SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Phil Mickelson made the uphill climb from the ninth green to the 10th tee at TPC Scottsdale, posed for pictures with his pro-am group that included PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan, then handed them off to Brandt Snedeker.
Mickelson was one of several pros to take advantage of the Tour’s new pro-am initiative, which allows players to play only nine holes before another pro joins the amateur group for the back nine. Of the 26 groups in the pro-am field at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, only three pros – Hideki Matsuyama, Charley Hoffman and Xander Schauffele – opted to go all 18 holes Wednesday.
Mickelson is making his 29th tournament appearance this week, and he described the new rule change as a “win-win.”
“I think it’s a win for the amateurs because they get a two-pro experience, and it’s a win for the professionals because they have more time to get ready and prepare for the event,” Mickelson said.
Other pros who opted for only nine holes Wednesday included Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler.
Mickelson was in the field at last year’s FedEx St. Jude Classic when the rule change was first implemented. This is the first event of 2018 to feature the two-pro option, although it is expected to be used at a handful of tournaments throughout the year.
Mickelson said he “wasn’t involved” in the decision by the Tour to change the pro-am setup, but it’s an option he hopes to see more often in the future.
“I did it in Memphis last year, and I thought it was really a great thing. Especially in Memphis, where it was so hot and difficult to play all 18 holes, it went over really well,” he said. “It also isn’t just using the same 50 guys every week, it’s using over 100 pros, so I hope that it takes hold a little bit more, because I think it’s a good thing for everybody involved.”