The PGA version of Golf’s “Greatest Show on Earth.” The circus atmosphere that is the WM Phoenix Open is the epitome of fan participation. Rory McIlroy showed up along with all the leading professionals at Golf’s version of the Roman Coliseum. At the end of the day Scottie Scheffler’s putting was the difference maker to win the tournament. Scheffler converted an eagle putt on No. 13 that put him in the lead for good. He converted a pressure packed ten footer on 16 gave him a two stroke advantage over Nick Taylor. Scheffler took the lead after shooting 64 in the second round and held off the rest of the field including Jon Rahm. Rahm was on Scheffler’s tail with his prodigious driver but at an errant tee shot on the 15th hole on Sunday sealed his fate. The final group of the day-Scheffler, Nick Taylor and Rahm provided a lot of the drama for the day especially Taylor who made a number of clutch putts on the back nine to stay close. It was maddening to the fans that the final group all missed the green at the 16th amphitheater hole to a cascade of boos from about 40,000 fans in the portable stadium setting that is the trademark of this event. Scheffler recaptured the World No. 1 slot from McIlroy with the victory Scheffler’s route to No. 1 began with his first victory at WM Open in 2022. His putter seems to assume magical qualities at TPC Scottsdale as he drained clutch putt after clutch putt driving him to victory. Attendance statistics at the WM Open are no longer disclosed but it is estimated that this year’s event drew at least 800,000 people. Former WM Champion Rickie Fowler is beginning to get back into form as he finished 10th in the event and recorded a hole in one on the difficult par 3, 7th hole. Jason Day who is also been recuperating from a number of back issues over the past few years finished 5th. Both Fowler and Day may soon be heard from as the Masters approaches in April.
Scheffler’s winning score of -19 under was typical for this event but the TPC course is a great challenge for the field. The course offers opportunities for risk/reward birdies on the finishing holes that follow holes 12-14, which tend to be the most difficult holes.
The best news coming out of the world of professional golf this week was Tiger Woods’ announcement that he will play in next weeks Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club. Tiger hasn’t played since the Open Championship last July and will give the event a spectacular boost. Tiger believes he can contend and even win the event and who are we to doubt his spectacular skills. .
I must admit that I’m beginning to miss some of the players that have defected to the LIV Tour. Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Cameron Smith and others are all missing these events. These players will never admit that they are missing these competitions but their public profile is rapidly diminishing. The LIV Tour has responded with a TV offering from a channel, I’ve never heard of and I doubt this TV deal will be able to put a dent or compete with the PGA Tour. We will see a bunch of these players at the Masters as the Masters invitations are independent of PGA governance. Perhaps there is a future for reconciliation of these tours but it will not happen as the current trend of suing the PGA Tour as a monopoly is not exactly a tool for reconciliation.