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‘Dawgs on Tour: Recycled Title Edition

WM Phoenix Open - Round Three Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Tournament: WM Phoenix Open, February 8-11, 2024

Course: TPC Scottsdale, par 71, 7,261 yards. On the north side of Phoenix in the Scottsdale, AZ suburbs.

Purse: $8.8 million in total, with $1,584,000 to the winner. Losing last year’s temporary “Signature” status dropped the purse from the $20 million it awarded in 2023.

Defending Champ: Scottie Scheffler. Solidly at #1 in the world, The UT Longhorn closed strong on Sunday and defended his 2022 WM title. 9 former Bulldogs were in the same field, but 6 missed the cut and Brian Harman’s T42 was the best finish. Keith Mitchell had a top 10 in 2021, but that’s the best result by a ‘Dawg since Harris English had a 3rd in 2016, and Bubba Watson’s oh-so-close finishes the preceding years.

Fun Fact: If you’ve read this feature over the years I’ve covered the spectacle at the 16th hole pretty comprehensively (but feel free to share your own anecdotes in the comments). And the 200,000+ fans who convene on the 3rd round with its requisite alcohol-fueled frivolity. And just the uniqueness of this tournament. After all, Post Malone had a concert last Saturday on the property, Dierks Bentley and Duran Duran are scheduled to play, and even the PGA Tour Wives will have a 9 hole charity shootout. Say what you will, but they not only throw a party, they contribute millions to charity every year.

TV Times: Thursday & Friday, 4-8 pm ET (Golf Channel), and Saturday & Sunday 1-3 pm (Golf Channel) and 3-6 pm (NBC).

‘Dawgs in the Field: 6. Greyson Sigg, Davis Thompson, Brian Harman, Harris English, Brendon Todd, Keith Mitchell.

This is a premiere event on the Tour schedule, in as much as a regular Tour stop can be. That is mostly due to the raucous crowds and atmosphere, but that also means it attracts a few big names. Unfortunately the field is taking a hit, with several stars dropping out late. The reasons are because last week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am was pushed to a Monday finish that was eventually scrapped, because some stars have played the last several weeks in a row due to loving the West Coast, Tiger’s tournament is next week in L.A. and everyone invited is prepping for that, and some because there is actually rain in the forecast for Scottsdale. That atmospheric river just keeps a comin’.

You’ve got your OWGR (Official World Golf Ranking), your FedEx Cup standing, and you have your AON Swing 5 and Comcast Business Tour Top 10. These last 2 are somewhat lesser known and are “in season” rankings that affect players eligibility for upcoming events. All these kinda-sorta-contrived lists are in an effort to reward recent good play, create buzz on a week-to-week basis, and make sure players know every tournament has consequence so they don’t just mail it in knowing their eligibility is safe.

As I mentioned, there hasn’t been much success from a Bulldog perspective at this tourney, at least since Bubba Watson moved to LIV. Still, I like Keith Mitchell this week. “Cashmere Keith” has some drip and rizz, and has been showing it via several media channels of late (interviews on Sirius XM PGA Tour radio, lengthy segment on Golf Channel last week, etc.). I expect him to do well with the fans and noise. Plus, he’s starting to show some decent form.

And you can never count out Brian Harman, reigning Open Champion. But my heart wants a good high finish for Davis Thompson. This is his 2nd year on Tour after a heralded career at UGA and a good showing would get him in position to make the majors or at least the year-end playoffs.

There are some other sporting events around (if we don’t beat Arkansas in basketball, I don’t know what I’ll do). But between Thursday and Sunday, there’s a spectacle in the desert that just happens to include former Georgia golfers. Enjoy whatever you choose, and as always...