The Waste Management Phoenix Open is known for its stadium scene at the 16th hole, but the tournament is more than a one-hole wonder. The event regularly boasts the largest crowds on the US PGA Tour, and in all of sport for that matter. Last year’s WMPO drew an estimated 655,434 fans to the premises, breaking the weekly attendance record by 30,000.
And word out of the Arizona desert is 2018’s circus could be even bigger.
According to AZCentral’s John Davis, there was speculation at TPC Scottsdale on Monday that “This Saturday’s attendance could approach 250,000”.
For context, the tournament set the single-day crowd mark in 2017… with 204,906 fans enjoying the Saturday show.
“With the field, the crowd and the pro-am lineup, in my opinion we have the right ingredients for an amazing week,” chairman Carlos Sugich told Davis.
What’s the catalyst behind this (projected) uptick? This year’s field is perhaps the best in tournament history, led by the hottest player in golf, and Arizona State University product, Jon Rahm. Other popular figures include Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, another ‘Sun Devil’ who’s won the event three times. Two-time defending champ Hideki Matsuyama will also tee it up.
As for the weather, the current Saturday forecast calls for a cloudless, sunny sky with temperatures hovering around the low-20s Celsius – ideal conditions to take in the TPC Scottsdale spectacle.
However, these numbers should be tempered. Calculating crowd size is a fickle matter, and the WMPO figures have long been, ahem, taken with a grain of salt.
Nevertheless, Sugich says the numbers take a back seat to a different priority.
“I would love to break the record again, but to be honest we already have the largest tournament in the world and we are really focused on the experience for fans,” he said. “We want people to enjoy the new amenities and everything that the tournament has to offer, no matter how many fans we have. At the end of the day, the experience is what it’s all about.”