The First Look: Waste Management Phoenix Open
January 26, 2018
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- January 26, 2018
Hideki Matsuyama wins back-to-back at Waste Management
Hideki Matsuyama returns to TPC Scottsdale in quest of the PGA TOUR’s first three-peat in seven seasons, though he’ll have to rise above a lineup that includes reigning FedExCup champion Justin Thomas, current leader Patton Kizzire and Jordan Spieth.
Three-time Phoenix Open champion Phil Mickelson is also back for his 29th appearance, breaking a tie with Gene Littler for most starts. The local faction also now includes Jon Rahm, another former Arizona State star now No.2 in the world after winning the CareerBuilder Challenge.
FULL FIELD: Click here to see who's playing
FIELD NOTES: Rickie Fowler, who Matsuyama dispatched in four playoff holes two years ago, gives the field five of the current top seven players in the world rankings. … In all, 10 of the world’s top 25 are set for TPC Scottsdale, as well as 18 of the top 25 in the FedExCup standings. … Steve Stricker tees it up for his first PGA TOUR start since last year’s FedExCup playoff opener. He captained the U.S. Presidents Cup squad to victory last September, and teamed with Sean O’Hair to win last month’s QBE Shootout. … Julian Suri, a Florida native who won twice in Europe last year, will tee it up on a sponsor invite for the second consecutive week.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.
STORYLINES: Matsuyama seeks to become the first to go back-to-back-to-back at the same venue since Stricker won three straight John Deere Classics from 2009-11. Matsuyama’s first two came in playoffs; no one (at least since World War II) has swept three straight via extra holes. … Matsuyama has finished no worse than fourth in four visits to Phoenix. … Webb Simpson, last year’s playoff runner-up, owns six consecutive top-15 finishes at TPC Scottsdale going back to 2011. … Mickelson, whose history in Phoenix dates to 1989, tries once again to become its first four-time winner. Littler, Arnold Palmer and Mark Calcavecchia also have won three in Phoenix. … Last year’s TPC Scottsdale crowds of 655,434 again easily surpassed the Arizona Cardinals’ 2017 home attendance (513,741) – along with every other NFL team except the Dallas Cowboys.
COURSE: TPC Scottsdale (Stadium), 7,261 yards, par 71. The most populous – and most raucous – venue on the PGA TOUR brings more than half a million spectators to the Scottsdale foothills over the course of a week. Some 20,000 each day pack the “Coliseum” that rings the par-3 16th, an atmosphere that raises the adrenaline for anyone on the tee. Tiger Woods aced No.16 in his first Phoenix Open in 1997, one of just nine recorded at the hole. That doesn’t count the robot that turned the trick at the 2016 pro-am, drawing yet another beer shower. Andrew Magee made history in 2001 by holing his tee shot at No.17 – still the only TOUR ace on a par-4. The Tom Weiskopf/Jay Morrish design got $12 million in upgrades four summers ago.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 256, Mark Calcavecchia (2001), Phil Mickelson (2013).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 60, Grant Waite (4th round, 1996), Mark Calcavecchia (2nd round, 2001), Phil Mickelson (2nd round, 2005, and 1st round, 2013).
LAST YEAR: Matsuyama won in a playoff for the second-straight year, another four-hole overtime in which he dispatched Webb Simpson with a 10-foot birdie. Simpson forced the playoff with three birdies in his last four holes to post a 7-under-par 64, while Matsuyama’s birdie attempt to win in regulation stopped just short. They matched pars for the first three extra holes, before Simpson found the green at the drivable par-4 17th – with a bunker in the way of an eagle putt. A lag putt could get no closer than 25 feet, and a birdie try burned the edge. It was Matsuyama’s second win of the season and fifth worldwide in a 3 ½-month span that included the WGC-HSBC Champions. His fourth PGA TOUR win also broke a tie with Shigeki Maruyama for most by a Japanese pro.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 2-3:45 p.m. (GC), 4-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 9:15 a.m.-3 p.m. (featured groups), 3-7 p.m. (featured holes). Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m. (featured holes). Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. (featured holes).
RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. Saturday, 2-7 p.m. Sunday, 1-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).