Planet Golf — 25 January 2017 by Candace Oehler
Waste Management Preview

by GW Staff & PGA Media Services

 SCOTTSDALE – Excitement is building for the 2017 Waste Management Phoenix Open Presented by the Ak-Chin Indian Community (www.wmphoenixopen.com).  The Tournament, also known as “The Greatest Show on Grass,” and “The People’s Open”, takes place Jan. 30 – Feb 5, 2017, at TPC Scottsdale.  It is the best-attended golf tournament in the world and has gained legendary status for being the most unique stop on the PGA TOUR.

 Last year’s tournament broke three attendance records, including a PGA TOUR record 618,365 fans for the week.  The 2017 edition marks the 82nd playing of the event (one of the five oldest events on the PGA TOUR) and the eighth as the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  A field of 132 players will vie for the $6.7 million purse, the $1,206,000 first-place check and 500 FedExCup points. 

THE COURSETPC Stadium Course designed by Jay Morrish and Tom Weiskopf (1986), Redesigned by Tom Weiskopf in 2014. Par: 35-36–71, Yards:  7,261

Hole 16, “The Coliseum,” is famous as the loudest and rowdiest on TOUR.  The iconic 163-yard, Par 3 is the only fully enclosed hole on TOUR and seats 20,000+ boisterous patrons, many of whom wait for hours to get into the grandstands. 

THE FIELDJordan Spieth (5th) is the highest-ranked player currently in the field, which has a total of 22 players ranked in the Top-50 in the Official World Golf Rankings.  Other ranked players include Hideki Matsuyama (6), Justin Thomas (8), Patrick Reed (9), Bubba Watson (11), Rickie Fowler (14), Russell Knox (18), Brooks Koepka (19), Matt Kuchar (20), Phil Mickelson (21), Emiliano Grillo (25), Louis Oosthuizen (26), J.B. Holmes (30), Daniel Berger (32), Kevin Chappell (35), Scott Piercy (36), Zach Johnson (37), Gary Woodland (43), William McGirt (44), Kevin Na (47), Shane Lowry (48) and Byeong Hun An (50).

 Seven former champions currently are in the field including Holmes (2006, 2008), defending champ Matsuyama (2016), Koepka (2015), Phil Mickelson (1996, 2005 and 2013), Mark Wilson (2011), Hunter Mahan (2010) and Aaron Baddeley (2007).

 Fan favorite Andrew “Beef” Johnston (@BeefGolf) has been extended one of five sponsor exemptions and is sure to attract a raucous following.  The personable Brit currently sits 86th in the Official World Golf Ranking, and is looking to improve on an outstanding 2016 season that included an eighth place finish at The Open Championship at Royal Troon and his first European Tour victory at the Real Club Valderrama Open de España.

ANNEXUS PRO-AMActor and producer Mark Wahlberg, former NFL and MLB All-Star and Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson, and Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, are among the early list of celebrities from the sports and entertainment world who will be playing in the Annexus Pro-Am on Wednesday, Feb. 1, at TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course starting at 8:30 a.m. Tee times range from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at wmphoenixopen.com, along with a complete list of celebrities and PGA TOUR players in the field. 

 No word yet on whether former Mariners and fellow Hall of Famers Randy Johnson and/or Ken Griffey, Jr. will be in the field again,

ENTERTAINMENT – Musical entertainment at the Coors Light Birds Nest is always a highlight of the Tournament. This year’s lineup includes Jake Owen with Special Guest Chase Rice on Wednesday, Feb 1; Toby Keith with Special Guest The Band Perry on Thursday, Feb. 2 (SOLD OUT); OMNIA Nightclub resident Kaskade and Flo Rida on Friday, Feb. 3; and Blink-182 and Hakkasan Las Vegas Nightclub resident Steve Aoki on Saturday, Feb. 4.

 A new, interactive Coors Light Birds Nest app is now available for download at the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. The app was designed to create an enhanced fan experience and offers breaking news notifications, artist information, maps and directions, performance schedules, FAQ’s, contests and giveaways, and much more. Additionally, the app connects to all major social media channels for seamless sharing.

