The golf season is really ramping up now with the European Tour heading to Dubai, but perhaps one of the most exciting PGA tournaments takes place at TPC Scottsdale, which features the brilliant Colliseum hole.
Described as ‘The Greatest Show on Grass’, the stadium course at TPC Scottsdale must be on every golf fans’ bucket list, if for nothing else the par 3 16th, the only enclosed golf hole on tour – and it boasts a capacity of 20,000 – and is a sight to behold.
— TPC Scottsdale AGR (@TPCScottsdaleAG) January 25, 2017
The defending champion is outstanding Japanese stick master Hideki Matsuyama. This Open has not seen back-to-back winners since 1975 when the legendary Johnny Miller won.
Nobody has won this more than American favourite Phil Mickelson, who has taken the sizeable cheque one three occasions and he will again be in Phoenix to try for a record breaking fourth.
Whilst the Show in the Arizona desert is ongoing, the European Tour is still enjoying sunning its back in the East, with the next stop being the Omega Dubai Desert Classic taking place at the now famed Emirates Club.
Masters champion Danny Willett won this title last year and it was the catalyst for a memorable year for Yorkshireman, and the Englishman is in good spirits as he prepares to start his defence.
“Last year this tournament was the start of really what was an amazing season. I played some pretty good golf in the run up, then it was one of them weeks where everything kind of clicked nicely,” Willett said.
Last year a brilliant putt on the 18th was enough to seal a final round 69 as he finished one shot clear of Andy Sullivan and Rafa Cabrera Bello after an absorbing Sunday afternoon tussle.
Just two months on from that win in Dubai, Willett experienced the finest moment of his career so far, producing a gutsy performance to win the Masters Tournament and become the first Englishman to don the Green Jacket for 20 years.
But Willett is not the only Major winner in this field, with Hernik Stenson and Martin Kaymer both enjoying their trips to the desert.
Oh yes, and there is an American called Tiger Woods in the field – one to keep an eye on.
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
In Arizona, I’m going for some home success and the three for me would be Phil Mickelson, Patrick Reed and Matt Kucher
And for the European Tour in Dubai. I can see Henrik Stenson again being in contention with young Matthew Fitzpatrick and it might surprise a few but I think Ian Poulter could turn it on.
The Bookie says
We caught up with Ladbrokes’ senior golf trader Peter D’Arcy ahead of the weekend’s action to gauge the markets.
“We’ve seen a lot of interest in Bubba Watson who has finished in the top 20 on his previous five trips to the Phoenix Open, three time winner Phil Mickelson and favourite Jordan Spieth
“There is also last year’s winner Matsuyama who had a great end to 2016 winning four of his last five events (finishing runner up in the other tournament), however he’d be disappointed with his last two starts. His only three outings at the Phoenix Open have seen him finish 4th, 2nd and 1st which show how well the best ball striker on the PGA tour’s game suits the course.
“Looking at Dubai, Henrik Stenson has a very good chance, starting off as favourite.
“Last year the winner was Danny Willett which took him to number 13 in the World Rankings and for the past five years the Masters has been won by a player in the top 20 in the world, so unless Stenson, Garcia or Willett win in Dubai I can’t see the double happening this year.
“And on Tiger – We were 4/7 for Tiger to Make the Cut before the start of the tournament and 40/1 to win.”