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Odds and Ends

Golf Pick 'Em: WMPO matchup breakdowns

by Will Gray
Updated On: February 3, 2021, 6:28 pm ET

Golf Pick 'Em is back for another season of picks and prizes in the NBC Sports Predictor app.

The free-to-play game returns in 2021, kicking off this week with the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Each week participants will choose between a series of head-to-head matchups as well as selecting an overall tournament champion and winning score.

Players can compete for weekly cash prizes, with a $50,000 jackpot available for any participants who earn a perfect score (increasing up to $100,000 during the biggest events of the year). There will also be at least $1,000 awarded each week in cash and prizes, even if there is no player with a perfect score.

This week also features the debut of NBC Sports Edge BetCast, a fully betting-centric, second screen experience streaming each round on Peacock. Viewers will have access to analysis of unique betting markets throughout the telecast, with live odds powered by PointsBet Sportsbook.

Here's a look at some of the keys to this week's set of eight matchups at TPC Scottsdale, as the Tour heads east to Arizona:

Jon Rahm vs. Rory McIlroy

Keys: Rahm went to school just a few miles away and has often wowed the crowds on 16 by donning a Pat Tillman ASU jersey while hitting his tee shot. The crowds won't be in full force this week, but the Spaniard's record speaks for itself with finishes of T-16 or better in each of his five appearances. McIlroy makes his tournament debut and both are entering off solid weeks at Torrey Pines, with Rahm finishing T-7 and McIlroy T-16.

Edge: Rahm

Justin Thomas vs. Xander Schauffele

Keys: Thomas has been in the mix at this event each of the last two years, finishing third and T-3, while Schauffele has been T-17 or better in each of his three prior WMPO starts. Thomas finished third in Kapalua but missed the cut two weeks ago in Abu Dhabi, while Schauffele finally broke through in his hometown event with a runner-up finish last week in San Diego.

Edge: Thomas

Webb Simpson vs. Hideki Matsuyama

Keys: This one pits the defending champ against a two-time winner, as Simpson outlasted Tony Finau last year in a playoff while Matsuyama won this event in back-to-back fashion in 2016 and 2017 (beating Simpson in a playoff in '17). Both have especially strong records at this event and return with some momentum, as Simpson finished T-4 at Sony while Matsuyama tied for 19th.

Edge: Simpson

Brooks Koepka vs. Jordan Spieth

Keys: Anyone a life preserver? Both guys are looking for one right now, as Koepka has missed three straight cuts for the first time in his career while Spieth made a similar early exit in San Diego and is in jeopardy of tumbling outside the top 100 in the world. This was where Koepka earned his first Tour win back in 2015, while Spieth has two top-10s and two missed cuts in four prior trips.

Edge: Koepka

Rickie Fowler vs. Matthew Wolff

Keys: An Oklahoma State matchup between a pair of former Cowboys. Fowler finally broke through here two years ago, winning in a wild final round after a number of close calls that included a playoff loss in 2016. Wolff has only broken 70 once in six prior rounds at TPC Scottsdale and withdrew last week after an opening-round 78 in San Diego, citing a hand injury.

Edge: Fowler

Harris English vs. Scottie Scheffler

Keys: It'll be tough to find a matchup featuring two stronger ball-strikers this week. English finally broke out of a lengthy victory drought with his playoff win last month at Kapalua and has two prior top-10s at this event but enters off a surprising missed cut at Torrey Pines. Scheffler remains in search of his first win and had a wild (65-79) split at Torrey. His first trip to TPC Scottsdale ended with a missed cut a year ago.

Edge: English

Matt Kuchar vs. Jason Day

Keys: It's a veteran special here between a pair of former Players champs. Kuchar has a stellar track record on the Stadium Course, with a run of three straight top-10s ending last year with a T-16 finish. He's teeing it up for the first time since a missed cut at Sony, while Day missed the cut last week at Torrey and is making his first WMPO start since a T-57 finish in 2013.

Edge: Kuchar

Gary Woodland vs. Daniel Berger

Keys: Woodland edged Chez Reavie to win this event in a playoff in 2018, the highlight of three top-10 finishes in 11 prior starts. He's starting to show signs of life after an injury-plagued 2020 season, making the cut each of the last two weeks. Berger's resurgent campaign last year included a win at Colonial and he has finished T-11 or better in four of six prior trips to Scottsdale. He enters off top-10 finishes in both Hawaii starts last month.

Edge: Berger

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Will Gray

Will Gray joined Golf Channel in 2007 and currently serves as a staff writer for GolfChannel.com. Gray has been covering fantasy golf since 2012 and is a regular contributor to the Golf Central blog and covers several PGA Tour events each year. He's also a regular contributor to several digital properties on GolfChannel.com, including Stat Man, On the Clock, Fantasy Central, Grill Room and the Monday Scramble podcast.