Scottsdale, AZ – The 2024 WM Phoenix Open, referred to in Arizona as the “People’s Open,” along with the “Greenest Show on Grass,” got off to a rocky start this year when Mother Nature decided to rename this year’s Open “The Wettest and Coldest Show on Grass.”
Set in the rugged Sonoran Desert and surrounded by the stunning and beautiful McDowell Mountains, The WM Phoenix Open showcases some of the top players in golf coupled with the largest crowds of any golf event in the world. This annual gathering has become both a tradition and celebration here in the city of Scottsdale.
If you haven’t had a chance to attend the Phoenix Open, you will never understand or appreciate how people from every walk of life can come together for four days and enjoy something much bigger than just watching a golf tournament. It’s truly an amazing moment in time shared by professional golfers and fans alike. I recommend that you put it on your “Bucket List.”
Although, not one of the PGA Tour’s Signature Events in 2024, it’s still by far the most exciting and fan-oriented event of the year.
Last year, the event had what was then called “Designated” status and offered a $20 million purse, of which winner Scottie Scheffler claimed $3.6 million. But this year the purse was reduced to $8.8 million, with the winner receiving (just) $1.584 million which is less than half of last year’s winnings.
The WM Phoenix Open brings immeasurable attention and respect to the Stadium Course, designed by the team of Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish. The course, which was renovated in 2014, is most famous for its par-3, 16th hole which transforms into “The Coliseum” during tournament play and provides fans with one of the most exciting settings in professional sports.
This par-71 course measures 7,266 yards from the tournament tees. Trouble comes in the form of 72 bunkers that are deep and strategically placed in the fairways, and around the greens. Water comes into play on six of the holes, including three of the last four.
After play was suspended just after 12:30 p.m. on Thursday due to “unplayable conditions,” the PGA Tour announced in the late afternoon that Round 1 would continue at 4 p.m. A little more than half the field had already teed off, with Sahith Theegala (-5) making it through 14 holes and sitting atop the leaderboard.
Once play resumed, the rain subsided, but a cold blustery wind made the remainder of the afternoon a challenge for players and fans. First-round play was suspended due to darkness with the final threesomes just completing their sixth hole of the day.
Nick Taylor finished his opening round as the outright leader on Friday after firing a record-setting 11-under 60. He was 3-under through six holes on Thursday before play was suspended due to weather. He resumed his first round on Friday morning and continued his assault on the TPC Scottsdale Course by finishing with eight birdies and no bogeys over his last 12 holes.
The leaderboard at the completion of Round 1 was Nick Taylor at 11 under. Andrew Novak was two back at -9, while Maverick McNealy was one further back at -8. Doug Ghim and Sahith Theegala were tied at -6 and rounded out the leaderboard’s top 5.
Prior to the start of the second round on Friday, the tour announced a 90-minute delay due to lingering frost as temperatures in the Arizona desert reached near-freezing in the overnight hours. This delay would almost certainly make finishing both the first round and second rounds on Friday unlikely. It also meant that anymore delays, or over the weekend, would most like require a Monday finish.
Taylor, whose 11-under opening round tied the course record at TPC Scottsdale, began his second round just 40 minutes after completing first round, shot a 1-under 70.
“Yeah, it’s weird feeling disappointed after a 70,” said Taylor. “But this morning was pretty hard to follow up. I Didn’t hit it great off the tee this afternoon, so I was grinding a little bit early on but held it together
“This morning was obviously pretty special to make all those putts and shoot 60.”
More than half the field did not complete their second round when play was suspended due to darkness. The second round was scheduled to resume on Saturday morning.
The leaderboard at the completion of Round 2 had Sahith Theegala ahead at -13. Andrew Novak and Nick Taylor were one back at -12. Maverick McNealy was alone in fourth at -10, one clear of Doug Ghim (-9). There were five players tied at -8.
73 players made the cut at -2. Notables who missed the cut were Stewart Cink, Luke Donald, Max Homa, Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland, and Rickie Fowler.
