GOLF

Elevated WM Phoenix Open not lost on Pro-Am field of celebrities

Feb 8, 2023, 6:45 PM | Updated: 7:10 pm

Former Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps of the United States plays a shot off of the fifth tee during...

Former Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps of the United States plays a shot off of the fifth tee during the 2023 Annexus Pro-Am prior to the WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on February 08, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Scottsdale — The WM Phoenix Open is a common occurrence in the Valley.

And with it comes the Annexus Pro-Am, where athletes and other celebrities rub elbows with PGA pros for 18 holes.

This year, however, brought some added buzz for more reasons than one.

Not only did the actual tournament see its prize purse and field of players improve greatly, it falls right in line with Super Bowl LVII festivities throughout the area.

The added gusto of the week was not lost on many of the returning celebrities and athletes taking in TPC Scottsdale on Wednesday.

“This year is going to be crazier than ever with the Super Bowl backing up to it and the pro-am is filled with a ton of amazing athletes, ex-athletes, celebs,” Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps said ahead of the tournament. “It’s going to be fun, it always is, always an incredible event and what the Thunderbirds do for the community is incredible.”

For those who are just getting their feet wet or making a return for the first time in a long time, it’s definitely an eye-opening experience.

“The last time I saw so many people was Yankee Stadium in the World Series in 2009,” former MLB player and part owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves Alex Rodriguez said Wednesday. “I’m very excited to be here. … I see some pinstripes and some Timberwolves gear here so maybe that will make me comfortable. This is probably one of the best events definitely domestically if not globally.”

When Highland High School product Ryan Fitzpatrick looks back at his time attending the event as a spectator, it’s wild to see just how far the tournament as a whole has come.

It’s been a tournament filled with memories for the NFLer-turned-broadcaster over the years. This one, however, was extra special for Fitzpatrick as his son caddied for him.

“I still remember we would walk around and there was no stadium seating like this. … I still have a ball signed by Tom Lehman, he hit us in the crowd. A lot of good memories from here, but it is definitely not the same. It’s changed a bunch.”

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