PHOENIX – Although the PGA Tour isn’t expected to release its official schedule until the summer, it’s a safe bet that the final round of the WM Phoenix Open will fall on Feb. 12, 2023.
That’s the day Super Bowl LVII unfolds at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, and the WMPO is the one tournament that the Tour knows can compete with even the nation’s biggest sporting event.
”If the schedule works out and the Super Bowl is in town, it could be one special weekend,” said Michael Golding, tournament chairman of the 2022 Waste Management Phoenix Open. “So much buzz surrounds both of our events and could help us make a real impact in the community. We’re excited.”
When the NFL expanded its season to 17 games in 2021, it meant the Super Bowl had to be pushed forward a week. The PGA Tour responded by flip-flopping the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am and the WMPO to keep the Phoenix event “in its traditional date of Super Bowl week,” according to a Tour’s news release at the time.
Scottie Scheffler beat Patrick Cantlay on the third hole of a two-man, sudden-death playoff in this year’s tournament, providing a perfect lead-in to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.
And as soon as the Los Angeles Rams dispatched the Cincinnati Bengals and accepted the Lombardi Trophy, the Valley began looking ahead to next year’s game, which will bring celebrities and fans from around the country to the game and, likely, the golf tournament..
Assuming the PGA Tour doesn’t break with tradition, Arizona is in for a wild February weekend of football and golf a year from now.
It will be the fourth Super Bowl played in Arizona, and the three previous games were played on the same weekend as the Phoenix Open.
That could change if social issues intervene, and that has happened before, too.
Super Bowl XVII in 1993 was moved from Phoenix to Pasadena, California, when an initiative to create a Martin Luther King Day holiday in Arizona failed to pass. The NFL had threatened to move the game if the vote failed, and it made good on it.
And now, faith leaders from Arizona and other areas of the country have called upon the NFL to move the 2023 Super Bowl out of the state because of several pieces of legislation that they believe are voter suppression measures.
After losing the game in 1993, Arizona voters ultimately passed a King Day initiative and the NFL awarded Super Bowl XXX in 1996 to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.
In response, the PGA Tour bumped the first round of the 1996 Phoenix Open to Wednesday so that the tournament ended on a Saturday instead of Super Bowl Sunday. Arizona State alum Phil Mickelson won the first of his three Phoenix Open titles on Saturday, and the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX the following day.
The golf tournament and the Super Bowl bumped heads again on Feb. 3, 2008, at what was then known as University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. This time, the PGA Tour left the final round on Sunday.
Mickelson was again in contention, and before big-hitting J.B. Holmes won the tournament, Mickelson – who lost to Holmes in a playoff – handed his Super Bowl XLII tickets to his caddie JIm “Bones” Mackay and told Mackay to give them away to some fans attending the tournament.
Mackay picked John Fockler and his son Drew out of the crowd and they not only got to enjoy the local golf event in Scottsdale, they watched quarterback Eli Manning and the New York Giants upset Tom Brady’s undefeated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
The WMPO and Super Bowl met again in 2015 when the final round and the big game fell on Sunday, Feb. 1. This time, Brooks Koepka captured his first win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, then the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks produced one of the most controversial endings in Super Bowl history.
Rather than give the ball to powerful running back Marshawn Lynch on New England’s 1-yard line with 26 seconds to play and a chance to win the game, the Seahawks dialed up a pass play for their franchise quarterback Russell Wilson.
New England cornerback Malcom Butler picked off Wilson short of the goal line, clinching Super Bowl XLIX for Brady and the Patriots.