Last week I wrote about how the 17th at TPC Scottsdale plays differently based on pin position. Now that the tournament is over, here is a quick recap of how the hole played this year. I had the opportunity to attend the tournament on Friday and included a few other notes on the tournament as a whole. Spoiler alert: I spent some time on 16.
Thursday - Sunday Pin on a Thursday!
The 17th hasn’t seen a back left pin during the first round in over a decade, so I doubt the players were expecting it. Per usual, it played as the most difficult pin for the week. It is the only pin position where players think about the water on their approach. More than a dozen players hit their 2nd shot into the water on Thursday, something that only happened twice the rest of the week. Poor Ollie.
Friday - One and a half
After the brutal Thursday pin, tournament organizers set up Friday with an extremely easy front right pin. Five eagles were made on Friday after 0 the last three years combined. None of those were more impressive than Robert Garrigus’s. Had it dropped, it would have been the second hole-in-one on a par 4 in PGA Tour history, the only other coming on TPC Scottsdale’s 17th.
Saturday - Day of Days
I don’t know if you have heard, but a lot of people go to the Phoenix Open on Saturday. Playing 17 after the chaotic 16th is always difficult, but Saturday is the worst of the bunch. Players played this hole much better than normal with about 46% making birdie. All of those birdies were putts of 15 feet or less. Jon Rahm made his third consecutive birdie here to get into contention on Saturday. That video also depicts how difficult the pin is due to the small shelf it sits on.
Sunday - Do or Die
The easiest pin of the week came on Sunday. Nearly 60% of players made birdie or eagle here, including Chez Reavie. After bogeying 16, he needed to birdie the last two to get into a playoff. In fact, 7 of the top 10 made birdie here on their way in. While it is an easy pin, there is still the pressure of knowing you need to make birdie to stay relevant.
-The broadcasts don’t do a great job of explaining just how loud 16 is when you’re playing the rest of the course. I could hear the stadium from every other hole I watched. Ignoring it all day must be incredibly difficult.
-I don’t know how long Fluff has been on KJ Choi’s bag, but I love it. Listening to their banter up close was so much fun.
-TPC Scottsdale is outrageously green. I’m sure they do it to make it pop on TV, but that seems like an oversight for a tournament that prides itself on zero waste.
-I ran into an old friend who has a yearly pass for TPC Scottsdale. There is no other charge if he walks, but a cart fee for the Stadium course is $37. Thirty. Seven. Dollars.
-Smylie Kaufman is driving a one-man struggle bus. You can see the strain on his face while he is out there. He doesn’t look like he is enjoying golf at the moment.
-16 is worth it. I don’t care if you’re a 22-year-old senior at ASU or a retired golf lover, make the trip. We went on Friday and got in line around 10:30 am. Our wait was less than 30 minutes, and it was worth every second.
-If you do go to 16, sit in the general admission section. I’m sure the corporate boxes are nice, and all but the real scene is with the riff-raff. It is not the easiest to watch and appreciate the golf but it is damn fun.
-Don’t forget to drink water.
-With all the attention on 16, I never realized that 17 and 18 feel just as enclosed. They may not be surrounded by grandstands, but it seems like you are playing in a stadium. I would say about half of the attendees are on one of those three holes for most of the day. You can watch some golf on 17 and 18 as well.
-Scottsdale and the surrounding area truly love this event. Every restaurant, bar, uber driver, and the barista will ask if you’re going to the tournament. They welcome tourists instead of seeing them as a burden. You don’t have to love golf to enjoy this tournament, and the city is fully behind that motto.