By: Jack Nevins
This past weekend brought great publicity to Arizona, as the Super Bowl and the Waste Management Phoenix Open were both played. While many were tailgating and partying for the big game, golf fans enjoyed their partying somewhere else one may consider far better, the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
The 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is like no other. It’s a 163-yard par three, where players need to clear 100 yards of desert and debris. The hole is surrounded by a grandstand, seating 20,000 fans. The course gets its nickname “The Stadium Course”, because of this grandstand. This is not your typical country club par three. Fans make the hole so special, as they are by far the rowdiest crowd in all of golf.
The Waste Management featured names such as: Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rham, Jordan Speith, and many more. The big name to look out for was Scottie Scheffler. Scheffler won this tournament last year with a playoff victory over Patrick Cantlay, giving him his first PGA Tour victory. Scottie shot a comfortable -3, 68 on Thursday, then a -7, 64 on Friday to advance to the weekend. A 68 on Saturday left the world number 1 in spot to move up on Sunday. Sunday brought great drama to the desert. The reigning Masters champion, the world number three, and a veteran from Canada were paired up in the final round. Nick Taylor, a two-time PGA Tour winner was 12 under and the pressure was on, being in a group with Scheffler and Rahm. As for the heavy hitters, Rahm was 11 under and Scheffler was 13 under coming into Sunday.
Taylor shot a 65, 6 under on Sunday, matching Scheffler. This 65 from Taylor was enough to knock off Rahm and move into second place. The world number one pulled away and edged out Taylor, making four birdies and an eagle on Sunday, shooting a final 19 under on the tournament. Scotties 19 under, secured him his second win in a row at TPC Scottsdale.
The Genesis Invitational and the Waste Management are two of the best back-to-back tournaments in the PGA Tour season. The Genesis is held in Los Angeles, California, at the infamous Riviera Country Club. The event is hosted by the one and only, Tiger Woods, who is also playing in the tournament. Woods was the story of round 1, posting a 69, in his first tournament back in over seven months. Woods finished with three straight birdies, to get him to two under on Thursday. Tiger was tied for 27th, and trailed the leaders, Max Homa and Keith Mitchell by 5 strokes heading into the second round.
Many became worried about Woods’ legs and if they would hold up. After the car crash two years ago following the Genesis Invitational, Woods was told he may never play golf again. But here he is, at 47 years old playing in one of the biggest tournaments in golf, on the biggest stage. The legs held up just fine after his round one, 2 under 69. Woods was shocked with the way he played “I was trying to calm myself down all day, figure out what the hell I’m doing out here. … I probably should have appreciated the fans more than I did, but there was so much going on in my head.” You could see a slight limp as he walked, which scared the golf world for how much longer the GOAT really has.
Nonetheless, Tiger is a generational talent and even if this is one of his last tournaments, he has left the deepest footprint on the world of golf.