By: Calvin Ralph
The Waste Management Phoenix Open makes the snow-covered Northeast look forward to golf season again. The Arizona Desert, the rowdiness of the fans at the TPC Scottsdale, and the constant flowing of beverages always make this tournament a fan and player favorite.
There was a man who showed up at the course, who hadn’t been there in 15 years. Former world #1 Tiger Woods played this week, which he dubbed was “all about getting reps.” Woods’s last appearance was at his own Hero World Challenge, after not qualifying for the FedEx Cup Playoffs and skipping out on the Ryder Cup in Florida, where he placed last in the 18-man field, because of a bad back.
Woods had changed swing coaches before Hero, turning to Chris Como after being with Sean Foley for the last 4 years. At Hero, Woods’s chipping was pathetic at best. Tiger fans, like myself, were hoping for a Tiger that got more reps and worked on his game so he could contend this past week.
We got the exact opposite. In fact, we saw a Tiger that was absolutely awful. His chipping was horrendous. This man used to be the best chipper and putter of the golf ball ever, but his first round on Thursday was better than his second round on Friday. Overall, my grandfather chips better than Tiger did last week, on a bad day.
“I was caught right in-between patterns,” Woods said after Friday’s performance. But, here’s something me and many golf minds are going to say: “Tiger, you have the full on yips, it’s time to get mentally tough and play like the Tiger we all know and love.”
“I still have a lot of work to do,” Tiger also said. Yes, Tiger, you do, but you better fix it quickly because The Masters are right around the corner.
As many golf fans know, The Phoenix Open is often one of the best tournaments in golf, especially for its fanfare. The tournament, with a self-imposed motto of, “The Greatest Show on Grass,” is known for the par-3 16th hole. Bleachers seating 30,000 fans, which give the hole a real “stadium” feel, surround the 163-yard hole.
And when the players make their stop on 16, the fun begins. Players hit shots in their favorite football team’s jerseys, get the crowd hyped before hitting, and give stuff to fans. In years past, players threw gifts into the stands, but the PGA Tour instituted a rule that players cannot throw anything into the stand.
But, the PHun was not lost in PHoenix. In fact, some fans got lucky enough to get a free beer, thanks to Ryan Palmer. Palmer signed some golf balls, wrapped them in $10 bills, and added nice notes like, “this one is on me.” So, we salute you Ryan Palmer, for not taking the PHun out of PHoenix.
When it was all said it done, there was a tournament played, and there was a winner. Brooks Koepka won the tournament and the real question is: who is Brooks Koepka? Koepka is a 24-year old rookie on the tour. He was a three-time All-American at Florida State. He started his career in Europe, playing on the European Tour, where he won the Turkish Airlines Open and was named Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year.
Koepka’s name is one to remember, as he will definitely have a great 2015 season and ultimately, a great career.