‘Fore the Fans’: The People’s Open returns with new features

‘Fore the Fans’: The People’s Open returns with new features

By Joe McHugh

With a competitive field and a multitude of golf and charity experiences, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is returning to TPC Scottsdale.

“It is going to be great to have everybody back out on the course and experience the Waste Management Open the way we all know and love it,” tournament Chairman Michael Golding says.

One of Arizona’s premier golf tournaments, “The Greatest Show on Grass” surrounds a 162-yard par 3.

The 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open hits the greens from Monday, February 7, to Sunday, February 13. “The People’s Open” has been named the Tournament of the Year by the PGA Tour four times in the past seven years (2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019). The 2022 edition will mark the 87th playing of the event (one of the five oldest events on the PGA Tour) and the 13th with Waste Management as title sponsor.

The field, as of January 21, has 20 players ranked in the Top 50 of the Official World Golf Rankings, led by Jon Rahm, who sits first in the standings, and followed closely by Justin Thomas at fifth.

The other top-ranked players include Hideki Matsuyama (10), Sam Burns (13), Scottie Scheffler (14), Jordan Spieth (15), Tony Finau (17), Brooks Koepka (18), Abraham Ancer (20), Jason Kokrak (21), Billy Horschel (23), Matt Fitzpatrick (24), Webb Simpson (29), Talor Gooch (31), Max Homa (34), Kevin Kisner (36), Corey Conners (38), Russell Henley (40), Lucas Herbert (43) and Seamus Power (49).

The 132 players will vie for the $8.2 million purse, the $1.476 million first-place check, and 500 FedExCup points. PGA Tour members have until 5 p.m. Friday, February 4, to commit to play in the WM Phoenix Open. Eligible players are assigned one of 34 PGA Tour priority ranking categories based on their past performance on tour. The field will continue to change as players with higher priority rankings commit to play in the open.

“We are expecting one of, if not the best, fields in the history of our tournament, with our field getting stronger with each announcement we make,” Golding says.

The 2022 tournament will also include ASU freshman Preston Summerhays, who received the first sponsor exemption for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“I first started standard bearing at the Waste Management Phoenix Open when I was 10 years old, so this event is like a major championship to me,” Summerhays says. 

“To be able to compete against the very best players in the world, in this amazing atmosphere, in my own backyard, is a dream come true.”

The Thunderbirds have five exemptions to award for the 2022 WM Phoenix Open. The remaining four exemptions will be announced leading up to the tournament.

In the running

James Hahn is expected to make a great showing at the open, as he has performed well since 2017 with three top-25 finishes.

Shooting an 11th place-worthy -12 in 2018, a 25th place-worthy -9 in 2020, and a 10th place-worthy -15 in 2021, Hahn could be in prime striking distance for this year’s title.

“Any opportunity where I can play a home game, sleep in my own bed and have the support of a hometown crowd, it’s really exciting for me as a PGA Tour professional,” Hahn says.

Hahn is also coming into the Waste Management Phoenix Open with another plus — his health. In 2019, Hahn was sidelined for eight months with a partial tear in his elbow.

Healthy, he returned in 2021, when he had one of the best years of his career, scoring five top 10 finishes. Hahn carried that momentum into the 2021-22 season, where he has a top 15 finish at the ZOZO Championship in Japan and a 27th-place bid at the World Wide Technology Championship.

“It was one of those stretches where my putter got hot,” Hahn says about 2021. “I was making a lot of puts, and I was feeling good and I was fresh.”

Full-throttle event

Although it is primarily a golf tournament, the Waste Management Phoenix Open has plenty of peripheral events.

This year features a 16th hole, 16,000-person-capacity coliseum so country’s Thomas Rhett and Old Dominion can kick off the festivities.

“It is going to be a spectacular night and, certainly, a tradition that I think will have a stable place as a part of our week for years to come,” Golding says.

The 2021 iteration has a new presenting sponsor, Taylor Morrison, which leads to the Fairway House, a 36,000-square-foot structure for general admission attendees.

Marked with a large American flag, the Fairway House is parallel to the 12th hole fairway at the highest point of the golf course.

“You could spend a day watching four holes of golf from the highest point on our golf course,” Golding says. “It is a great example of how important it is for the Thunderbirds to have a place for the general admission population to have a great experience at a hospitality venue like no other on our golf course.”

The week’s worth of events caters to golfers and nongolfers. On Monday, February 7, practice rounds are free for attendees. The pro-am follows with evening concert experiences at the Coors Light Birds Nest with Diplo and Cole Swindell on Wednesday, February 9; Sam Hunt and Russell Dickerson on Thursday, February 10; Macklemore, Quinn XCII and Ayokay on Friday, February 11; and Kygo, Sam Feldt and Forester on Saturday, February 12.

“We are ‘The People’s Open,’” Golding says. “We are dedicated to our fans coming out, having a great day, and being able to watch some great golf.”

 

The Waste Management Phoenix Open

WHEN: Monday, February 7, to Sunday, February 13

WHERE: TPC Scottsdale-Stadium Course, 17020 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale

COST: Tickets start at $50

INFO: wmphoenixopen.com

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