It returned under the management and leadership of the Thunderbirds, a Phoenix-based charitable organisation, and the event went from strength to strength being played at the Phoenix Country Club and the Arizona Country Club with several iconic figures of the game claiming victory.
Nelson, Hogan, Locke, Demaret, Littler, Middlecoff, Casper, Venturi, Fleck, Palmer, Nicklaus, Boros, Miller, Pate, Crenshaw, Graham, Wadkins, Peete and Sutton among others won the Phoenix Open between 1939 and 1986, making the Phoenix Open a sought after title, but it was in 1987 that this big golf tournament became a truly iconic event that the whole of the Arizona community could get behind.
The move to TPC Scottsdale has made it the most attended golf tournament in the world and one of the top ten spectator events held annually anywhere in the world. The first year achieved a then record attendance of 257,000 – some 70,000 more people attended the Phoenix Open in the first year at the TPC than did a year earlier in the final year at Phoenix Country Club.Attendances have since increased dramatically and in seven of the eleven years BETWEEN 2001 AND 2012 THEY topped the half a million mark for spectators over the week of the tournament, with over 100,000 people attending in a single day on 30 days over the last 22 editions of the tournament. Attendances have topped 150,000 on 8 occasions for a single day and the single day record stands at a staggering 173,210 set in the third round of the 2012 tournament.
Only once in the 10 years BETWEEN 2002 AND 2012 DID an attendance on a Friday or Saturday dipped below 100,000 and that was still an attendance of over 74,000 on the Friday in 2011. Truly unbelievable numbers which bare testament to the incredible job the Thunderbirds have done since they took on the running of the Phoenix Open some 74 years ago.
FROM 2016 TO 2018 ATTENDANCES AT THE WM PHOENIX OPEN SHATTERED ALL BARRIERS, WITH OVER 200,000 FANS ATTENDING ON THE SATURDAY OF EACH OF THOSE EVENTS INCLUDING A RECORD 216,818 IN 2018 AND A WEEK TOTAL OF 719,179. AFTER THE 2018 EVENT THE THUNDERBIRDS TOOK THE DECISION TO STOP PUBLISHING THE NUMBER OF FANS IN ATTENDANCE, WITH A FOCUS ON MAKING THE EVENT EXPERIENCE BETTER FOR ALL ATTENDEES AND SEEMINGLY A FOCUS ON MAKING THE EVENT MORE ATTRACTIVE FOR THE WORLD'S BEST GOLFERS TO PLAY.
Over 20,000 seats are located at the par three 16th hole which is marketed as the loudest hole in golf, but it isn't all about one hole at the TPC Scottsdale, this course is truly world-class and could easily stage a Ryder Cup if the opportunity ever came.
It boasts many holes which would be brilliant for match play and has one of the finest four hole finishing stretches in all of golf, beginning at the par five 15th, followed by the 16th then the drivable par four 17th and the demanding par four 18th. This is a true stadium course, I would argue by far a better example of a stadium course than the original at TPC Sawgrass.
it has mounding in all of the right places and the Thunderbirds have fulfilled the potential of this great event by doing everything they possibly can to attract all categories of spectator to the Phoenix Open each FEBRUARY.