Planet Golf — 08 February 2024 by Candace Oehler
Rain and Wind Make for Wild Start to WM Phoenix Open

Scottsdale, AZ – The weather was frightful, but it didn’t stop thousands of fans from braving the surprising elements to see the best PGA players compete in the iconic WM Phoenix Open, taking place Feb. 8-12 at TPC Scottsdale. The 2024 edition marks the 89th playing of the event (one of the five oldest events on the PGA TOUR) and the 15th with WM as title sponsor.

Weather caused suspension and ultimate cancellation of Wednesday’s Pro-Am, the first time since 2011, while Thursday’s first round was also suspended for several hours as heavy rains pounded the course. The remainder of the week is “iffy,” with rain chances in double digits except for Sunday’s final round.

Although the tournament is not one of the “designated status” PGA events this year, the quality of the field remains stellar, with 34 of the top 50 from the 2022-23 FedExCup standings in the field. The winner will take home a hefty check for $1,584,000, out of the $8.8 million purse.

Back-to-back tournament champion and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler; World No. 6 and reigning U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark; and 15-time PGA TOUR winner Justin Thomas are in the tournament field, along with fan favorites Rickie Fowler, Max Homa, Jordan Spieth and ASU grads Chez Reavie and Kevin Yu. Washington is well-represented with former Huskies Joel Dahmen and Nick Taylor, plus Tacoma native Andrew Putnam.

Fortunately, the weather on Tuesday was perfect for the R.S. Hoyt Jr. Family Foundation Dream Day, attended by nearly 300 kids. They were treated to motivational talks and Q&A with football legend Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Diamondbacks pitchers Zac Gallen and Brandon Pfaadt, plus a surprise appearance by 2023 US Open champion Wyndham Clark, fresh off his victory at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am.  They also enjoyed a special trick-shot golf show sponsored by PING.

Zac Gallen and Brandon Pfaadt

Later that day, the popular San Tan Ford Special Olympics Open Putting Challenge featured a friendly competition between teams comprised of Special Olympics Arizona athletes, celebrities and sports stars, and business leaders from the community.


Taylor Montgomery on the 16th hole:

You still need your traditional silent tournaments like the Masters and others that have history, But for regular PGA events, you want the fans to be involved as much as possible. And fans don’t want to go to a golf course or a golf tournament where you have to be completely silent all the time. Could you imagine going to an NBA game and not being able to say a word when a guy’s at the free throw line? Like nobody would ever show up.

So I think golf in the in the future will definitely be going towards more of your party scene. I mean, it brings in more money, it brings in everything. And if you haven’t learned by now, pretty much every business and everything in life revolves around money.

And you don’t have to have every tournament like that, but dude, you have to have some that are like that. A lot of players don’t like it, but I think they’re going to have to get used to it in the future. I mean, I love that type of golf. That’s kind of how I grew up. Is everybody being rowdy and talking trash or whatever.

Justin Thomas, who has had 4 top 10 finishes in the last 5 years at WM:

I feel like I know how to get it around here pretty well. I feel like I’ve played patient every year, and I just kind of wait on my little run whenever it happens over the course of 72 holes and just try to minimize the mistakes.

Yeah, I feel like I’m playing well and things are continuing to trend in the right direction. I’m back at a place I really enjoy, and feel like I’ve had a couple chances to win in the past and haven’t been able to. It’s always enjoyable here, and I’m excited to get going.

Luke Donald

Yeah, I took a little time off after the Ryder Cup, enjoyed the victory. Played a couple events in Dubai, and the game was reasonably solid. I feel like the iron play has been good. The putting has been pretty good. Driving is improving. We’ll see.

On his second Ryder Cup captaincy: I would say I’ve changed my expectation a little bit because I have this role that takes up a lot of time in the captaincy. I think as a competitor for so long, you still keep those expectations really high. I’ve had to sort of rein those back a little bit, but in a way, sometimes lowering those helps you just kind of go and play and not have too much expectation and do fine. I certainly have enough time to do both.

Scottie Scheffler, looking for a three-peat at WM:

I think sometimes we can get a little bit too serious with ourselves, and so it’s fun coming out here — this morning you come to warm up on the driving range and the music is so loud I can barely even hear myself think out on the driving range. I’m like, what is this place. It’s crazy. It’s a lot different than the stuff we play throughout the year, but it’s a lot of fun.

 The last two years here have been really special. The first year being able to win in a playoff and then last year being able to kind of just have a great final round and separate myself from everybody else and being able to walk up 18 kind of knowing I had it in hand was a lot of fun, too.

Related Articles


About Author

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; 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 ….?

(0) Readers Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.