The Starter - WM Phoenix Open

Feb 7th 2023

Nick DeMott

Updated throughout each tournament week, 'The Starter' will provide key news, notes, and other nuggets prior to the first tee time on Thursday morning. Think of it as an all-in-one resource to help guide you in the days leading up to the start of the tournament, as you prepare your fantasy golf lineups and entries. As soon as we receive valuable news updates on things such as tee times, featured groups, withdrawals and other course reports we’ll be sure to post them all here.

Brief Recap of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am

  • Justin Rose won the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am for his first PGA Tour victory since 2019. He now has 11 career PGAT wins.

    • Rose is the first player to make a hole-in-one and go on to win the event since Webb Simpson did it at the 2020 WM Phoenix Open.

    • Rose moves to 35th in the Official World Golf Rankings

    • Rose moves to 10th in the FedExCup Standings.

  • Brendon Todd (T2) gained 6.69 strokes putting (two measured rounds) to lead the field at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in that stat category.

    • Todd now has three top-10 finishes this season.

  • Brandon Wu matched his career-best placement on the PGA Tour with a T2 at Pebble Beach.

    • Wu tied for the highest greens-in-regulation percentage (80.56% of greens hit for the entire week).

  • Keith Mitchell (T4) gained 4.78 strokes ball-striking in the final round and shot 68 (-4).

  • Peter Malnati's T4 at Pebble Beach was his best finish on the PGA Tour since the 2020 Sanderson Farms Championship.

    • Malnati led the field in SG: Approach (+5.24 across two measured rounds).

  • Denny McCarthy (T4) and Taylor Pendrith (T7) both shot 64 (-8) to tie for the lowest final-round score.

    • McCarthy gained 4.61 strokes putting in the final round (1st in field for R4).

    • Pendrith gained 4.48 strokes putting in the final round (2nd in field for R4).

  • 10 golfers withdrew from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am due to inclement weather causing the tournament to finish on Monday: Jason Dufner, Nate Lashley, Doug Ghim, Bill Haas, Trey Mullinax, Will Gordon, Carson Young, Brian Gay, Kyle Stanley, Dylan Frittelli.

In Case You Missed It

  • LIV Golf's Abraham Ancer won the PIF Saudi International event and moved up to 26th in the OWGR.

    • Cameron Young finished runner-up in the same event; Lucas Herbert finished 3rd.

  • Max Homa and Billy Horschel were announced as the newest additions to TGL, the high-tech Monday night golf league started by Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy (expected to start January 2024).

WM Phoenix Open (February 9th-12th, 2023)

  • TPC Scottsdale - Scottsdale, Arizona

  • Event #15 of the 2022-23 FedExCup Regular Season

  • Designated (Elevated) Event #2

  • Full-Field Cut Event


From the windy coast of northern California to the desert of Arizona, the PGA Tour heads to TPC Scottsdale for the second designated event of the year. Folks often liken the PGA Tour to a traveling circus, and that feels no more true than this week at the WM Phoenix Open.

A party-type atmosphere is encouraged and embraced throughout the week in Scottsdale, which has helped the tournament evolve into one of the most anticipated events on the schedule. The event has certainly earned its nickname as "The Greatest Show on Grass."

In 2020, over 700,000 people attended the WM Phoenix Open across its five days (including the Wednesday pro-am). According to the tournament fact sheet, the WM is "generally considered to be the largest attended sporting event in the world outside of the Olympic Games."

The par-3 16th hole–aka "The Stadium Hole"–gets most of the attention at TPC Scottsdale. For the good reason. The 16th is one of the most famous, recognizable golf holes out there.

While the WM Phoenix Open would draw raucous crowds regardless of who's playing, it becomes even easier when the event gets elevated status and a prize purse of $20,000,000 (larger than all four majors). Thus we get the world's best golfers excited to show up and compete.

Adding to the excitement is the fact that the Super Bowl kickoffs in the same city just hours after the final putt drops on Sunday. Scottsdale will be buzzing all week long.

The earliest days of the Phoenix Open date back to 1932, and the event has taken place at the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale since 1987 (as designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf).

The Course

TPC Scottsdale is characterized by its location in the dry and elevated Arizona desert–wayward shots can legitimately end up among cactuses or in other penal areas.

In fact, TPC Scottsdale routinely ranks in the top 5 of PGA Tour courses in what DataGolf calls 'Missed Fairway Penal Fraction,' which measures the "fraction of missed fairways that result in penalty strokes."

That said, accurate drives off-the-tee get rewarded as TPC Scottsdale ranks highly in longest average drives. The average driving distance at the 2022 WM Phoenix Open was 311.3 yards (21.3% higher than the TOUR average).

