Bet PGA Golf: Mike Kern picks the Waste Management Open, likes Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson & 2 long, longshots
Webb Simpson reacts after missing a putt on the 12th green during the first round of the Sony Open golf tournament Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu. Associated Press Photo/Jamm Aquino

Bet PGA Golf: Mike Kern picks the Waste Management Open, likes Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson & 2 long, longshots

The Phoenix tournament tees off Thursday morning.

Last week we at least gave out Adam Scott as one of our middle-tier guys, and he did finish 10th, after being one shot off the lead after 36 holes, and that paid off at 4-1. So we got something back. But of course we’ll try to do better. I also told you that I had Tony Finau as my pick in my yearlong pool, and I didn’t want to take him to jinx anyone, but he did tie for second. So I can’t always play the role of Mr. Mush I guess.

Now it’s on to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which annually has the most raucous galleries on the planet. But this year there will only be 5,000 fans. Sign of the times. Still better than nothing. Small steps. I’m sure the ones who do get in will make the most of it.

Jon Rahm is 6-1, followed by Justin Thomas at 7.5-1 and Xander Schauffele at 8-1. Thomas has failed to finish in the top 15 in four of his last six starts here. Schauffele hasn’t won in two years. But both are obviously threats.

Rory McIlroy, who hasn’t won in over a year, is 10-1. Webb Simpson, your defending champ, is 14-1. Daniel Berger is 16-1. He’s had four top 12s here. Hideki Matsuyama, who hasn’t won in a long time and is off form at the moment, is 22-1. He was the winner here in 2016 and ’17. Harris English is 25-1, Sungjae Im 33-1.

Billy Horschel, Louis Oosthuizen, Ryan Palmer and Will Zalatoris are 40-1. Zalatoris was seventh last week in his first start of the year. He’s had four top eights in his last seven tourneys. Rickie Fowler, who won this in 2019, is 45-1. As is Brooks Koepka and Scottie Scheffler. Remember when Koepka was never more than like single digits? Bubba Watson, Matthew Wolff and Gary Woodland are 50-1. Woodland won this in 2018. Bubba has back-to-back top four finishes here, and has been runner-up twice before that. But he is my pick in my yearlong pool. Always worth noting.

Some other names maybe worth noting: Jason Day is 80-1. Ditto Brendan Steele. Henrik Norlander is 100-1. He’s been second and 12th the last two weeks. Should I even mention that Jordan Spieth is 125-1. Yo. Chez Reavie is 150-1. He lost in a playoff here in 2018. And finished fourth in ’19. He’s also missed the cut seven times. So go compute that. Max Homa is 66-1. He was sixth here last year.

You know me and chalk. We don’t mix that well. I’m always looking for value. Like at the race track. Funny how that works. That being said, of the blokes near the top I would lean toward Webb Simpson. I’m not a big fan of asking guys to repeat, mostly because so few do. But at 14-1 I think he offers the best value. Nothing too serious, though. He’s also +350 for a top five, and I would take some of that as well.

Of those in the mid tier I would consider a few. Bubba Watson would be one, but again I have him in my pool and that sometimes can be not such a good thing for you bettors out there.

I would definitely take a hard look at Will Zalatoris at 40-1, and 8-1 for a top five hedge and 4-1 for a top 10. Nothing wrong with a little strategy.

As for guys who might be worth a buck or two just in case, Henrik Norlander at 100-1 seems interesting. And he’s 18-1 for a top five, half that for a 10. I feel the same way about Chez Reavie, if off nothing more than the potential he’s shown at this venue. He’s 150-1, 33-1 and 17-1. So who knows. But a little can get you a whole lot back, just in case. And that’s half the fun.

So have at it, and we’ll check back next week. Hopefully we’ll have something to really celebrate.

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