2023 Waste Management Phoenix Open first-round leader picks and model
Fantasy Golf & Golf Betting

2023 Waste Management Phoenix Open first-round leader picks and model

A picture of golfer Collin Morikawa

Each week of the PGA Tour season, the first-round leader market is one of the juiciest and most difficult to predict. With such a small sample size of first rounds, the fickle nature of form and the vagaries of splits, tee times and weather, there's a good reason these bets pay off so well when hit.

Now, we're going to try to help you win more PGA Tour first-round leader bets. In addition to our weekly model, which has a great track record of identifying PGA Tour winners every week, we're launching a first-round leader model that looks at the players most likely to wind up with at least a share of the first-round lead.

2023 Waste Management Phoenix Open: Field | Tournament Model | Rankings | Betting Odds and First Looks | Course History & Current Form | DFS Picks | First-Round Leader Picks | One and Done | Past Results | Cheat Sheet | PGA Tour Event History | Recent Form | Finish Database | Discord

How the rubric works

Finding a first-round leader is difficult, so our model uses several factors to identify a potential FRL.

I've started the model by looking at first-round strokes gained against the field in the last 50, 20 and 10 tournaments played. I also include first-round strokes gained in those timeframes against courses with similar first-round scoring averages in the last five years. Then I add in a player's first-round history at the host golf course. Add it all together, and that's our projected FRL number for a player.

There are plenty of factors data can't quantify, including luck of the draw, playing partners, hole locations, weather and sheer random stuff. However, all told, the model is designed to point out quality players and boost those middling players who have good current form or good course history.

2023 Waste Management Phoenix Open rankings

With this being an experimental feature subject to tweaking, it will remain available for free until I feel it's dialed in properly. Then it will only be available for GNN members.

We have an interesting week ahead with a very deep field. First-round leaders here tend to come from the morning wave.

I've listed the top 20 here based on their total model score. I've also included the rating based on first-round strokes gained at TPC Scottsdale in the last four years.

Click header to sort; the better their position, the more the rubric likes them

1 Morikawa, Collin 1.724
2 Wise, Aaron 1.703
3 Scheffler, Scottie 1.647
4 Spaun, J.J. 1.573
5 Rahm, Jon 1.53
6 Cantlay, Patrick 1.477
7 McIlroy, Rory 1.468
8 Thomas, Justin 1.446
9 Schauffele, Xander 1.426
10 Kim, Tom 1.305
11 Montgomery, Taylor 1.284
12 Fitzpatrick, Matt 1.276
13 McCarthy, Denny 1.247
14 Bradley, Keegan 1.236
15 Hatton, Tyrrell 1.231
16 Woodland, Gary 1.183
17 Power, Seamus 1.154
18 Young, Cameron 1.14
19 Johnson, Zach 1.138
20 Lowry, Shane 1.075

TPC Scottsdale first-round strokes gained the last four years

1 Horschel, Billy 0.523 15.682 12
2 Theegala, Sahith 0.473 4.727 4
3 Hubbard, Mark 0.448 8.955 8
4 Schauffele, Xander 0.389 11.682 12
5 Cantlay, Patrick 0.373 3.727 4
6 Noren, Alex 0.373 3.727 4
7 Bradley, Keegan 0.356 10.682 12
8 Rahm, Jon 0.323 9.682 12
9 Hadwin, Adam 0.323 9.682 12
10 Hoge, Tom 0.294 11.778 13
11 Lashley, Nate 0.294 11.778 13
12 Spaun, J.J. 0.284 5.687 7
13 Todd, Brendon 0.273 8.187 11
14 Champ, Cameron 0.273 5.46 5
15 Young, Cameron 0.273 2.727 4
16 Holmes, J.B. 0.248 4.955 6
17 Burns, Sam 0.244 9.778 11
18 Kisner, Kevin 0.241 4.823 7
19 Thomas, Justin 0.223 6.682 12
20 Scheffler, Scottie 0.223 6.682 10

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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