The first Phoenix Open was held all the way back in 1932 when it was known as the Arizona Open. The tournament changed name to the Phoenix Open after just two tournaments and a year’s break. The Waste Management corporation, who are based in the neighbouring state of Texas, have backed this event since 2010 when they took over from FBR.
There have been three courses which have hosted the tournament, all of which are in Phoenix, Arizona. Between 1932 and 1986 the Phoenix Country Club and the Arizona Country club held the event for various spells. The current host, TPC Scottsdale, took over in 1987 and have held the Phoenix Open ever since.
The Phoenix Open traditionally plays over the weekend of the Super Bowl, with round four played on the day of the game. It has held this slot in the schedule since 1973.
The tournament’s most successful players are Gene Littler, Arnold Palmer, Mark Calcavecchia and Phil Mickelson who all have three wins. Calcavecchia and Mickelson have both set the record low 72-hole score of -28 (256) in 2001 and 2013 respectively. Those two players alongside Gary Waite have the lowest single round score of an 11 under par 60.
|TPC Scottsdale||Scottsdale, Arizona||7,266 yards||$7,300,000|
Phoenix Open Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||To Par||Winning Margin||Course|
|2021||Brooks Koepka||-19||1 Stroke||TPC Scottsdale|
|2020||Webb Simpson||-17||Playoff||TPC Scottsdale|
|2019||Rickie Fowler||-17||2 Strokes||TPC Scottsdale|
|2018||Gary Woodland||-18||Playoff||TPC Scottsdale|
|2017||Hideki Matsuyama||-17||Playoff||TPC Scottsdale|
|2016||Hideki Matsuyama||-14||Playoff||TPC Scottsdale|
|2015||Brooks Koepka||-15||1 Stroke||TPC Scottsdale|
|2014||Kevin Stadler||-16||1 Stroke||TPC Scottsdale|
|2013||Phil Mickleson||-28||4 Strokes||TPC Scottsdale|
|2012||Kyle Stanley||-15||1 Stroke||TPC Scottsdale|
The Stadium Course, TPC Scottsdale
This will be the second time in three weeks that the PGA Tour visits a Tom Weiskopf-designed course. The former PGA Tour player redesigned the North Course at Torrey Pines which hosted one round of the Farmers Insurance Open just as he reworked the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale.
There is no doubt that the Stadium Course is all the better for the fairly significant changes made to it ahead of the 2015 Phoenix Open. It is no longer the course that laid down for Phil Mickelson to shoot -28 in 2013. Players have to think about their lines thanks to work on the tees and bunkers, and the resurfacing of all the greens has made them genuinely world class, but the course has retained its feel as a genuine stadium course.
The traditional meaning of a stadium course is that there are viewing areas built around key areas for fans. TPC Scottsdale goes a step further with a number of risk/reward holes and a finishing stretch designed to produce swings in momentum and close finishes. The par four 17th hole is a perfect example of this. The green is drivable but protected by a water hazard to the left. In 2020 that hole yielded six eagles and 150 birdies but also 54 bogeys or worse and it always plays a key role in the business end of the tournament.
About the Waste Management Phoenix Open
Just look at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. It has grown from a fairly run of the mill PGA Tour event to one of the best known and well regarded tournaments in all of golf and it’s all down to the fans.
Half a million fans is the minimum number who head to the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale every year. That is facilitated by the nature of the course and the large amount of seating temporarily erected for each renewal. Allowing so many fans onto the course and giving them plenty to do as well as the golf (and plenty of places to get refreshments) has led to the development of an atmosphere unique to golf. If you thought the Ryder Cup could get lively, try a trip to Phoenix some time!
Subject to where you choose to view from, a day at the Phoenix Open can sometimes feel more like attending a football match than a golf tournament. It has become known as ‘The Greatest Show on Grass’ and #ThePeoplesOpen and is the sort of event that inspires envy in organisers of sporting events everywhere. With golfing authorities always looking at how to attract new fans, it seems this tournament may well provide the answer.
Aggregate Attendances at the Phoenix Open: 2010 – 2018
In 2019, the organisers deciding against releasing attendance records. Event organiser Chance Cozby explained, “We understand that we have the biggest event on the PGA Tour. When you look out there, you know the attendance is big. But it’s just something that we don’t want to focus on going forward.”
The Tale of 16 Through Two Holes in One
No hole at TPC Scottsdale better reflects the mood and atmosphere of the Phoenix Open than the 16th. On the card, there’s nothing daunting about the 16th. The par three is the shortest hole on the course and isn’t troubling from the tee with only a handful of bunkers and run off areas offering protection to a relatively straightforward green. The difficulty of 16 does not come from the hole itself, rather from what surrounds it.
This is the only fully enclosed golf hole in the world. That is to say, the entirety of the hole is surrounded by a stadium capable of holding 16,000 fans. Some of those fans are fortunate enough to enjoy the large corporate hospitality that’s available but the majority must get to TPC Scottsdale in the wee hours of the morning and make a mad dash for 16 when the gates open to take their place at a truly unique hole, known as “The Coliseum”, for obvious reasons.
Broadcasters and the event organisers have worked in tandem to build the legend of 16, including a decibel reader for the boos and cheers that follow each tee shot. That noise has never been louder than in 2015 when Francesco Molinari hit a hole in one having pitched the ball perfectly to the right of the pin an allowing a combination of spin and slope to feed the ball into the hole.
Every one of the thousands of fans in attendance went mad, cheering, screaming and even throwing their empty plastic beer glasses onto the hole. Molinari’s ace has been added to the legend of 16 but even that is not the hole’s most famous ace.
Back in 1997, before the seating was put in and the fans would simply congregate on the mounds that surrounded the 16th green, a 21 year old Tiger Woods sent everybody in attendance (and himself) delirious when he earned a hole in one from 152 yards with a nine iron.
Watching footage of the two aces shows that, despite the vast amount of development that’s occurred on 16 over the years, the spirit of the hole during the Phoenix Open remains the same.
Rowdy Atmosphere No Barrier to Scoring
Some traditionalists that don’t like golf crowds cheering or singing argue that the players need decorum in order to concentrate. Well, the stats from this event certainly don’t back that up. Whilst this isn’t the most testing course on the PGA Tour and organisers do set things up to encourage low scoring to please the fans, there could well be an argument that the relaxed yet charged atmosphere actually helps the players perform even better.
No golfer has won this event more times than Phil Mickleson and Lefty shot 28 under par to claim his third win in 2013. Coincidentally another three-time victor, Mark Calcavecchia, also completed his hat-trick with a staggering -28. The worst winning score this century is 14 under par so when you are picking out your bets for this one, make sure to opt for guys who know how to go seriously low.
This event, rather unromantically sponsored by Waste Management (a US company who do exactly what you would expect them to do) since 2010, has gone by a number of names over the years. Prior to gaining its current name it was the FBR Open between 2004 and 2009, having for a long time been simply named the Phoenix Open (1972-2003, 1951-1956 and 1935-1949). Before that it was the Phoenix Open Invitational for a spell, was called the Ben Hogan Open in 1950 and was played as the Arizona Open for the first two editions in 1932 and 1933.