SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (AP) — Under any other circumstance, Phil Mickelson would skip a U.S. tour fall series event.
He is, after all, the No. 2 money winner on the tour this year behind Tiger Woods.
This one, though, brings the Arizona State University alumnus back to his old home and, more importantly, to the Grayhawk Golf Club, part of one of the first large, high-end housing developments built in northern-most Scottsdale.
The area, Mickelson said Wednesday, “has a lot of special memories for me.”
“It’s one of the first companies I represented, and I have been with Grayhawk for 15 years now,” he said. “It was a long-term vision or goal of ours to hold a PGA Tour event. Now that it’s here, it’s pretty cool.”
The Fry’s Electronic Open begins on Thursday on the par-70, 7,125-yard Raptor course, and with so many tour regulars living nearby, the field is the best of the seven tournaments in the series.
Other notables include Aaron Baddeley, Tom Lehman, John Daly, David Duval, Justin Leonard, Steve Elkington and Mark Calcavecchia. Leonard won the Texas Open on Oct. 7 in San Antonio.
The winner of the $5 million (3.52 million), four-day event will get $900,000 (633,800). The tournament is sponsored by the Thunderbirds, the same group that runs the wildly successful FBR Open just down the road at the TPC Scottsdale.
There won’t be the gigantic, partying crowds of the FBR, though. This is a more intimate setting, and sponsors are expecting 10,000 to 15,000 fans per day.
Like many others in the 132-player field, Mickelson is no stranger to the course.
“I probably have played 300 or 400 rounds out here over the years, I’m guessing,” he said. “There’s a lot of holes that are going to be birdie holes, short par 4s. No. 7 is a tough hole, regardless of what par is. But it’s still going to be low scores. We still have a lot of birdies here.”
Mickelson said his troublesome wrist is fine and that he’s in good spirits following the U.S. victory in the Presidents Cup. He plans on breaking in some new irons here.
“I’m also going to Singapore and China to play,” he said, “and it will give me a chance to have some competitive rounds with those clubs before next year.”
George McNeill won last week’s Frys.com Open in Las Vegas for his first U.S. tour victory.
“Obviously my goals have changed,” McNeill said. “Before it was, ‘I hope I make enough money to keep my card. And now I’m going, ‘I hope I make enough money to get in the top 30 to get in the Masters.”‘
Baddeley, an Australian who lives in Scottsdale, won the FBR Open in February.
“I feel like I’m playing at home,” he said. “I’ve been living here about eight years. I feel like I’m playing in Melbourne, back in Australia. All the friends and family are out here. I have about 60 tickets here.”