The Phoenix Open in Scottsdale Arizona is famed for the huge crowds it attracts. In 2008, the Phoenix Open set a PGA Tour single day attendance record with over 170,000 fans on the Saturday. The event also holds the tournament week attendance record at 538,356. Many of the fans make their way to the stadium-style par-3 16th hole. When Tiger Woods made a hole-in-one here back in 1997, the roar of the crowd could be heard 10 miles away.
From 2003 to 2009 the tournament was sponsored by investment bank FBR, this year a new sponsor has been found – Waste Management inc. It’s the USA’s largest provider of environmental services. Not the most glamorous title sponsor but they’ve agreed to a six-year partnership and that’s not to be sniffed at.
The TPC Scottsdale is not the toughest course on tour and it does often produce low scoring – three men hold the course record of 60: Grant Waite, Phil Mickelson and Mark Calcavecchia. It tends to be the man with the hottest putter who comes out on top in this event.
Over the years there have been some notable winners of the tournament – Arnold Palmer won three in a row in the early 1960s, Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Sandy Lyle have also taken the title.
Last year Kentucky’s Kenny Perry ended regulation play in a tie with Charley Hoffman on 14-under-par. Neither man looked willing to take the title through a scrappy playoff but Perry eventually emerged victorious with a birdie at the third extra hole.
Venue: TPC Scottsdale, Arizona
Date: Feb 25-28
Course stats: par 71, 7,216 yards
Purse: $6,000,000 Winner: $1,080,000
Defending Champion: Kenny Perry (-14)
Thursday 25 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9pm
Friday 26 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9pm
Saturday 27 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9pm
Sunday 28 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 9pm
J.B Holmes – Twice a winner here, the big-hitting 27-year-old will be looking to make it back-to-back Kentuckian victories at Scottsdale following Kenny Perry’s win in 2009.
Phil Mickelson – He’s the fans’ favourite in this event as an Arizona State alumni. If he can get his putter working he’ll challenge. He took the title in 2005.
Matt Kuchar – The 1997 US Amateur Champion has been showing good form in 2010 and he was tied for sixth in this tournament last season.
Key hole: 16th. 162 yards into a green that will be surrounded with thousands of fans, including many Arizona State university students, cheering good shots and booing poor ones.
Skills required: Concentration. With the huge throngs of boisterous fans swarming along the edges of the fairways it’s easy to become distracted. The man who wins will either harness the crowd’s energy or have his blinkers firmly secured.