1. Forever a hero at 16
The Waste Management Phoenix Open has come up with a beautiful, temporary tribute to the late Jarrod Lyle – as well as a monument celebrating the Australian and every other golfer who has made a hole-in-one at TPC Scottsdale’s 16th during the tournament. A temporary memorial will be placed at the famous 16th during Saturday’s third round. It will feature a replica of Lyle’s tour bag filled with replica clubs, including the 8-iron he used to ace the par 3 during the 2011 edition. A yellow bucket hat will be draped on top. A round plaque, painted yellow and displaying the Australian flag, will be stationed nearby. The middle of the marker reads: “In memory of Jarrod Lyle.” Engraved around the edge are the words: “Hole-in-one, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011, 9:16 am, 150 yards, 8-iron. Rest in Peace.”
There are just two Australians teeing it up at TPC Scottsdale this week – world No.28 Cameron Smith and Aaron Baddeley, who lives in the Scottsdale area. Smith could be a dangerous prospect this week given he snuck into the top-10 at Torrey Pines with a Sunday 65 – equalling Adam Scott for the lowest round on the South course last week. While Scott finished runner-up to Justin Rose, Smith came from the wilderness to share ninth place – despite admitting he didn’t have his A-game – and ensured he arrives at the Phoenix Open full of confidence.”I really like the event; I don’t think I could do it every week but it is a lot of fun,” Smith told Australian Golf Digest about the Phoenix Open’s party atmosphere. “I really like the golf course. I have never had my best stuff there in previous events but I’d like to change that.” So, what’s Smith’s strategy for the party hole 16th? “I normally take one less club and hit it as hard as I can,” laughs Smith. “With all the adrenaline you can get pretty amped up, so it’s better to be aggressive.”
3. Beware the Wolff
Matthew Wolff has already made a name for himself as the world No.4 amateur with the very unique swing, who last year sank the winning putt for Oklahoma State University during their NCAA victory. Wolff also finished fourth at the recent Australian Masters of the Amateurs tournament at Royal Melbourne. Now, Wolff will make his PGA Tour debut on a sponsor’s invitation to the Phoenix Open. Check out Wolff’s powerful action as filmed by his coach, quirky LA swing instructor George Gankas, during a practice round at TPC Scottsdale yesterday:
4. Miller’s swansong
Legendary golf broadcaster Johnny Miller will call his final round for NBC during the third round of the Phoenix Open. The network said it would celebrate Miller during the broadcast on the Saturday instead of Sunday to avoid overshadowing the eventual Phoenix Open champion. The final round is also on the same day as the Super Bowl. Miller has been NBC’s lead analyst since 1990. Paul Azinger will replace Miller as NBC’s lead golf analyst and will call the final round in Phoenix.
5. Winning omen?
Justin Thomas hasn’t won in his past 10 starts, but the last time he went 10 starts without a victory, he won his next tournament. Since claiming the WGC-Bridgestone in August, Thomas has still managed five top-10 results including a third placing at the recent Tournament of Champions in Hawaii. Is it a sign he is going to win this week?