The First Look: Waste Management Phoenix Open
Jordan Spieth returns to the site of last year’s runaway crown to defend against a strong lineup that includes the two men above him in the world rankings – two-time champ Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Rory McIlroy, making his first start at Pebble Beach, and new Farmers Insurance Open champ Jason Day also arrive in top form. The pro-am side has star power, too, heavy on such musicians as Toby Keith, Jake Owen, Darius Rucker and newcomer Pat Monahan (Train). And, in a different line, Bill Murray. FULL FIELD: Click here to see who's playing FIELD NOTES: Phil Mickelson returns for his 22nd start on the Monterey Peninsula, seeking a fifth victory that would match Mark O’Meara atop Pebble Beach’s all-time list. He was runner-up as recently as two years ago. … Pat Perez, normally a staple throughout the West Coast Swing, makes his first TOUR start since Hawaii. The CIMB Classic victor, coming off two Middle East starts, is one of seven entrants already with a win this season. … Adam Scott arrives for his first start of 2018, ending a seven-year break from Pebble Beach. … Peter Jacobsen, the 1995 champion, is set to tee it up at age 63. He hasn’t played the Pro-Am in a decade; his last start anywhere on TOUR was the 2014 CareerBuilder. … Jerry Kelly, Vijay Singh and Steve Stricker add three more from the 50-plus demographic. FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points. STORYLINES: Speith arrives after missing the cut in Phoenix, just the second time he's finished outside the top 10 since last year’s FedExCup playoffs started in August. … A successful defense would make Spieth the seventh man to go back-to-back at Pebble Beach, and first since Johnson in 2009-10. … Johnson makes his first TOUR start since dominating the Sentry Tournament of Champions a month ago. In between, he tied for ninth in Abu Dhabi. ... Mickelson tries again to end the longest winless drought of his career, stretching back to the 2013 Open Championship. He posted a pair of top-15s during the fall. … Tony Romo, now CBS’s lead NFL analyst, joins Aaron Rodgers and newly traded Alex Smith (Redskins) to give the celebrity field three quarterbacks. Larry Fitzgerald also is on hand to catch any spirals. COURSE: Pebble Beach Golf Links, 6,816 yards, par 72. A PGA TOUR staple since 1947, and with good reason – the picturesque challenge along Carmel Bay ranks at or near the top of every list of America’s top courses. Amateurs Jack Neville and Douglas Grant crafted a masterpiece in 1919, taking care to build as many holes as possible along the craggy Pacific coastline. Though Pebble Beach hosted the first of five U.S. Amateurs in 1929, it wasn’t until 1972 that the U.S. Open became its first professional major. Four more Opens have followed – with another set for 2019 – and the PGA Championship made a visit in 1977. Spyglass Hill GC (6,953/72) and Monterey Peninsula CC’s Shore course (6,958/71) also are used in the first three days of pro-am play. 72-HOLE RECORD: 265, Brandt Snedeker (2015). 18-HOLE RECORD: 60, Sung Kang at Monterey Peninsula (2nd round, 2016). Pebble Beach record: 62, Tom Kite (3rd round, 1983), David Duval (3rd round, 1997). Spyglass Hill record: 62, Phil Mickelson (1st round, 2005), Luke Donald (1st round, 2006). LAST YEAR: Spieth cruised to his ninth career victory, carding 65-70 over his final two days at Pebble Beach to finish four shots ahead of Kelly Kraft. Spieth nearly went wire-to-wire, sitting one shot off the lead after Round 1 though his 68 led everyone at storm-battered Monterey Peninsula. A 65 at Spyglass moved the Texan into a share of the lead, and Saturday’s 65 at Pebble Beach left him six shots clear of his nearest pursuer. No one got closer than three on the final day. Though Kraft’s 67 matched the best Sunday round, it made up less than half his deficit to Spieth. The four-shot margin of victory was one off the tournament record, accomplished six times. HOW TO FOLLOW TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 2-3:30 p.m. (GC), 4-7 p.m. (CBS). Sunday, 1-2:45 p.m. (GC), 3-6:30 p.m. (CBS). PGA TOUR LIVE: Thursday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (featured groups), 3-6 p.m. (featured holes). Saturday, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (featured groups). Sunday, 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. (featured groups). RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 1-7 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).
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