Altvater: Tiger Woods to make 2015 debut at Waste Management Phoenix OpenWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The Waste Management Phoenix Open is played on the same weekend as the NFL’s Super Bowl every year, but it breaks the theory that a golf tournament cannot be successful and garner media notice versus football.
On football’s biggest weekend it is has the highest attendance of any PGA Tour event. It drew over 580,000 fans last year and organizers are planning on over 600,000 this year. The increase is partly due to the announcement last week that Tiger Woods would be making an appearance.
The outdoor party that has become the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale is one of the most unique venues in all of golf. The “Stadium Hole” seats in excess of 30,000 fans and gives the hole a Fenway Park feel.
Woods set the crowd on fire in 1997, when he made a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th. He also made headline news when fans came to his aid and moved a small impediment, a waist-high 1000-pound rock, from a stymied lie in the waste area on No. 13 in 1999.
Woods has not played in the Waste Management Phoenix Open since 2001 and even with all of his historic moments there, it remains one of the few events he has never won.
Woods stated via TigerWoods.com:
“It will be great to return to Phoenix. The crowds are amazing and always enthusiastic, and the 16th hole is pretty unique in golf.”
Arizona favorite son Phil Mickelson will join Woods in the field. He has won the event on three separate occasions and is always one of the biggest draws.
Woods normally begins his year in the Middle East, where he earned seven-figure appearance fees from the oil-rich sheiks. His slippage from the top of the world golf ranking and sinking popularity ratings convinced tournament directors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that other golfers were better economic bargains than Tiger.
With no large appearance fees forthcoming, Woods needed a place to start his season and the folks at the Phoenix Open won the lottery.
Woods also announced that he would enter the Farmers Insurance Open the following week at Torrey Pines, Feb. 5-8. In past years, Torrey Pines has been his first appearance on the PGA Tour. He has won the event seven times and also won the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines.
The Waste Management Phoenix Open will now boast both Phil and Tiger in the field Jan. 29-Feb. 1. The biggest name in golf right now, Rory McIlroy will be playing in Dubai, but the “Golf Boys,” Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and Ben Crane are in the field, along with most of the top American names in golf.
The crowds will be even larger and more rowdy and the atmosphere more electric. Can you imagine what the final round will be like, if both Woods and Mickelson are near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday?
Fred Altvater offers golf tips and videos at www.toledoohiogolflessons.com. Email him at BackNine@toledofree press.com or follow him on Twitter @tolohgolfr.