Waste Management Phoenix Open Preview

Tiger Woods is in the field for the Waste Management Phoenix Open

Tiger Woods starts in Phoenix Open
Tiger Woods starts in Phoenix Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The PGA Tour is in Arizona this week for the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are in the field for this hugely popular event.

Lowdown: The PGA Tour is in Arizona this week for the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale. Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are in the field for this hugely popular event.

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, Kevin Stadler came out on top when Bubba Watson missed a short putt on the 72nd green. Unfortunately, owing to a stress-fracture in his right hand, Stadler is unable to defend his title this week.

This is the best-attended event in world golf with a tournament record of 563,008 fans coming through the gate last year. On the Saturday, there were an astonishing 189,722 spectators in attendance. 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.

Tiger is making his first start in 2015 this week, and a return to this event for the first time in 13 years. This is an event that Tiger has never won, and few are giving him much chance of ending that duck this time out. He’d love to prove the doubters wrong.

Phil Mickelson is a favourite with the fans in this event. The former Arizona State player is a three-time winner: 1996, 2005 and 2013. In that last victory, he opened with an incredible round of 60.

Tom Weiskopf has overseen some renovation work to the course since last year’s tournament. New bunkering and the addition of more than 250 trees will add to the challenge and the greens have all been re-laid with TifEagle Bermuda grass.

Venue: TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona Date: Jan 29 – Feb 1 Course stats: par 71, 7,266 yards Purse: $6,300,000 Winner: $1,134,000 Defending Champion: Kevin Stadler (-16)

TV Coverage: Thursday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm Friday 30 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm Saturday 31 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm Sunday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 6pm

Player Watch: Phil Mickelson – The veteran loves this event and has three wins to his name, most recently in 2013. He showed solid form in last week’s Humana Challenge.

Hideki Matsuyama – The talented young Japanese player was tied fourth in this event on his debut in 2014. He was tied third at Kapalua and is maturing into one of the world’s best players.

Brendan Steele – Tied second last week, Steele has a great record at the Phoenix Open. He has finished in the top-six in this event each of the last three years.

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 Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He 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 history section of "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?