Just imagine! you’re at the line in the Final Four, and you need to make two Free Throw shots to win the National Championship with thousands of fans chanting and banging giveaways. This doesn’t happen everyday on the PGA Tour, but it does this weekend at The Waste Management Phoenix Open. Phil Mickelson went to the “Free Throw Line”(The 16th Hole) last year, and put a 7-iron to 13 inches. And yes..he won the tournament!
The only question mark this week at the Phoenix open is, will the defending champion be able to play. Phil Mickelson hurt his back last week at the Farmers Open, and is a question mark when they tee it up on Thursday at TPC Scottsdale.
This is without a doubt, one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I wouldn’t want to see the raucous crowds ever week on the PGA Tour, but along with the Ryder Cup, it’s fun to watch once a year. Some of the players don’t like the atmosphere, but most embrace a week where everyone has to deal with the conditions.
I’m a little disappointed that the PGA has elected to ban the caddie races at the 16th hole, but I understand the reasoning. I just wonder if any of them will break the rules and race anyway.
TPC Scottsdale was built in 1986, and designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. It was one of the first of the TPC Stadium courses built specifically for PGA Tour events. The course is 7216 yards from the tips, and plays to a par of 71 for the big boys. The centerpiece is the par three 16th hole that is now totally enclosed.
The enclosed arena holds 20,000 crazy fans where there’s alcohol available. Need I say more? Tiger Woods made an Ace here in 1997, one of only eight. Andrew Magee made PGA Tour history on the 17th hole, a par 4 by making the first ace ever on a par four.
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), Phil Mickelson (1st round, 2013).
Phil Mickelson is the story here this week. Phil is an Arizona State graduate, and will be seeking his fourth win at this event.
A Mickelson victory also would break a tie with Johnny Miller for the most PGA TOUR wins in Arizona. Both have six – Mickelson also owns three wins at the old Nortel Open in Tucson; Miller won four times in Tucson and twice in Phoenix. … Last year’s cumulative scoring average of 68.95 was the lowest in the tournament’s 82-year history. The previous best came in 2003, when the field averaged 69.13. It also marked the first time four players finished at 24-under or lower. … Attending fans are encouraged to wear green on Saturday, in support of Waste Management’s eco-sensitive initiatives.
Phil won his 41st victory here last year, flirting with a 59 on Thursday, and won a wire-to-wire four-shot victory for the first of three wins in 2013 that included a major at the Open Championship in Scotland.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).
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