Hideki Matsuyama looks to win his third straight Phoenix Open and improve his No. 5 PGA ranking
Golf is about to get rowdy. Starting Jan. 29 and going through Feb. 4, the Waste Management Phoenix Open, dubbed “the greatest show on grass,” is taking place in Scottsdale, Arizona. The tournament is famous for its notorious 16th hole, a par-3 which, with the addition of stadium seating, turns into “the Coliseum.” It’s one of the reasons this tournament has one of the largest galleries of any tournament in the world. Tiger Woods was famously showered with beer by adoring fans after he aced the 16th in 1997.
Last year, over 650,000 people came to be a part of the hype. Four nights of the tournament are spent inside a giant tent, where live music only contributes to the party atmosphere. This year the Coors Light Birds Nest concerts will feature Florida Georgia Line, OneRepublic and Zedd. The tournament also makes charity a priority, donating $86 million to various causes. Sustainability will be a goal throughout the weekend. Spectators are encouraged to wear the color green on Saturday to highlight the tournament’s commitment to protecting the environment. This will be the seventh year the tournament has had a “green out.” Over $390,000 has been raised and donated to sustainable causes throughout the history of this movement. The tournament boasts that it is zero waste; nothing has been sent to a landfill for five consecutive years.
The first round of the Open does not begin until Thursday. Before then spectators will gather for other events like the San Tan Ford Special Olympics Open, Phoenix Suns Charities Shot at Glory and Annexus Pro-Am. The Pro-Am portion will feature amateurs including swimmer Michael Phelps, former NFL star Emmitt Smith and former Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arian.
Then, on the 1st, all players entered in the Open will compete on the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale, a 71-par, 7261-yard course. All eyes will be on Hideki Matsuyama, a Japanese golfer currently ranked fifth in the PGA tour. He won the Waste Management Phoenix Open the past two years in a row, and many think he is capable of bringing home a third victory. However, the 132 other golfers competing for their share of the $6.9 million purse will not make it easy for him. 19 of the players are in the top 50 as ranked by the Official World Golf Rankings. Webb Simpson, last year’s runner-up, is back to fight for the win.
Other fan favorites competing include Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas, Patton Kizzire, Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth. Kizzire is currently in first place for the FedEx Cup, with Rahm in second. Fowler is in 15th place for the FedEx Cup. Thomas, at age 24, is ranked sixth for the FedEx Cup. Spieth, also only 24 years of age, boasts a total of 11 PGA Tour wins. The youngest golfer ever to win the Open was Ralph Guldahl, who, in 1932, won the tournament at age 20. But that’s not to say that age is an advantage. In 2009, Kenny Perry won the Open at age 48, making him the oldest ever winner. Phil Mickelson, currently age 47, is one of the most veteran golfers playing this year. He has a long history playing in the Waste Management Open and holds some of its records; perhaps this year he is hoping to challenge his own 72-hole record of 256 for the tournament. In total, Mickelson has won $3,956,315 from playing the Open, beating out even two-time winner Matsuyama whose earnings are $3,119,200.
Expectations are certainly high for the Open. Last year fans celebrated two holes-in-one. Jack McGuire aced the 12th and Chad Campbell the seventh. Fans are already flying into Arizona from across the country in anticipation of the tournament start. Here’s hoping this year’s excitement brings more beer showers.