By JOHN NICHOLSON, AP Sports activities Author
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — High-ranked Jon Rahm starred at Arizona State and lives within the Valley of the Solar. He is nonetheless attempting to place all of it collectively within the WM Phoenix Open.
“It’s at all times per week I stay up for,” Rahm stated Wednesday after enjoying 9 holes within the pro-am with Inexperienced Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “I’ve lots of help this week. It’s a house week. It’s a particular occasion, proper? It’s an occasion not like some other.”
Rahm had his greatest end on TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course — about three miles west of his Silverleaf dwelling — whereas nonetheless in school, tying for fifth in 2015. In 5 begins as a professional, the Spaniard’s greatest end is a tie for ninth in 2020 and his worst a tie for sixteenth in 2017.
“You’re used to enjoying desert golf, and I believe the altitude, simply dwelling right here, I’m used to how far the ball goes, which could be a problem for some folks, however it’s laborious to get used to how agency and quick the greens are,” Rahm stated. “I play at Silverleaf loads. The greens are simply as quick, however they’re positively not as agency. That’s one thing you may solely accomplish right here.”
The match is per week later than typical so it could actually coincide with the Tremendous Bowl, additionally moved again per week with an additional recreation on the NFL schedule. The temperature is predicted to be within the low 80s all 4 days.
“I really like this golf course, man,” defending champion Brooks Koepka stated. “It fits me all the way down to the bottom. I believe you see lots of guys that hit it lengthy and fade it, play effectively right here. … It’s a bomber’s paradise. For those who can put the ball in play, you may make some good scores.”
Koepka received a yr in the past when attendance was restricted to five,000 a day as a result of due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The followers are again in drive this yr.
“You hit a foul shot, they’re going to get on you,” stated Koepka, additionally the 2015 winner. “Type of refocuses you. I get pleasure from that ambiance you get in different sports activities, soccer, the place it’s a little bit rowdy, basketball the place they have been chirping you, no matter. I like that.”
The sector options six of the highest 10 gamers on the earth and 28 of the highest 50. No. 3 Viktor Hovland is enjoying together with No. 4 Patrick Cantlay, the FedEx Cup champion making his match debut, and No. 7 Justin Thomas, No. 8 Xander Schauffele and No. 10 Hideki Matsuyama.
Hovland received his third PGA Tour title in November at Mayakoba and took the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Basic two weeks in the past. The Norwegian star is making his second look within the occasion.
“It is desert golf, not likely lots of wind,” Hovland stated. “You’d assume it might be fairly straightforward, however simply with how the greens are so agency and quick, it’s laborious to get actual near the pins. I believe ball-striking goes to be essential.”
Matsuyama is enjoying for the primary time since profitable the Sony Open final month in Hawaii. The Masters champion received in Scottsdale in 2016 and 2017.
Rahm took an extended break after the Ryder Cup, returning final month to complete second within the Sentry Match of Champions. He is coming off a third-place tie two weeks in the past at Torrey Pines, the location of his U.S. Open victory final summer season.
“I believe among the finest selections I’ve made in my life was taking these 2 1/2 months off on the finish of the yr,” Rahm stated. “I wouldn’t be stunned if it’s one thing I do extra typically.”
He was stunned how nervous Rodgers was throughout the pro-am.
“It’s simply humorous to see, anyone who’s on the market, who’s MVP, who is among the greatest quarterbacks of all time be that nervous,” Rahm stated.
DIVOTS: Charles Howell III is making his 600th PGA Tour begin. “I’ve grey hair to show each a type of begins,” the 42-year-old Howell stated. … Tom Hoge is within the subject after profitable his first tour title Sunday at Pebble Seaside. … Arizona State freshman Preston Summerhays acquired a sponsor exemption.
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