Get in the hole! A look at the 2020 Waste Management Phoenix Open
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The People’s Open is upon us.
The latest edition of the Waste Management Phoenix Open is back at TPC Scottsdale from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2, where a field of 132 players will compete for a $7.3 million purse, a $1.314 million check for first place and 500 FedExCup points.
This year, however, there are a few changes to the tournament, with some new additions, and a notable subtraction, to the annual party on the golf course.
Here’s a look at what to expect at the Greatest Show on Grass in 2020:
The Grand Entrance
Usually, spectators are greeted by a giant white tent as they walk from the street into the golf course.
That all changes in 2020.
Looking to switch things up this year, the folks at WMPO decided to do away with the tent entirely. Instead, the tournament sought out a more open-air environment, per tournament chairman Tim Woods, adding in an arch at the entrance with a marketplace filled with concessions stands, bar areas and activation centers leading into the tournament.
Not many have seen the overall design yet, but it’ll certainly be a step up from 1992.
#thepeoplesopen entryway has taken many shapes over the years but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
“We do some amazing things on the course and we wanted our main entrance to reflect that for 2020.” – Tim Woods, Tournament Chairman.
…and don’t forget to silence your beepers. pic.twitter.com/S6Tm7eB8RS
— WM Phoenix Open (@WMPhoenixOpen) January 10, 2020
PGA pro and Arizona State alum Phil Mickelson has been a mainstay at the WMPO.
Last year marked his 30th time playing in the Phoenix Open, breaking a tie with Jim Ferrier, Jerry Barber and Gene Littler for the most times playing in the event.
But 2020 brings with it yet another change to the WMPO script as the former Sun Devil has decided not to play in the tournament. Instead of hanging in the Valley, Mickelson opted to play in the Saudi International tournament in Saudi Arabia. The tourney is part of the European Tour and will mark the first time Lefty’s golfed the event.
Mickelson first began playing in the Phoenix Open back in 1989, only sitting out the event once in 1990. He’s won the tournament three times, initially taking home the hardware in 1996 and 2005 before his last win in 2013.
Last year, Lefty finished 83rd at 1-over par.
Phil might not be on the pairing sheet, but there are some new faces to the tournament in 2020.
Most notably in the Annexus Celebrity Pro-Am.
Joining the likes of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Arizona Diamondbacks closer Archie Bradley are Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino, former LPGA star Lorena Ochoa, Tyler Toney of Dude Perfect and NBA guard J.R. Smith, among others.
Bradley won’t be the lone D-back on the course, either. Joining the closer is Arizona manager Torey Lovullo, catcher Carson Kelly and broadcaster Tom Candiotti.
The full list of the Annexus Celebrity Pro-Am pairings was announced on Tuesday.
Get to the Chopper!
Added to the Patriots Outpost located near the 18th tee box is something not many would expect to see on a golf course.
#thepeoplesopen hosts 3,500 Veterans, Active, Reserve & U.S. Retired Military throughout tournament week at @BirdiesForBrave Patriots Outpost! The Thunderbirds invite them all plus emergency services personnel to join us free of charge, Wednesday through Sunday! #RESPECT pic.twitter.com/nE8PEKQz5m
— WM Phoenix Open (@WMPhoenixOpen) January 22, 2020
At the entrance of the outpost will sit a Huey helicopter. The helicopter is a new addition to the Patriots Outpost, which is expected to host 3,500 veterans and their guests throughout the tournament.
Ever heard of the Breakfast Club? The group that sits out in the early hours of the morning, waiting for the race to No. 16?
If not here’s a look at the madness:
While fans wait ever year to get to No. 16, the Breakfast Club first appeared in 2018, giving those who braved the elements at the crack of dawn some extra incentives.
Last year, however, things got hectic as droves of spectators showed up in anticipation of grabbing a spot on the famous par-3.
Gates are open @WMPhoenixOpen #WMPO let the race to hole 16 begin. Respect the fan. #GreenestShowOnGrass @PGATOUR @AFThunderbirds @sesamestreet #bigbird #wecareforyou Be safe today. Scottsdale Fire Department is a all hazards fire department ready to take care of you. pic.twitter.com/kbAIwLAiWA
— ScottsdaleFD (@ScottsdaleFire) February 2, 2019
To help reduce the risk of an all-out stampede and potential injuries, tournament officials have decided to start the group at the Hayden Road bridge instead of the main entrance, sending out spectators in intervals rather than a shotgun start.
If waking up early isn’t your thing, that’s totally fine.
Just be prepared to stand in line.
People near the back of the line at No. 16 have been there for over an hour. “It hasn’t moved at all,” one spectator said. Get ready to wait if you are trying to get into the 16th. #WasteManagementPhoenixOpen pic.twitter.com/eAYp6UlV5I
— Tyler Drake (@Tdrake4sports) February 1, 2019
Building it Bigger
The WMPO adds more and more with each tournament. That’s no different this year, as the tournament has added more structures and new areas for spectators to enjoy.
With new venues and add-ons to existing areas, construction around the course started back in September, a month earlier than usual.
A big emphasis this year has been focused on the general admission areas. That includes the new multi-level venue, the Kiva Club, which will give spectators views of holes 10 and 17. Joining the Kiva Club are the Scorekeeper suites that sit directly across from E18hteen, another venue positioned along the 18th hole.
The Ridge, which overlooks No. 12, No. 6 green and No. 13 tee and sits at the highest elevation on the golf course will also get an updated look, expanding from 18,000-square feet to 36,000-square feet.
What’s new at #thepeoplesopen? We’re glad you asked! Here’s Tournament Chairman Tim Woods to fill you in on the best general admission venues to check out! #WMPO #GreenestShow pic.twitter.com/9IwQb4aZQe
— WM Phoenix Open (@WMPhoenixOpen) January 27, 2020
And you can’t forget the stadium surrounding No. 16, which has been widened throughout and has added suites near the tee box.
Looking for Inspiration
With its eyes set on bringing an ever evolving product to TPC Scottsdale, the Phoenix Open took a road trip to other tournaments across the country. That included the 2019 BMW Championship in Illinois and the AT&T Byron Nelson in Texas.
There, officials of the Open looked at things such as course/structure layouts and other ways to add more innovation into this year’s event.