This week, some of the world’s best players will arrive at TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course is one of golf’s most unique and always serves as a pressure cooker for rookies and veterans alike, often resulting in some great drama come Sunday afternoon.
The Stadium Course’s par-3 16th hole includes grandstands with a capacity of more than 20,000. Expect the crowd to go wild if any magic occurs–Tiger Woods’ ace on No. 16 back in 1997 still stands as one of the single most thrilling moments of his career. Only seven other men have accomplished the feat in a Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The Open isn’t just a golf tournament anymore.
It’s a party. And a concert.
It’s a place to see and be seen. It’s cigars and high heels, short dresses and sunshine and oh, yeah, some pretty spectacular golf, too.
Simply put, it’s the most distinctive annual sporting event in Arizona.
“It’s amazing how it’s grown,” said former PGA Tour Commissioner Deane Beman.
Oh, everyone knew the Open would look and feel different when it was first played at TPC Scottsdale in 1987. The course in north Scottsdale was bigger and broader than the squeezed-in confines of Phoenix Country Club. PGA Tour pro Steve Jones, who played in the ’87 event won by Paul Azinger, said he looked around at the spectator mounds built into the course and thought, “This place can hold a lot of people.”
Sure enough, the ’87 event drew 257,000 compared with 186,000 the year before at Phoenix Country Club.
But no one envisioned the Open becoming the best-attended event on the PGA Tour. For that, credit the Phoenix Thunderbirds and two guys named Tiger and Phil.
COURSE: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), 7,266 yards, par 71. The most boisterous venue on the PGA TOUR celebrates its 30th year as the tournament’s home, with more than 400,000 fans coming through the gates every year. More than 20,000 pack the “Coliseum” surrounding the par-3 16th hole, an atmosphere that can be energizing or intimidating to those on the tee. Tiger Woods aced No.16 in his first Phoenix Open in 1997, one of just eight recorded at the hole. Andrew Magee made PGA TOUR history four years later with his ace at No.17 – the first on a par-4. The Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish design got $12 million in upgrades two summers ago.
- FEDEXCUP:Winner receives 500 points.
- CHARITY:Thunderbirds Charities, which last year topped the $100 million mark in charitable giving since the host organization was formed in 1937. The 2015 event produced more than $9 million for Arizona charities, with money sprinkled among some 200 outlets in recent years.
- FIELD WATCH:Rickie Fowler, now No.4 in the world after victory at Abu Dhabi, and three-time champion Phil Mickelson highlight a lineup that boasts nine of the top 25 in the World Ranking. … World No.5 Bubba Watson, a former Scottsdale resident, returns after sharing runner-up honors each of the past two years. … FedExCup leader Kevin Kisner heads a group of seven winners from the season’s first 10 events, seeking to become the first multiple winner of 2015-16. … Jack Maguire, a former Florida State standout who turned pro in January, makes his professional debut on a sponsor exemption.
- 72-HOLE RECORD:256, Mark Calcavecchia (2001), Phil Mickelson (2013).
- 18-HOLE RECORD:60, Grant Waite (4th round, 1996), Mark Calcavecchia (2nd round, 2001), Phil Mickelson (2nd round, 2005, and 1st round, 2013).