Hello. It is us, the survivors of the 2019 polar vortex. Chicago is beyond the wall, the white walkers have arrived, and all we have left to do is wait for our imminent doom. If you are reading this, we would like you to know that we are doing okay. Our spirits are high, as are our gas bills.
Luckily, there is golf to help pass the time! The PGA Tour heads to Arizona for the drunkest weekend of the year, and the European Tour is in the controversial territory of Saudi Arabia. It’s going to be a weekend full of intrigue and debate!
The loudest theater in golf takes center stage this weekend as the Waste Management Phoenix Open gets underway in Scottsdale. It is stadium golf in its truest form, but the field is always good. Justin Thomas, Xander Schauffele, Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm, and others headline the field in Arizona. WMPO Tee Times
One for the Family
Gary Woodland is the defending champion this week after defeating Chez Reavie in a playoff last year. Reavie birdied the final hole to get into the playoff but fell to Woodland’s par in extra time. It was GW’s first win since 2013, but he returns to Arizona in excellent form this season. He already has two runner-up finishes and a T-5 this season. Notably, Woodland continued the trend of playoff finishes that cut into the Super Bowl (3 years running now).
Hideki – This is going to be a phenomenal litmus test to see how strong Hideki’s game really is. He is coming off a T-3 last week and won the WMPO in both 2016 and 2017. A good performance at TPC Scottsdale will help set the tone for a strong year ahead.
Lone Wolff – There is only one amateur in the field this week, but he is already a household name. Matt Wolff is a sophomore on Oklahoma State’s golf team and is viewed as the next big thing in the amateur game. His swing is incredibly unusual, but it is powerful and has helped him ascend to the top of the Golfstat rankings and notch wins at Pebble Beach and Olympia Fields.
Last Call – Johnny Miller will make his last broadcast appearance of his career on Saturday afternoon. Johnny has never been afraid to speak his mind on a telecast, and his candor will be dearly missed.
16 – Golf’s forefront stadium hole draws all the hype, but the par-5 15th, short par-4 17th and testing finisher give TPC Scottsdale an exciting closing stretch. The final four provide theatrics and offer scoring chances that can swing the tides. The final four make up for a sleepy first 14 at the Weiskopf redesign.
Paulie likes bombers and precise iron players this week in the desert. Check out who he likes for your one and done and DraftKings lineups this week here.
The most controversial event of the week is the European Tour’s inaugural Saudi International. Thanks to generous appearance fees, the event draws four of the world’s top five players, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. The stars are joined by a host of other high-profile European Tour players, but there will be some no-shows. In the fall, Tiger Woods turned down €2.5 million Euro to attend, and more recently, Paul Casey turned down a reported €300,000. Social issues cast a dark cloud over the event due to Saudi Arabia’s long history of human rights issues. European Tour headman Keith Pelley has been under fire for hosting the event, especially after the Jamal Khashoggi tragedy. Tee Times
Campus Update with Will Knights
The first NCAA tournament of the spring semester wrapped up on Tuesday with the Arizona Wildcats coming from five shots back to win the Arizona Intercollegiate. Arizona State started the day with the lead, but the Wildcats shot four rounds of 66 or better to claim the title. Trevor Werbylo led the way for Arizona, shooting rounds of 69-68-65 to tie for second. Werbylo’s strong play was no match for Texas A&M’s Chandler Phillips, who won the event by 8 shots (67-63-64).
The Web.com Tour heads south to Bogota this week for the Colombia Championship. Tee Times
A 45 minute round of golf? Read about this new form of golf that gets you in and out in under an hour. Story
There are quite a few architecturally-significant courses available to play in USGA qualifiers. The guys over at NewClub put together a nice list.
The Latest Podcasts and Articles
It’s never sunny in Philadelphia
Philly is widely considered to be one of the best golf cities in the country. Not only are the private courses amazing, but there are some low budget places that are well worth your time. Read Andy Johnson’s breakdown of the courses in the area that provide the best bang for your buck. Read the story
Episode 117: Curtis James
Old Elm Club’s Director of Agronomy Curtis James joins the podcast. Andy and Curtis discuss his background, how agronomy and turf work together, how a municipal course could improve on a shoestring budget and the transformation of the Old Elm Club. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify
Shotgun Start:Brooksy rages against slow play, Saudi International critiques, and Phoenix Open picks
We run through the schedule on this Wednesday edition, spotlighting the PGA Tour’s annual stop in Phoenix and the Euro Tour’s inaugural stop in Saudi Arabia. In keeping with tradition, neither of these make the cut for Andy’s “event of the week.” For Phoenix, we discuss Matt Wolff’s debut, the TPC Scottsdale finish, and laugh about those odd PXG ads that emerged. For Saudi Arabia, the tone is a bit more serious and somber as we discuss the players’ decisions to patronize and the Euro Tour’s decision to even hold an event in a country with such a horrible human rights record. In news, we champion Brooks Koepka’s fiery quotes about his peers inability to keep pace, discuss the new distance report from the USGA and R&A, and some schedule choices from high-profile players. We cap it off with Paulie’s pick for an overwhelming favorite for any one-and-done pools as well as some preferred player types for Phoenix. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify