The 2023 WM Phoenix Open continues to play catch up as second-round action was suspended due to darkness Friday evening. With half the field still needing to complete Round 2, it is a pair of former world No. 1s that will head into the weekend atop the leaderboard. Defending champion Scottie Scheffler sits at 10 under after 36 holes of play and two strokes clear of the hottest player in the world, Jon Rahm.
Arriving at this tournament a season ago without a single PGA Tour victory to his name, Scheffler parlayed a third-round 62 into his first entry into the winner’s circle. This year, he may look back to his second round as the catalyst for his success as a 7-under 64 saw Scheffler propel his name to the top of the leaderboard.
Aiming to become the first golfer to successfully defend a Phoenix Open title since Hideki Matsuyama in 2016-17, Scheffler will need to handle a chasing pack filled with some of the top talent in the game. In addition to Rahm, Sungjae Im (-7), Xander Schauffele (-6) and Jordan Spieth (-5) are all within a handful and with holes to play in their second rounds which will resume at 9:45 a.m. ET on Saturday.
1. Scottie Scheffler (-10): For the last month, the debate in the world of golf has been whether it now Rory McIlroy, Rahm and then everyone else? Scheffler reminded us Friday this is not the case as the world No. 2 catapulted himself atop the leaderboard with a flawless 7-under 64. Hitting 12 of 14 fairways, Scheffler gained a whopping 5.25 strokes tee to green as he led both off the tee and on approach among those who finished their second rounds. Even without a single birdie on any of the three par 5s, the 26-year-old put together the round of the tournament and has eyes on successfully defending his first PGA Tour title.
“Around this place, when you’re hitting fairways and you’re hitting it well, the golf course can kind of open up for you,” said Scheffler. “But the opposite can happen in a hurry because there’s trouble lurking on basically every hole with there being desert close by. There’s a lot of holes with water as well. When you’re hitting it well, you have to take advantage of it like I did today. Hopefully, I’ll keep putting the ball in position as the week goes on.”
T2. Jon Rahm, Adam Hadwin (-8)
T4. Wyndham Clark, Sungjae Im (-7)
T6. Jason Day, Jhonattan Vegas, Sam Ryder, Xander Schauffele, Nick Taylor (-6)
T11. Adam Schenk, Jim Herman, Tom Kim, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth (-5)
T16. Max Homa, Charley Hoffman (-4)
There is a little bit of everything in this list of contenders: journeymen, major champions and everyone in between. One has to assume the likes of Rahm, Im, Schauffele and the rest of those inside the top 25 in the Official World Golf Rankings will continue to rise as the weekend progresses.
This is precisely what the PGA Tour had in mind when crafting these designated events. With the top players competing against each other on a regular basis, the chances of a Scheffler-Rahm or Schauffele-Im showdown increases dramatically.
“We have 18 of the top 20 players in the world,” said Rahm. “You can expect a few of us to be [shooting a low score]. Some of those hadn’t teed off yet. So, I wouldn’t be shocked if I’m — if Scottie isn’t leading, if he finishes at 9, if he isn’t leading at the end of the day. Yes, conditions can be difficult, but it’s the best players in the world. Somebody can come out there and shoot a low one. So, no, I’m not surprised.”
No. 1 up in the air
The world No. 1 ranking has been a hot topic with Rahm’s current heater. Claiming to be the best player in the world, Rahm sits at No. 3 behind the current leader, Scheffler, and world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is 3 under thru 13 holes in his second round. Both Rahm and Scheffler have an opportunity to claim the top ranking with a victory and some help. This has weighed on the mind of Rahm in recent weeks. The same cannot be said for Scheffler.
“I would probably have to agree [that Rory and Rahm have separated themselves],” said Scheffler. “It’s not like I’m sitting there saying, ‘I’m playing better than those guys right now.’ They have been winning tournaments, and I’ve been kind of on the outside looking in. So no, I haven’t really been paying attention to it too much.”
Players get their revenge on TPC Scottsdale
The course played 1.37 strokes over par in Round 1 as chilly temperatures and windy conditions gave competitors fits. Outside of some cooler temperatures early in the morning, the conditions were much more friendlier on Friday — and players took full advantage. Pooling a scoring average of -0.54 strokes under par, players had their way with the Tom Weiskopf design.
2023 WM Phoenix Open updated odds, picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Scottie Scheffler: 9/5
- Jon Rahm: 33/10
- Xander Schauffele: 6-1
- Sungjae Im: 10-1
- Adam Hadwin: 11-1
- Rory McIlroy: 22-1
- Jordan Spieth: 28-1
- Tony Finau: 30-1
- Wyndham Clark: 35-1
- Tom Kim: 35-1
Everyone except Scheffler, Rahm and Wyndham Clark have to complete their second rounds Saturday morning. The group of Schauffele, Spieth and Finau are on the par-5 13th and in the midst of the scoring stretch of Nos. 13-17. However, on the other side of the golf course, Im sits only three strokes behind Scheffler and with some birdie chances of his own. I don’t expect anyone to surpass Scheffler’s 10-under total and with the possibility of Im inching closer 10-1 could be a steal.