The Phoenix Open (known as the Waste Management Phoenix Open for title sponsorship reasons) is a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour, held in late January/early February at the Tournament Players Club(TPC) of Scottsdale, Arizona. The tournament was originally the Arizona Open, but was known for most of its history as the Phoenix Open until the investment bank Friedman Billings Ramsey became the title sponsor in October 2003, when it was known as the FBR Open. The Phoenix Open is called “The Greatest Show on Grass”.
The Phoenix Open began 84 years ago in 1932 but was discontinued after the 1935 tournament. The rebirth of the Phoenix Open came in 1939 when Bob Goldwater, Sr. convinced fellow Thunderbirds to help run the event. The Thunderbirds, a prominent civic organization in Phoenix, were not as enthusiastic about running the event as he was, leaving Goldwater, Sr. to do most of the work in getting a golf open started. The event was played at the Phoenix Country Club in Phoenix, both in its earlier incarnations and after Goldwater resuscitated it. Beginning in 1955, the Arizona Country Club (also in Phoenix) alternated as event host with Phoenix Country Club; this arrangement lasted until Phoenix Country Club took The Arizona Country Club's turn in 1975 and became the event's permanent home again.
The tournament was moved in 1987 to its current home, the Stadium Course at TPC Scottsdale, northeast of downtown Phoenix. The approximate average elevation of the course is 1,530 feet (470 m) above sea level.
The four-day attendance of the tournament is usually around a half million. The most popular location for spectators is the par-3 16th hole, with is "Amphitheatre" atmosphere, created by the stands erected every year before the tournament. The hole could be described as "one big party," with many students from the nearby Arizona State University in Tempe. Poor shots at the 16th hole receive boos, because the hole is very easy by the PGA's standards. Good shots, however, are cheered for loudly. Famous moments at the 16th include Tiger Woods' hole-in-one in 1997, which caused the gallery to erupt, throwing cups and other objects in celebration, and Justin Leonard giving the finger to the gallery after a poor shot. In 2011 Australian golfer Jarrod Lyle aced the hole, causing the stands to erupt in excitement.
The most popular golfer at the Waste Management Phoenix Open is unquestionably Phil Mickelson, an Arizona State alumnus. In addition to the golf, there is a concert/party held in the Scottsdale area called the Birds Nest, at which music artists like Huey Lewis and the News play.
It is the best-attended event in golf. In 2016, it set a PGA Tour and Phoenix Open single day attendance record with 201,003 fans in attendance on Saturday, February 6 and set a tournament week attendance record of 618,365 fans.
The Thunderbirds are still highly active in the organization of the tournament. Portions of the proceeds are used by the Thunderbirds to fund Special Olympics activities in Phoenix.
The tournament's lowest 72-hole score was set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001 with 256 (–28), which was matched by Mickelson in 2013. In the second round Calcavecchia scored a 60 (–11), which equalled the lowest score at the Phoenix Open (by Grant Waite in 1996) and subsequently matched by Mickelson in 2005 and 2013. Calcavecchia had 32 birdies in the tournament, which was also an all-time record.
There have been only two double eagles in the history of the Phoenix Open. Tom Pernice, Jr. made the first one on the 558-yard par-5 15th hole in 1990. Andrew Magee scored the second on the 332-yard par-4 17th hole in 2001. Magee's shot is believed to be the first-ever hole in one on a par-4 in PGA Tour history.
Four men have won three times at the Phoenix Open: Arnold Palmer won three consecutive (1961, 1962, 1963), then Gene Littler (1955, 1959, 1969), Calcavecchia (1989, 1992, 2001), and Mickelson (1996, 2005, 2013).