The PGA Tour heads to the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale this week for the fan-favourite Waste Management Phoenix Open, which will feature five of the world’s top-10 players.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Webb Simpson shot 17-under-par 267 here last year and defeated his American compatriot Tony Finau in extra holes.
COURSE: The Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish and opened in 1987. It is known for its par-3 16th hole, which – during regular, non-Covid tournament weeks – is encased by grandstands that hold up to 20,000 people. The event won’t have quite the same atmosphere this week, with only 5,000 fans allowed through the gates each day due to coronavirus protocols.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
World No.3 Justin Thomas has gone close to winning here the past two times he’s teed it up, sharing third place last year and finishing outright third in 2019.
The American landed himself in hot water three weeks ago after using a homophobic slur during the Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, where he finished third. He has since made one start – in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour – and missed the cut, so it will be interesting to see how the 27-year-old responds this week.
“Excited to be back at @WMPhoenixOpen this week! These last few weeks have been challenging but have left me optimistic about my growth as a person,” Thomas posted on Twitter on Tuesday.
RIGHT: Webb Simpson claimed his sixth (of seven) PGA Tour title at TPC Scottsdale last year. PHOTO: Christian Petersen/Getty Images.
Another player making headlines recently has been World No.4 Xander Schauffele, who said Patrick Reed is “protected” by the PGA Tour after he landed himself in yet another rules row.
Headlines aside, Schauffele has been in stellar form this year, posting back-to-back top-five finishes, including last week’s runner-up to Reed.
The 27-year-old American has now recorded seven runner-up finishes since his most recent victory on the PGA Tour, which came at the Sentry Tournament of Champions back in January, 2019.
There’s no doubting Schauffele is an impressive talent. But can he turn those near misses into victories this season?
72-HOLE RECORD: Marc Calcavecchia (2001) and Phil Mickelson (2013) both reached 28-under-par 256 for their third and final victories at this event.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Aaron Baddeley (2007) and Bruce Crampton (1973).
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Jason Day and Matt Jones.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 7am – 11am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 7am – 11am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 10am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 LIVE 5am – 10:30am)
*AEDT, check local guides