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January 25 2013

7:06 PM

First Look: WM Phoenix Open


The field will be strong at TPC Scottsdale but the par-3 16th is likely to steal the show. (Petersen/Getty Images)

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.com correspondent

Here’s your first look at next week’s Waste Management Phoenix Open

• COURSE: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), 7,216 yards, par 71. Built in 1986 specifically for the Open’s move to the suburbs, the Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish design quickly carved its niche as the best-attended – and most raucous – venue on the PGA TOUR. The centerpiece is the par-3 16th, now an enclosed arena that holds some 20,000 spectators at once. Tiger Woods scored a hole-in-one there in 1997, one of just eight at "The Coliseum." Andrew Magee made PGA TOUR history in 2001 with his ace at No. 17 -- the first on a par-4.

• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.

• CHARITY: Thunderbirds Charities, which lists almost 200 recipients of contributions from the host organization to assist “families, children and others in need.”

• FIELD WATCH: Two-time champion Phil Mickelson, playing in his 23rd Phoenix Open, and Masters titleholder Bubba Watson head a field that includes seven of the top 25 in the current Official World Golf Ranking. Watson hopes to return to action after flu symptoms forced him to withdraw before this week’s stop at Torrey Pines. … The lineup also features two of the season’s first three winners, as Russell Henley (Sony Open) and Brian Gay (Humana Challenge) seek to become the fastest to two victories since Mark Wilson won at Hawaii and Phoenix two years ago.

• 72-HOLE RECORD: 256, Mark Calcavecchia (2001).

• 18-HOLE RECORD: 60, Grant Waite (4th round, 1996), Mark Calcavecchia (2nd round, 2001), Phil Mickelson (2nd round, 2005).

• LAST YEAR: One week after his misfortune at Torrey Pines’ 72nd hole, Kyle Stanley experienced the other side of the spectrum when he overcame an eight-shot deficit to Spencer Levin on the final day to win by one. Stanley fired a 6-under-par 65 to finish, grabbing the lead with a birdie at No.14. Levin struggled to a 75, falling off the pace with a double bogey at the par-5 15th when his drive bounced off a cart path and came to rest against some cacti. Ben Crane (66) wound up taking second, with Levin finishing two shots back.

• STORYLINES: Phil Mickelson, accorded “favorite son” status going back to his Arizona State days, will try for a third Phoenix crown to go with victories in 1996 and 2005. He also lost a playoff to J.B. Holmes in 2008 and has six other top-10 finishes. Mickelson will make his 23rd consecutive appearance at TPC Scottsdale, with career earnings of $2,578,782. … Watson, a former Scottsdale resident, competes in the old neighborhood for the first time since adopting a son and moving to Orlando last spring. … Stanley, Scott Stallings and Tommy Gainey are the only men to enter each of the season’s first five events.

• SHORT CHIPS: Martin Kaymer, who sealed Europe’s Ryder Cup victory last September, and three-time major champion Padraig Harrington will make their season debuts. It’ll be Kaymer’s first event since taking up PGA TOUR membership during the offseason. … Holmes, a two-time champion at TPC Scottsdale, returns after a year’s hiatus as he recovered from brain surgery. … Stanley’s victory last year made him the first to win in his Phoenix debut since the tournament moved to TPC Scottsdale. … Henley, who won the Sony Open in his rookie debut, has posted a 64 or better in four of his eight rounds thus far in 2013.

• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 4-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-3 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (NBC).

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