FBR Open Inside Track

Our man Harry Emanuel brings you his pre-tournament analysis of the FBR Open at TPC Scottsdale in Arizona.

FBR Open
Course: TPC Scottsdale
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
Since: 1987
Yardage: 7,216
Par: 71
Low winning total: -28 Mark Calcavecchia (2001)
Course Record: 60 Phil Mickelson (2005) Mark Calcavecchia (2001) Grant Waite (1996)
Field: 144
Cut: Top 70 and ties
Tee Off: 15.40 GMT

This is the 72nd playing of the tournament and it is one of the five oldest events on the PGA Tour. The list of winners includes Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson.
The tournament moved to the TPC Scottsdale in 1987 and low scores are often a feature at this event. Since 2000 the average winning score has been around 19 under par.
Last Time Out
Last year J.B Holmes won the FBR Open by defeating Mickelson in a playoff, thanks to a 359-yard drive on the first play-off hole (18) that set up wedge to the 438-yard par four.

For the week, he led the field in driving distance averaging over 316 yards (over 32 yards longer than the field average).

It was his second win in the event. In 2006 he routed the field, defeating J.J. Henry, Steve Lowery, Ryan Palmer, Scott Verplank and Camilo Villegas by seven strokes.

This par 71 resort course was designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Morrish in 1986. It is a typical desert course with little rough and six water hazards.
After the lengthening of holes 6, 9, 14 and 15 in 2003 the course plays 7,216 yards. There are only three par fives but all play less than 600 yards and are reachable in two shots.
As with all resort courses the landing areas in the fairways are very accessible allowing players to really give it a rip off the tee. Wayward shots often end up in the sandy waste areas and players are still able to advance the ball to the green.
Since the course was lengthened in 2003 long hitters have had an advantage.
A classic Weiskopf design the greens are well protected by bunkers with lots of run off areas. The Bentgrass greens will be firm and fast running at 12 on the stimpmeter.
Players tend to make a lot of putts on these greens. Last year the course was ranked second for the number of putts made over 10 feet and first for putts made outside of 25 feet.
They said
“There’s only one 16th hole. There’s only one place on earth, one hole on earth like that. Well, it is a stadium. It’s just fully enclosed, and I don’t know how many people it can hold. But when it’s pumping, it’s crazy out there” – Camilo Villegas
“It looks unbelievable, but it’s going to be a circus. But it looks cool. It looks really cool, full stadium effect. It’s going to be loud” – Pat Perez
“Yeah, it’s fun playing at home. It’s nice sleeping in your own bed. It’s great fun to play in front of the people from your hometown. It’s enjoyable” – Geoff Ogilvy
Horses for Courses
Mickelson will be making his 2009 PGA Tour debut this week at the FBR Open and his 19th consecutive appearance in the event. He has nine top-10 finishes, including five of his last six starts in the tournament. He’s also won twice (1996 and 2005) and has 36 rounds in the 60s.

Another player with a great FBR Open record is Mark Calcavecchia. He’s won the tournament three times (1989, 1992 and 2001) and also has nine top-10 finishes. He’s been in the 60s in 49 of his 78 rounds and has seven rounds of 64 or less.

Both players hold the course record of 60, alongside Grant Waite.

Key Holes
There is no hole in golf that can compare to the 162-yard par three 16th hole at Scottsdale. In the past 15,000 people have surrounded the green each day and voiced their support or disapproval for each player.
This year it is in effect a stadium covered on all sides. The cheers and jeers can be heard all round the course.
Morning frosts are feature of desert weather and the start of play can often be delayed. This year should be no exception with frosty mornings expected on Thursday and Friday. Otherwise playing conditions will be perfect with little to no wind and sunny skies.
Since the changes to the course in 2003 long strikers of the ball have had an advantage but the player who gets ‘hottest’ will the putter is most likely to win.