The WM Phoenix Open crowd quickly became a sideshow here on Saturday as it began to swell, and both the police and tournament officials became concerned with challenges related to crowd control. This prompted the organizers to close the gates in the afternoon and limit alcohol sales because the course was just too crowded.
“It’s insane,” said a golf fan in town for a bachelor party. “It’s the Waste Management Open. It’s known for being a party.”
They also put this statement out on social media: “Due to larger than usual crowds, the WM Phoenix Open entrance gates are temporarily closed and shuttle service to the event is on hold.
“Shuttle service back to parking lots will remain running. Regularly check our channels for updates.”
Saturday play saw the completion of Round 2 by mid-afternoon and the beginning of Round 3 at 4:10pm MT. This gave the players about two hours on the course before play was suspended.
The third round of the WM Phoenix Open had resumed after a frost delay pushed the start time back over an hour. The entire field had yet to finish the third round due to multiple weather delays.
The leaderboard at the completion of Round 3 had Nick Taylor and Sahith Theegala tied for the lead at -15. Charley Hoffman and Andrew Novak were one off the pace at -14. Scottie Scheffler and Cameron Young were tied at -13
A cold desert morning greeted players and fans as play continued to complete the unfinished third round from yesterday afternoon. The ground crew did a masterful job getting the course ready for an early start after an overnight frost.
The final round had threesomes going off on split tees and players were not regrouped between rounds. Preferred lies were again used during the final round. A warming sun and a gentle desert breeze made Sunday’s finale a pleasant afternoon for both players and spectators, alike, at TPC Scottsdale.
With everyone on the course finished with their first nine holes, the leaderboard looked like this heading into the homeward nine: 1. Charley Hoffman and Nick Taylor (-18); 3. Scottie Scheffler (-17); 4. Sahith Theegala (-16); 5. Sam Burns (-15); 6. Kurt Kitayama (-14).
After dealing with a wayward tee shot on the 17th hole and finding the bunker on the right guarding the green, Hoffman (-21) hit his approach shot well short of the pin and then calmly hit his putt to 2 feet from the cup to keep his 3-shot lead intact heading to the 18th. Meanwhile, Taylor birdied the par-5 15th hole to reach -19 and close Hoffman’s lead to just two strokes.
Taylor went “pin hunting” on the par-3 16th Coliseum hole to grab another birdie and reach -20 and close within a shot of Hoffman, who missed his birdie putt on the 18th. Taylor (-20) then missed his birdie putt on the 17th hole.
Taylor, though, found some magic with his pitching wedge and dropped his second shot on the 18th green leaving a 9-footer for a birdie putt which he made for the tie.
We’re heading to extra holes!
Immediately following the conclusion of the final round, both Taylor and Hoffman headed out to the 18th tee for their first of two extra holes. On the second extra hole Hoffman missed his birdie putt while Taylor sank his, giving him the victory.
Nick Taylor finished -21 (60 70 68 65) to claim victory at the 2024 WM Phoenix Open Champion.
Along with the beautiful winner’s trophy, he picked up a check for $1,584,000 and 500 FedEx Cup points. This was his fourth PGA Tour win with the last one coming in 2023 at the RBC Canadian Open. His career earnings with today’s winnings included reached $16,516,342.
NBC Reporter Cara Banks caught up with Taylor as he left the green after sinking the winning putt.
Banks asked him, “You mentioned last year that you felt like the underdog coming down the stretch against Scottie Scheffler. Then last year, you went and won your National RBC Canadian Open, how much more comfortable did you feel this time around?”
Taylor responded “Yeah, more comfortable. It was a marathon day you know. You know, we signed our scorecards after the third round and had 8 minutes to go to tea. I don’t know if that rattled me a little bit, but it was just a long day. I found my swing a bit the last nine or ten holes and made some birdies. It was incredible.”
The runner-up was Hoffman (67 68 64 64) who picked up a check for $959,200 and 300 FedEx Cup points.
Scottie Scheffler (68 66 66 66) and Sam Burns (68 67 67 64) tied for third at -18. Each picked up a check for $519,200 and 145 FedEx Cup points.