The first round of the 2023 WM Phoenix Open will leak into Friday as play was delayed by more than an hour due to frost to start Thursday’s first round and darkness causing play to be suspended to end the day. With the entire afternoon wave still needing to complete their first rounds after play was suspended, it is Canadians Nick Taylor and Adam Hadwin swho finished the day at the top of the leaderboard at 5 under.
Xander Schauffele sits one back at 4 under as he continues to thrive in the desert setting. Holding the low scoring average at TPC Scottsdale among those who have played 20 rounds, Schauffele is primed to rectify his mistakes of years past. While this trio was able to post respectable scores in the chilly, windy conditions of the morning, they would ultimately receive the short end of the stick.
Playing 1.65 strokes over par in the morning, TPC Scottsdale was susceptible to a few more birdies later in the day and held a scoring average closer to par during the afternoon wave. Keegan Bradley, Max Homa, and Jon Rahm were among many able to take advantage of the friendlier winds and will attempt to keep the momentum rolling as they head into Friday morning in red figures.
T1. Adam Hadwin, Nick Taylor (-5)
While the Canadian flag sits next to their names, the two of them are both Scottsdale, Arizona, transplants and are putting their local knowledge to good use. Despite Taylor leading the field in strokes gained tee to green Thursday, it is actually Hadwin who may have more staying power on this leaderboard. A player to regularly pop up in the desert, Hadwin has shown the propensity to go low as showcased by his 59 six years ago at La Quinta Country Club in Palm Springs, California.
“Canadian golf has been in a great place for a while now, Corey [Conners] and Mackenzie [Hughes] kind of leading the way,” Hadwin said. “We had Adam Svensson winning this year, as well, along with Mackenzie. It’s a great group to be a part of. I’m really disappointed I didn’t get to 6-under because I saw Nick up there, and I wanted to hold it over him tonight. But yeah, it’s fun. It’s a great group to be a part of, and we share a lot of laughs together.”
T3. Xander Schauffele, Jason Day, Jim Herman (-4)
T6. Max Homa, Jon Rahm, Keegan Bradley, Charley Hoffman, Scott Stallings, Taylor Moore, Wyndham Clark, Chesson Hadley (-3)
Schauffele probably should have a pair of WM Phoenix Open trophies on his mantle as he surrendered late leads each of the last two years. Unable to get across the finish line, the 29-year-old has once again positioned him nicely to contend. With the two-man battle currently going on at the top of the golf world, it is sometimes easy to forget just how consistently good Schauffele has been.
“It was tricky,” Schauffele said of the windy conditions. “They moved one pin there on 15. It was a front left pin and it was blowing 30 left to right, so they moved that to the right. There were a few really hard ones. I’d say there’s no great way to set the course up when you have a bunch of crosswinds coming across all these holes. I thought it was all right.”
What happened to Rory McIlroy?
The world No. 1’s first round featured a mixed bag. Signing for a 2-over 73, McIlroy carded four bogeys against two birdies and bled strokes to the field both off the tee and on approach. A rarity for a driver of his caliber, this was not lost on the Northern Irishman. Thursday marked McIlroy’s fifth round of his career at TPC Scottsdale as he has historically chosen to skip this event.
“I wouldn’t say that this is a golf course that sets up terribly well for me,” McIlroy said. “I struggle off the tee here. I feel like all the fairway bunkers are right in my landing zones. But it’s a challenge, and again, like I’m trying to embrace that challenge. Yeah, look, not an event I historically play, but I feel like I’m a good enough player to figure it out and contend and win on any golf course.”
Were there any dramatics on the 16th?
A number of tee shots nearly found the bottom of the cup on the rowdy par-3 16th. Tony Finau, Kevin Kisner and Sungjae Im all had realistic looks to jar an ace, but unfortunately, the fans at the stadium hole will have to wait another day for a possibility of a hole-in-one.
2023 WM Phoenix Open updated odds and picks
Odds via Caesars Sportsbook
- Jon Rahm: 3-1
- Xander Schauffele: 6-1
- Max Homa: 9-1
- Scottie Scheffler: 11-1
- Jason Day: 11-1
- Keegan Bradley: 18-1
- Adam Hadwin: 20-1
- Viktor Hovland: 22-1
- Tony Finau: 22-1
- Tom Kim: 28-1
- Wyndham Clark: 35-1
- Sungjae Im: 40-1
- Justin Thomas: 45-1
- Matt Fitzpatrick: 50-1
- Nick Taylor: 50-1
Scheffler has gone relatively under the radar this week with Rahm and McIlroy in the field. The defending champion will face a 6-foot par putt on the 12th to begin his Friday and should he convert, he will remain at 1 under and only four strokes off the pace. With birdie opportunities on Nos. 13-17 still in front of him, don’t be surprised if Scheffler signs for something around 3 under in Round 1. At 11-1, this could be the last chance to get the world No. 2 at double-digit odds.
Joe Musso, Rick Gehman and Kyle Porter break down Thursday’s action live from the WM Phoenix Open. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.