Jamie Worsley is red-hot right now, picking up 150/1 and 80/1 winners last week. He has already given us his Phoenix Open Preview but, as always, he also had three first round leader picks for us too. Read below for his justifications.
I’m going to focus solely on the first-round leader market here and with that rain that was previously predicted to fall before the event now carrying on into Thursday, there’s a particular side of the draw who looks to have a small advantage.
Though conditions are set to be pretty miserable throughout the day, the early starters may have the worst of it, with slightly colder, wetter and more breezy weather forecast for early on. Therefore, I’ll be concentrating on those afternoon starters on Thursday.
A couple of other things to consider in regards to this week are that of the last fourteen players to at least share a part of the first-round lead, eleven had previously played TPC Scottsdale before; additionally a round of 65 or better has been needed to hold that day one position in each of the last nine renewals.
1.25 pts Byeong Hun An each way (1/4, 5 places) First-Round Leader - 35/1
I’m going to kick off with somewhat of a TPC Scottsdale specialist, Byeong Hun An. He’s made an excellent start to 2024, and can take strides towards another positive showing this week by taking advantage of his afternoon tee-time on Thursday.
An began his year with a 4th-place finish in The Sentry and then followed with a runner-up finish in the Sony Open, before finishing 39th at Pebble Beach last week. He’s shot nine rounds out of eleven in the 60s across these starts, which included three 64s.
The Korean has been starting reasonably well, sitting inside the top 20 after round one in both events in Hawaii. This is no surprise for a player who ranked 11th on tour last season in round one scoring and he’s often proven capable of transferring this fast-starting ability to Phoenix.
In five starts in the event, An has recorded four top 25s, which includes a pair of top 10s when 6th on debut in 2017 and he was 9th in 2020. He has had two rounds of 65 in five 66s in twenty career rounds at Scottsdale; three of which have come in opening rounds, to see him sat inside the top 6 after round one in each of the 2017, 2019 and 2020 editions.
1 pt Beau Hossler each way (1/4, 5 places) First-Round Leader - 55/1
Beau Hossler has proven an ability to go very low in the Phoenix Open and starting this season in promising fashion, he looks ready to make a speedy start at TPC Scottsdale.
Hossler was in great shape at the end of 2023, signing off the year by making nine of his last ten cuts; recording six top 25s and went closest when finishing 2nd in the ZOZO Championship on his second-to-last start of the year.
He has begun 2024 in much the same way, following a 47th-place finish in the AmEx with a 6th at Torrey Pines and then finished 14th at Pebble Beach last week.
Hossler was sat inside the top 20 after the first round in his last two starts. This is something he’s kept going from the end of last year, where he was regularly starting well, including shooting a superb 62 to hold the first-round lead in the Shriners Open.
Whilst he hasn’t started particularly quickly here before, with just one first-round top 25 coming when 23rd in 2020, a closing round of 63 here last year would’ve been good enough to hold the first-round lead in eight of the last nine years. He also shot a 64 on his debut in 2017 and with the way he’s been starting lately, I see no reason why he can’t reproduce a performance of this level from his favourable tee-time on Thursday.
0.75 pts Scott Stallings each way (1/4, 5 places) First-Round Leader - 100/1
Scott Stallings picked up some place money for us in this market on his latest start in the Farmers Insurance Open and coming to a place that he finally looks to have gotten the hang of in recent years, he again looks an interesting player.
Finishes of 42 – MC – 25 to begin the season represents a solid start for Stallings but he’s been even more impressive in the first rounds. After firing a 66 to sit 7th at the end of the Sony Open first round, he went even better on his next start in the AmEx, shooting 64 to tie the low round of the day at the Stadium Course.
We then jumped on him at Torrey Pines, where he started the week at the tougher South Course and after looking a big FRL contender throughout that opening round, he eventually settled for 3rd and some place money; taking his early-season FRL form to 7 – 1 – 3.
He didn’t play at Pebble Beach but now comes to a course where after missing his first five cuts, he has since gone on to record three top 25 finishes in his last five starts.
Across those recent starts, Stallings has had two 66s, as well as a 65 in 2018. In addition to that, he has sat inside the top 25 after the first round in each of the last three renewals; sitting 12th in 2021, 6th in 2022 and 23rd last year.
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