Rickie and Phil set for Phoenix cauldron

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is the best attended event in world golf

Rickie and Phil ready for Phoenix
Rickie and Phil ready for Phoenix
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson are among the star players on the start sheet for the Waste Management Phoenix Open - the best attended event in world golf.

Rickie Fowler is the highest-ranked player in the field at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Now fourth on the Official World Golf Ranking, he’s playing for a third straight week having won in Abu Dhabi two weekends ago.

Rickie Fowler slow-mo swings:

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 27th start in the event. Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson are among the star players on the start sheet, but they'll face some strong competition this week. Bubba Watson is definitely one to watch. He's looking to finally get a win in this event. He’s been runner-up for the past two years.

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, Brooks Koepka fired a final round of 66 to win by a single shot from fellow Americans Ryan Palmer and Bubba Watson and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

This is the best-attended event in world golf. Last year 564,300 made their way through the gates during the course of the week. Many of the fans find 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 forecast for the week is set fair with steadily climbing temperatures.

Venue: TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona Date: Feb 4-7 Course stats: par 71, 7,266 yards Purse: $6,500,000    Winner: $1,170,000 Defending Champion: Brooks Koepka (-15)

TV Coverage: Thursday 4 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm Friday 5 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm Saturday 6 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm Sunday 7 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm

Player watch:

Bubba Watson – Perhaps this will be Bubba’s year. He loves the venue and the atmosphere that goes with this event. He’s been tied second the last two times out.

Hideki Matsuyama – Another player who excels at this venue. The talented Japanese followed tied fourth place in 2014 with a tie for second last season.

Brandt Snedeker – Last week’s winner is the form horse right now on the PGA Tour after tied third and second place finishes in the two weeks before his win. He has four top-10s to his name in the Phoenix Open.

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.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?