ENVIRONMENTLY-FRIENDLY – In 2012, title sponsor Waste Management launched the Zero Waste Challenge to control event materials and educate attendees so that zero waste is sent to the landfill.  There are no trash receptacles on the course, only recycling and compost bins.  Even the floating WM logo on the 18th hole is made up of 144,000 recycled golf balls. Saturday’s All Day Green Out encourages everyone to wear green to support the green/eco-sensitive efforts of the tournament.

 TICKETSThe Thunderbirds are once again inviting all First Responders as well as Active, Reserve and Retired Military personnel and one accompanying individual to be their guests (FREE OF CHARGE).  This is the 16th year that the tournament host Thunderbirds have extended this free invitation as a small gesture of thanks for all these heroes do for our country. To take advantage of the free ticket offer, First Responders and Active, Reserve and Retired Military must first go to https://birdiesforthebrave.sheerid.com/WMPhoenixOpen-2017/ to register through the Sheer ID verification program.

In addition, courtesy of Tournament official vehicle Ford, all fans will be admitted FREE OF CHARGE on Monday, Jan. 30 and Tuesday, Jan. 31.  Monday’s schedule includes practice rounds by PGA TOUR players and the Coors Light Pro-Am, while Tuesday will include practice rounds, the R.S. Hoyt Jr. Family Foundation Dream Day, the popular Special Olympics Open and the PGA TOUR Wives Golf Classic.

CHARITIESThe Waste Management Phoenix Open and the tournament host Thunderbirds raise money for numerous charities, most of which provide programs that benefit youth.  Recent beneficiaries include Phoenix Children’s Hospital, First Tee of Phoenix, Special Olympics Arizona, Homeward Bound, Boys & Girls Clubs, YMCA, Waste Not, Junior Golf Association of Arizona, Elevate Phoenix, A New Leaf and Tumbleweed.  The 2016 Waste Management Phoenix Open raised more than $9.3 million dollars for charity, setting a tournament record, and The Thunderbirds have raised more than $111 million in the tournament’s 81-year history.

 

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Candace Oehler’s deep dive into sports media began several decades ago when she won a trip from Seattle to Mariners spring training in Arizona. Noting that non-English-speaking Latino ball players received little, if any, media coverage, she fluently/en español became a pioneer in Spanish sports media, and eventually became known affectionately throughout the Latino MLB community as “La Veterana.” Candace has written for team publications and MLB.com; hosted her own radio show on several Spanish-language stations; served as producer/reporter/engineer for the Mariners’ inaugural season of Spanish radio broadcasts; and has been a reporter for MLB Network Radio the past 10 years. She was invited to Venezuela by future Hall-of-Fame shortstop Omar Vizquel to cover rebuilding efforts and accomplishments of his charitable foundation following the devastating 1999 mudslides; worked in Puerto Rico for former Major Leaguers Joey Cora and Carlos Baerga managing fundraising events; and was the only female in the raucous locker room when the hometown favorite Licey Tigers won the 2004 Caribbean World Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Candace was introduced to the game of golf in 1992 by members of Seattle’s historic Fir State Golf Club, who had approached her to manage their (then) little fundraising tournament hosted by a shy, gangly 15-year old Tiger Woods. Candace co-managed the annual event for nearly 20 years, working with hosts that included Ken Griffey, Sr., Birdie Griffey, Mike Cameron, Nate McMillan, Warren Moon, and Dale Ellis. She became secretary of the club and the Fir State Junior Golf Foundation, and got totally, completely hooked on golf, learning to play on a set of Redbirds given to her by the club (apparently they considered her mother’s Patty Bergs a bit antiquated). She has since traded up to another set of Redbirds and a much more user-friendly golf environment in Arizona. And, once a prolonged stint on the DL is over, she can’t wait to get back on the course and continue lowering her current 21-handicap to ….?

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