Ball-strikers in general have had success in the past at TPC Scottsdale. According to Justin Ray (@JustinRayGolf on Twitter), "since 2010, players who win at WM Phoenix Open have gained 65% of their strokes vs the field via ball striking [SG: OTT + SG: APP] - the highest rate of any regularly-played course in that span."

Five of the last seven winners of the WM Phoenix Open ranked top-5 for the week in SG: Approach.

All that said, TPC Scottsdale will test all facets of a golfer's game. Short game still very much matters given the bunkers and run-off areas around greens. Additionally, it's worth pointing out that six of the top seven players on last year's WM leaderboard ranked inside the top-8 in Strokes Gained: Putting.

Course Snapshot

  • Yards: 7,216 (Par 71)

  • Greens: Poa trivialis/perennial rye overseed

  • Avg. green size: 7,069 sq. ft.

  • Sand bunkers: 67

  • Water hazards: 3 (in play on 6 holes)

As a Par 71, TPC Scottsdale trades a par-5 in for an additional par-4. Most talk about the 16th, but the driveable par-4 17th is another fascinating golf hole that we get at the WM. In my opinion, 15-18 sets up one of the more interesting closing stretches of holes on the PGA Tour given the risk-reward nature of each one.

Holes 11 and 12 played as the most difficult in terms of scoring in 2022. The 13th hole was the easiest, playing to a field scoring average of nearly half a stroke under par.

Course Scoring Stats

In 2022, TPC Scottsdale played as the 20th most difficult course on the PGA Tour (out of 38) in terms of scoring average. The scoring average and winning score tend to remain pretty consistent year-to-year.

Winning Scores last eight years:

  • 2022: Scottie Scheffler -16

  • 2021: Brooks Koepka -19

  • 2020: Webb Simpson -17

  • 2019: Rickie Fowler -17

  • 2018: Gary Woodland -18

  • 2017: Hideki Matsuyama -17

  • 2016: Hideki Matsuyama -14

  • 2015: Brooks Koepka -15

Additional scoring stats last three years:

  • 2022 Scoring Average: 70.29 (-0.71)

    • Birdie-or-Better: 20.44%

    • Bogey-or-Worse: 13.57%

  • 2021 Scoring Average: 69.46 (-1.54)

    • Birdie-or-Better: 22.71%

    • Bogey-or-Worse: 13.57%

  • 2020 Scoring Average: 70.32 (-0.68)

    • Birdie-or-Better: 21.27%

    • Bogey-or-Worse: 16.60%

Winner's Profile - How Scottie Scheffler gained strokes on the field in 2022:

  • SG Total: +12.92

  • SG T2G: +6.40 (13th)

  • SG OTT: +5.24 (4th)

  • SG APP: -1.60 (55th)

  • SG ARG: +2.76 (8th)

  • SG PUTT: +6.48 (2nd)

The Field

  • Field Changes (-): John Huh and Lanto Griffin both pulled out of the original field list.

  • Field Changes (+): None.

  • Monday Qualifiers: Andre Metzger, Dalton Ward, and Brett White.

  • Sponsor Exemptions: Taylor Montgomery, Davis Thompson, Ricky Barnes, Charley Hoffman, and J.B. Holmes.

  • Section Champion: Michael Hopper.

  • Field Alternates: Nick Hardy, Kyle Stanley, Zac Blair, Justin Suh, Kevin Yu, Joseph Bramlett, Thomas Detry, Tyson Alexander, Ben Taylor, Ben Griffin.

    • 3 players in the field would have to WD before one of them gets into the tournament.

  • 8 of the OWGR Top-10

    • Will Zalatoris is the notable omission from this week's field. Reports suggest that he just decided to use his one skip of an elevated event on WM.

  • 22 of the OWGR Top-25

  • 37 of the OWGR Top-50

INJURY REPORT (as of 10AM ET, 2/7)


Matt Fitzpatrick (neck) - OWGR 10th

Before the start of the AT&T Pebble Beach, Fitzpatrick said that he had hurt his neck a few days prior and didn’t feel 100 percent heading into the tournament. Fitzpatrick noted that he was fine to play at Pebble but wasn’t expecting to have his full swing speed. Additionally, Fitzpatrick said that he's dealt with this issue on and off throughout the years, adding that it causes some stiffness when trying to get through the ball on his swing.

Although Fitzpatrick made the injury sound minor, he ended up missing the cut at Pebble Beach after shooting rounds of 70-71-76.

Maverick McNealy (shoulder) - OWGR 62nd

McNealy withdrew during the third round of last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am due to a left shoulder injury. According to an Instagram post he made on Sunday, McNealy jammed his first rib/clavicle but noted that it's not expected to be a serious or long-term problem. McNealy added in the Instagram post, "I am really disappointed my body didn’t give me a chance to compete this week but am so grateful for my team for their care and expertise to get me back to full power soon!!” 

