have games that seem to fit well with TPC Scottsville's 7,266-yard layout where finding the greens in regulation seems to be more important than driving with accuracy.

They should add to the always electric atmosphere that invariable envelops the course, especially on a final stretch that includes a par 5 with an island green, a drivable par 4 and a dramatic signature hole, the 162-Yard Par 3 16th that, because it is invariably surrounded by up to 20,000 spectators in an arena setting, has become the world's rowdiest hole in golf.

So yes, you can certainly look out for some golfing fireworks in Scottsville this week.

LEADING ODDS
(Tuesday PM, Jan 30, 2018)

Hideki Matsuyama 9/1
Jordan Spieth 9/1
Jon Rahm 10/1
Rickie Fowler/1
Justin Thomas 16/1
Marc Leishman 30/1
Daniel Berge 40/1
Alex Noren 40/1/1
Webb Simpson 35/1
JB Holmes 45/1
Charles Howell III 45/1
Gary Woodland 40/1
Phil Mickelson 50/1
Matt Kuchar 50/1
Zach Johnson 50/1
Byeong Hun An 50/1
Brendan Steele 55/1
Harris English 55/1
Keegan Bradley 66/1
Patrick Reed 60/1.

NOTE: For local betting options visit BetWay, or visit oddschecker.com/golf/waste-management-phoenix-open/winner.

Neville Leck

Written by neville@golfweather.com.