Planet Golf — 29 January 2018 by Candace Oehler
The Greatest Show on Grass begins

#Respect the game. #Respect the players. #Respect the fans.

SCOTTSDALE – Excitement is building for the 2018 Waste Management Phoenix Open Presented by the Ak-Chin Indian Community. The 83rd edition of the uber-popular tournament, dubbed “The Greatest Show on Grass,” and “The People’s Open,” takes place at TPC Scottsdale January 29 – February 4, and again features a top notch field, star-studded entertainment, and arguably the best people-watching on Tour.

With plenty of sun and warmer-than-usual temps predicted, the tournament promises to eclipse the 2017 attendance record of 655,434. It is neither hyperbole nor fake news  that WMPO is the best-attended tournament in the world.  And currently, there are no plans in the works to cap attendance.  Instead, according to Tournament Chairman Carlos Sugich, new bleachers may ease some congestion and patrons will also be encouraged to explore beyond the most crowded areas (holes 16, 17, and 18), hopefully enticed by expansion of food, beverage and bleacher seating on the less visited holes.

“We want to enhance the experience across the board for all of our fans,” said Sugich, as he detailed what’s new for 2018

  • No new seating has been added at the iconic Par-3, 16th hole (The Coliseum), but aesthetic changes were made that make the enclosure look bigger – think white paint instead of green screens.  The 163-yard hole is the only fully enclosed hole on TOUR and seats 20,000+ loud, boisterous, and rowdy fans. The hole even has its own logo.
  • Sixty new corporate suites (The Cove) and general admission seating for 650 have been added at the drivable, Par-4 17th. 
  • 200 new bleacher seats have been added to the 18th tee box.
  • A Spanish-language version of the tournament website has launched (
  • Live virtual reality – Fans will be able to experience the excitement and drama of the 16th hole  through a live 360 and virtual reality (VR) experience during all four rounds of competition. For fans who don’t have a headset, the 360 video experience will be available on Twitter and Periscope during all four days of the event, and for the first time ever, via the PGA TOUR app on iOS. Using any smartphone, fans will be able to watch live, 360 video from the 16th hole
  • KP at 16 wins a car – The PGA TOUR professional with the combined closest-to-the-pin tee shots after the first two rounds will be declared winner of the “Drive for your Ridecontest and win a 2018 Ford Expedition. He will also win a vehicle for a local charity that they designate.

WMPO is also one of the most profitable events on the PGA TOUR.  According to an ASU WP Carey School of Business study, the 2017 event pumped nearly $400 million – yes, million – into the Arizona economy.  That’s in addition to the record $10,147,441 that the host Thunderbirds raised for local charities through proceeds of the 2017 tournament.


A field of 132 players will vie for the $6.9 million purse, a $1,242,000 first-place check and 500 FedExCup points.  The top-notch field includes local favorite and ASU alum Jon Rahm, who sits at #2 in FedExCup points after his win at the Career Builder Challenge and a second at the Sentry Tournament of Champions.  

Three-time Waste Management Phoenix Open champion Phil Mickelson returns for 29th start.  Other notables include Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Zach Johnson, and defending champion Hideki Matsuyama. Regrettably, it appears that last year’s break-out fan favorite, Andrew “Beef” Johnston will not be in the field. His Arby’s curly fries head covers will be missed.


Two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, NFL Hall-of-Fame quarterback John Elway and Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley are among the list of  celebrities from the sports and entertainment world who will be playing in the Annexus Pro-Am on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Other celebrities committed to play include Michael Phelps, Larry Fitzgerald, Bruce Arians, Patrick Peterson, Emmitt Smith, Greg Maddux, Bode Miller and Tim Brown. 


Concerts at the Coors Light Birds Nest are always a highlight of the WMPO. This year’s eclectic lineup features:

  • Flo Rida, Kelley James, Redfoo and The Party Rock Crew Wednesday, Jan. 31
  • Florida Georgia Line and Chris Lane Thursday, Feb. 1 (SOLD OUT)
  • One Republic, DJ group Cash Cash, and Natty Rico on Friday, Feb. 2
  • Zedd, Nellu and DJ Vice Saturday, Feb. 3

Tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster (800-745-3000, and at all Ticketmaster outlet locations. 

The venue, located across the street from the golf course, opens daily at 3:30 pm and closes at 10:30 pm. gh Saturday. Headline acts will take the main stage each evening at approximately 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. The Coors Light Birds Nest is a 21-and-over venue. For more information about the Coors Light Birds Nest visit  


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.

Of that commitment, Waste Management CEO and President Jim Fish said simply, “We give the environment a voice.”


The 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 17th 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 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

@WMPhoenixOpen (Instagram)
@WMPhoenixOpen (Twitter)

  The Cove at 17 – corporate chalet with general admission seating.


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.