The Monday qualifier for the Waste Management Phoenix Open has a ridiculously good field

January 27, 2020
Anirban Lahiri tees off during the 3M Open.

If you were to wander out to the range at McCormick Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., this morning, you’d be met with a barrage of accomplished professional golfers getting tuned up before their rounds — in a Monday qualifier. From PGA Tour winners to NCAA champions and even former Presidents Cup team members, the range will be packed with some of the most talented golfers in the world.

Just looking at the pairings sheet, you could be fooled into thinking you were about to watch a PGA Tour event. But the lack of scoreboards, grandstands and hospitality areas tell a different story.

No, it’s not a PGA Tour event, but rather the Tour’s weekly Monday qualifier. The field isn’t playing for any money, they’re playing for opportunity. The opportunity to peg it up Thursday seven miles north of McCormick Ranch at TPC Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Out of the 100 players in the field, just three will realize that opportunity.

Monday qualifier fields for any PGA Tour event (and even for development tour events) are always strong and full of capable players — Corey Conners famously won in San Antonio last year after Monday qualifying — but the field for the Waste Management Phoenix Open is particularly strong.

With its rowdy crowds and unique atmosphere, the Phoenix Open attracts strong fields year after year, limiting the number of spots available to PGA Tour members with conditional status. Because of this, the Monday Qualifier field is full of players who compete inside the ropes 20-plus times per year in other events. Just last week, rookie Sebastian Cappelen was tied for the lead after an opening-round 66 at the Farmers Insurance Open (he’d go on to finish T21). Today he’s just playing for a spot in the field.

To get a sense for the strength of the field, here are some notable players competing today.

Anirban Lahiri – The 32-year-old is an accomplished international player, winning 18 times worldwide in his career. He competed for the International team on two Presidents Cup teams (2015 and 2017) and topped the Asian Tour Order of Merit in 2015.

Alex Cejka – Cejka famously held a five-stroke 54-hole lead during the 2009 Players Championship before a monumental implosion to tumble down the leaderboard. Though that might be the reason you’ve heard of him, he also has won on Tour in his 30-year career. And though he’s nearing Champions Tour eligibility, Cejka has still got some game. Just two years ago he lost to Patrick Cantlay in a playoff at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.

Robert Garrigus – Garrigus was in the headlines for the wrong reasons last season, but he was a noteworthy pro before his cannabis-related suspension. The 42-year-old is a former Tour winner — with three additional losses in playoffs — and has spent time in the top 50 of the World Ranking.

Rhein Gibson – Though he doesn’t have the professional pedigree of some of the others listed, Gibson still holds a piece of golf history. Gibson fired a 16-under 55 during a round at River Oaks Golf Club in Edmond, Okla., in 2012, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the lowest round of golf ever recorded. He can take it deep.

There will be no shortage of talent teeing it up in Scottsdale today, even those not officially in the field for the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

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