Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama defends his title this week in the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler will also play in golf’s best-attended tournament.
It’s one of the PGA Tour’s most anticipated events this week as the players and over 500,000 spectators descend on Scottsdale in Arizona for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
First contested in 1932, there have been some notable winners of this tournament over the years – 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, Hideki Matsuyama triumphed in a playoff. Rickie Fowler had led by two with two to play in regulation holes, but the American found the water on the 17th and, in the end did well to force extra holes. The Japanese star won it at the fourth extra hole.
Phil Mickelson is a favourite with the fans in this tournament. He attended Arizona State university and has won this event on three occasions. This will be his 28th start in the competition. He has played every instalment of the tournament since 1991.
This is the best-attended event in world golf. Last year 618,365 made their way through the gates during the course of the week. Many of the fans make their way to the cauldron like amphitheatre surrounding the par-3 16th. It’s been the scene of many dramatic moments in the past.
When Tiger Woods aced the hole in 1997 the cheer could be heard 10 miles away. At the other end of the spectrum, Justin Leonard was not popular when he gave the crowd the finger after they taunted him for a poor shot.
The weather looks like being excellent all week.
Venue: TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona
Date: Feb 2-5
Course stats: par 71, 7,266 yards
Purse: $6,700,000 Winner: $1,206,000
Defending Champion: Hideki Matsuyama (-14)
Thursday 2 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Friday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm
Saturday 4 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Sunday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm
Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x launched:
Hideki Matsuyama – It’s very difficult to look past the defending champion. Not only is he on fine form at the moment but he’s also superb around this course. His last three starts at TPC Scottsdale have resulted in: a tie for fourth, a tie for second and a victory.
Jon Rahm – He’s fresh off the back of his maiden tour victory and, as a former Arizona State student, he’ll receive great support. He was tied for fifth in this event as an amateur in 2015.
Tony Finau – The powerful Finau has enjoyed a great start to 2017, with a tied fourth last week at Torrey Pines. This is a course that should suit his game.
Key hole: 16th. This par-3 can play anywhere from 115 to 180 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.