In 2001, the host course to the Waste Management Phoenix Open also served as the site for Andrew Magee's 1 on the par-4 17th hole thanks to an assist from Tom Byrum's putter. But for as much joy as TPC Scottsdale has furnished, there has been pain, too.
Last year, Spencer Levin entered the final round with a six-stroke lead. He'd go on to card a 4-over 75 and settle for third place, two strokes back of first-time PGA TOUR winner, Kyle Stanley, who started the finale eight swings in arrears. While Stanley's comeback avenged his late meltdown the previous week at Torrey Pines and carried on a theme that would recur throughout 2012, the fact that his success occurred at TPC Scottsdale specifically wasn't news. In fact, it marked the third consecutive year that the 54-hole leader failed to shut the door.
In 2010, Brandt Snedeker led by one after three rounds, and then shot 78 to share 43rd place. The exciting homestretch beat him up. After walking away from the par-5 15th hole with par, Snedeker took a bogey on 16, and then closed with 6s on the drivable 17th and the challenging par-4 18th, a finishing hole that has averaged over par in each of the last four years. Hunter Mahan, who began the last round four strokes back, emerged to win by one.
The following year, Tommy Gainey was bidding for a wire-to-wire breakthrough victory. Also up by one after 54 holes, Gainey turned in a 74 to place T8. He remained in the hunt until a triple bogey at 17. Mark Wilson defeated Jason Dufner in a playoff.
As that litany of contenders illustrates, TPC Scottsdale doesn't cater to any one style of play or skill set. It's annually ranked among the easiest par 71s on the PGA TOUR. However, while it's not without its challenges, it is does manage to avoid pigeonholing on paper. Accuracy off the tee has been down the last two years, but desert golf can allow for aggressive lines, especially when greens average 6,250 feet and run no faster than 12 on the Stimpmeter. Still, because of the trouble areas around the putting surfaces and the fact that TPC Scottsdale has ranked inside the top 20 most challenging in proximity to the hole on TOUR in eight of the last nine years, the tandem of distance control on approach and a confident putting stroke should prove valuable.
Dry, seasonable weather will take hold after an early-week system moves east. Sunshine and calm winds will accompany high temperatures right around 70 degrees.