He's currently in the field for the WM Phoenix Open, but this injury news puts his status for the event in question. It'll be important to monitor McNealy's health status throughout the week leading up to the start of the WM Phoenix Open to get some clarity on whether he will tee it up or not.

Justin Suh (shoulder) - OWGR 116th

Suh withdrew during the first round of last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, citing a shoulder injury. He’s currently an alternate to get into the event.

Andrew Landry (shoulder) - OWGR 573rd

Landry withdrew during the second round of last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, citing a right shoulder injury.


John Huh (elbow) - OWGR 180th

Huh withdrew from the WM Phoenix Open on Monday. Having yet to make a start in 2023, Huh's WD is most likely the result of an elbow tendonitis injury he's been dealing with over the past month. Huh withdrew prior to the start of multiple events in January and will now continue to be sidelined at the start of February.

Lanto Griffin (back) - OWGR 181st

Griffin withdrew from the WM Phoenix Open on Monday. The 34-year-old returned to the PGA Tour recently after being out for over six months following back surgery. Griffin showed positive results in his first two starts back, finishing T37 at the Farmers Insurance Open and T58 this past week at Pebble Beach. At this moment, an exact reason has not been provided for Griffin's decision to WD from Phoenix, but it's possible that wants to give his back a rest after playing multiple weeks in a row. It'll be important to monitor Griffin's status for the next time he tees it up which is expected to come at The Genesis Invitational.

Philip Knowles - OWGR 357th

Knowles withdrew from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Thursday before the start of round one. No reason has been provided for Knowles' WD from the event but it will be important to monitor his status moving forward.

Cameron Percy - OWGR 366th

Percy withdrew prior to round two of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am on Friday. At this moment, no reason has been provided for Percy's decision to WD from the event. The 48-year-old shot a three-over 74 at Monterey Peninsula in the opening round and was tied for 130th. Percy was not slated to be in the field for next week's WM Phoenix Open.

Vaughn Taylor - OWGR 562nd

Taylor withdrew from the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. The 46-year-old has played in just three events on the PGA Tour this season, most recently at The RSM Classic last November. At this moment, no reason has been provided for Taylor's WD. 

Tee Times & Groupings for Rounds 1-2

Horses for Courses

WM Phoenix golfers with the highest “True Strokes Gained” (avg. adjusted strokes gained) at TPC Scottsdale (min. two starts):

  • Hideki Matsuyama +2.58 (33 rounds)

  • Xander Schauffele +2.55 (20)

  • Scottie Scheffler +2.36 (10)

  • Jon Rahm +2.25 (28)

  • Justin Thomas +2.01 (28)

  • Alex Noren +1.93 (12)

  • Sungjae Im +1.81 (12)

  • Max Homa +1.76 (16)

Matsuyama is a 2x winner at TPC Scottsdale and finished T8 last year.

Schauffele has finished in the top 3 each of the past two seasons at TPC Scottsdale. He led the field in SG: Tee-to-Green at last year's WM Phoenix Open.

Scheffler has gained a combined 11.60 strokes putting over the last two seasons at TPC Scottsdale (Won in 2022, T7 in 2021).

Rahm has never finished worse than T16 over seven career starts at TPC Scottsdale.

Justin Thomas has finished top-10 at TPC Scottsdale in three of the last four seasons.

Notable finishes by WM Phoenix Open golfers with just ONE career start at TPC Scottsdale:

  • Patrick Cantlay - Runner-up in 2022

  • Sahith Theegala - T3 in 2022

  • Matt Fitzpatrick - T10 in 2022

  • Tyrrell Hatton - T15 in 2019

  • Rory McIlroy - T13 in 2021

Notables playing TPC Scottsdale for the first time this week:

  • Tom Kim

  • Tommy Fleetwood

  • Kurt Kitayama

  • Taylor Pendrith

  • Davis Thompson

  • Taylor Montgomery

  • Adam Svensson

  • Chad Ramey

  • Greyson Sigg

Anti-Course Horses

WM Phoenix golfers with the LOWEST “True Strokes Gained” (avg. adjusted strokes gained) at TPC Scottsdale (min. two starts):

  • Michael Hopper -6.29 (4 rounds)

  • Jim Herman -2.43 (6)

  • Tyler Duncan -1.90 (10)

  • Kelly Kraft -1.88 (8)

  • Adam Schenk -1.83 (10)

  • Mackenzie Hughes -1.72 (8)

  • Aaron Wise -1.69 (8)

Hopper is a local PGA Head Golf Professional who got into this week's field via a sectional qualifier.

Duncan has missed the cut in each of his five starts at TPC Scottsdale. Kraft and Hughes have done the same across four starts.

Schenk has missed the cut at TPC Scottsdale each of the last four years.

Wise finished 66th in 2021 but missed the cut here in 2022 and 2020.

Weather Report (as of 10AM ET, 2/7)