This Week in Golf — Jan. 28-Feb. 1

OPEN, TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona – The annual party in the desert is
this week in Scottsdale as the PGA Tour heads to the TPC Scottsdale for the
Waste Management Phoenix Open, where the normally big crowds will be bigger
than ever this week.

Minus last year’s champion Kevin Stadler, the tournament gets a huge boost
from the return of Tiger Woods. Returning to the tour for his first official
event since the PGA Championship, Woods is teeing it up at this tournament for
the first time since 2001.

The par-3 16th is far and away the most raucous hole in golf, and it was never
louder than when Woods aced the hole in 1997. Woods raised the roof as beers
and debris showered down on the tee box.

The 16th has never been the same since. Bleachers and corporate sky boxes
surround the hole, housing 20,000 fans, or more, at any given time.

Last year, Stadler closed with a 3-under 68 and rallied past Bubba Watson for
the win. The victory was Stadler’s first on the PGA Tour. However, he will
not defend as he is battling a hand injury.

Woods won’t be the only star on site this week. Phil Mickelson, who won this
tournament as an amateur while he attended Arizona State, will tee it up at
this event for the 26th time.

Also teeing it up this week will be Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Matt
Kuchar and Bill Haas, who beat Kuchar and four other players by one stroke to
win the Humana Challenge on Sunday.

Golf Channel will have coverage all four days. Their coverage on Saturday and
Sunday will be early, before they hand off to CBS for the first time this

The PGA Tour returns to California next week for the Farmers Insurance Open,
where Scott Stallings will defend his title against a field that includes
Woods, Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, who returns to the tour for the first
time since last year’s Canadian Open.


OMEGA DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC, Emirates Golf Club (Majlis Course), Dubai, United
Arab Emirates – While many of the top PGA Tour players will be in the Arizona
desert this week, several top European Tour stalwarts will tee it up in Dubai.

World No. 1 Rory McIlroy will headline the field at Emirates Golf Club this
week. In his last 11 worldwide starts, McIlroy has been outside the top-8 just
once. McIlroy has finished second or tied for second in each of his last four
official starts.

McIlroy trailed third-round leader Stephen Gallacher by two strokes entering
the final round last year, but stumbled to a 2-over 74 and slid into a share
of ninth place.

Gallacher fired a 63 in round three to grab the lead, and he closed with an
even-par 72, which was enough to give him a 1-stroke win over Emiliano Grillo,
who tied for fifth last week in Qatar.

The victory for Gallacher was his second straight at this event, and third on
the European Tour. He was the first player to successfully defend a title in
the 25-year history of the tournament.

Among those in the field with McIlroy and Gallacher will be world No. 2 Henrik
Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Lee Westwood and last
week’s winner, Branden Grace.

Golf Channel has early morning coverage of all four rounds this week.

The European Tour heads to Asia next week for the Maybank Malaysian Open,
where Westwood cruised to a 7-stroke win over three players last April.


COATES GOLF CHAMPIONSHIP, Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club, Ocala,
Florida – The LPGA Tour kicks off its 2015 schedule in Florida this week with
a new event.

For a first-year event, the field is full of stars. Sixteen of the top-20
players in the world are in the field this week.

That group includes Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Stacy Lewis, the top-3 players in
the world, along with reigning U.S. Women’s Open Champion Michelle Wie and
Lexi Thompson, who won the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Former major winners Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel and Karrie Webb are in the
field as well. Tiger Woods’ niece, Cheyenne, was one of the two sponsor
invites to the event.

Golf Channel will have coverage of all four rounds of the event, that runs
from Wednesday to Saturday.

The tour heads to Atlantis next week for the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic,
where Jessica Korda closed with a 66 last year to hold off Lewis.


PANAMA CLARO CHAMPIONSHIP, Panama Golf Club, Panama City, Panama – Like the
LPGA, the Tour kicks off its season this week. The Tour starts
with five straight events outside the United States.

First up is the Panama Claro Championship, where Carlos Ortiz cruised to a 4-
stroke win last year. The win for Ortiz was his first of three on the season,
and that earned him a trip to the PGA Tour.

Ortiz was just 2-under par after 36 holes, but he played the final 36 holes in
10-under par en route to a 4-shot win over Jason Gore.

Thanks to his promotion to the PGA Tour, Ortiz will not be on hand, but there
are some familiar names in the field like Carlos Franco, Tim Herron, Frank
Lickliter, Jamie Lovemark, Ryuji Imada, Rod Pampling and Vaughn Taylor.

There is no television coverage this week.

The Tour heads to Bogota next week for the Pacific Rubiales Colombia
Championship, where Alex Cejka carded a 63 in the third round and was awarded
the victory after rain washed out play for the fourth straight day.