In his mission to get in as many reps ahead of a bumper calendar for golf, Rory McIlroy will make his debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open next week, February 4-7.
Prior to his third place finish in Abu Dhabi last week, McIlroy confirmed that he would play seven of the next eight weeks after enjoying the guts of a two month winter break. That has opened the door to a new venue in Phoenix for the four-time Major winner to cut his teeth, though it won’t be the raucous atmosphere we’ve come to expect from the tournament in recent years.
“We are excited to welcome Rory to the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the first time ever and glad to welcome back Jason to TPC Scottsdale,” said Tournament Chairman Scott Jenkins. “They are some of the most accomplished players in recent PGA Tour history and continue to add to the already impressive list of world-class golfers in the field. We are ready to get things going and looking forward to watching these great players tee it up at ‘The People’s Open’ next week.”
Sadly, given Covid-19’s continued presence around the world, crowds will be vastly depleted for this year’s renewal, meaning the fanfare normally associated with the famous stadium hole par-3 16th will be somewhat subdued. Normally an event that attracts more than half a million people through the gate on tournament week, it’s expected that 5,000 fans will be permitted each day this time around in what will be a unique experience for those competing at this year’s ‘People’s Open’.
McIlroy will hope to arrive in Phoenix with a win already under his belt after coming unstuck against a relentless Tyrrell Hatton at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Sunday. It was another case of close but no cigar for McIlroy who returns to action at this week’s Farmers Insurance Open with plenty of positives in the bank after his first appearance of the season.
“I felt for the most part of the week my short-game and my putting was pretty good. I scrambled well and had some pretty good approach shots, especially last night coming down the last few holes,” McIlroy said.
“There were parts of rounds where I got the driver going a little bit but there is sometimes where I will have a few holes like that and others when it gets away from me, so just a little more consistency and being able to replicate the good shots hole-after-hole and day-after-day, so that I can put four rounds together.”
Among those joining McIlroy in Phoenix is Australia’s world number 43 Jason Day who’ll look to put back injuries behind him this year and return to the form that saw him reach number one in the world all the way back in September 2015.