Sophia Popov, winner of the 2019 AIG Women's Open at Royal Troon, has called for a women's equivalent of the WM Phoenix Open, saying she wants to "have just as much fun" as Harry Higgs and Joel Dahmen, who both went shirtless on the 16th hole in scenes never witnessed before on the PGA Tour.
The 2022 edition of the tournament was controversial, unique and entertaining with two holes-in-one on the signature stadium 16th hole and hundreds, if not thousands, of beer cans thrown onto that specific golf hole from the onlooking fans.
It then took an even stranger turn when Higgs and Dahmen went shirtless, after a 15-foot par putt was holed, and the fans once again covered the green and surrounding areas in beer cans. It was certainly a moment where golf opened itself up to the wider sporting audience, many of whom may still think the game is stuffy and outdated.
"Can we please have a WMPO for women too….I wanna have just as much fun as @harryhiggs1991 and @Joel_Dahmen had on 16 today at a golf tournament," Popov wrote on Twitter. Many fans were in agreement with the German, with one user commenting that the Phoenix Open could be a mixed event and another saying that both tournaments could be played back-to-back.
The LPGA Tour doesn't currently run an event in Arizona, after the Founders Cup was moved from Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix to Mountain Ridge Country Club in New Jersey. The WM Phoenix Open, coined as the Peoples' Open, is the best-attended event in all of golf with hundreds of thousands of fans lining the fairways, and the stadium, each year.
Popov could certainly be onto something here and the Tour and its sponsors could be missing a trick. The fans would likely buy into an LPGA Tour Phoenix Open and TV viewers would surely love to see the stadium 16th hole on our screens more than just four days per year.
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Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news, features, courses and travel sections as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as four Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays at West Byfleet Golf Club in Surrey, where his handicap index floats anywhere between 2-5. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!
Elliott is currently playing:
Driver: Titleist TSR4
3 wood: Titleist TSi2 HL
Irons: Mizuno MP-H4 3-iron, Mizuno MP5 4-PW
Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58
Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5
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