The PGA Tour moves to the hot-seat capital of the golf world this week.
Every player arriving to the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale will be on a hot seat at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, with about 20,000 rowdy fans waiting to greet him amid the most raucous atmosphere in the game.
Our official declaration of The Hot Seat designees, however, isn’t limited to Phoenix. You don’t even have to be playing this week to occupy one of the toastiest seats in the game. Just ask Suzann Pettersen.
Here’s our special weekly gauge of the heat that top players are facing this week:
Sonoran slow roast: J.B. Holmes
Holmes couldn’t pick a wilder venue to go to in the wake of the controversy that erupted following his slow play in Sunday’s finish to the Farmers Insurance Open.
The stadium built around TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole is golf’s version of the Roman Coliseum. It’s like Holmes is throwing himself to the lions there, but, hey, he’s one of their former champions. It’s the 10-year anniversary of his victory in Phoenix, and, again, everybody is on the hot seat there.
The phrase “grin and bear it” wasn’t heard first at the 16th at TPC Scottsdale, but the approach is practically advanced philosophy there.
Texas Gunslinger Habanero: Jordan Spieth
Big names are off to big starts in 2018.
Dustin Johnson is already on the board with a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions at year’s start. Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge two weeks ago, and Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open last weekend.
Rory McIlroy hasn’t won yet, but he’s looking poised to pounce with a second-place finish and a tie for third in his first two starts of the year.
Spieth would love to answer in Phoenix, where he has two top-10 finishes in two starts. He will be playing with Justin Thomas in the first two rounds, with Thomas also eager to get on the board with an early win after a fast start last year helped him claim the PGA Tour Player of the Year award.
Political Hot Potato: Suzann Pettersen
Pettersen isn’t playing this week, but she is in headlines around the globe, and not just on golf websites or sports sections.
Pettersen’s name recognition skyrocketed, with folks who don’t know a golf ball from a meatball now knowing who she is, thanks to comments attributed to her regarding President Donald Trump’s golf habits.
News sites everywhere picked up reports from a Norwegian newspaper quoting Pettersen as saying the president “cheats like hell,” and quoting her making other unflattering remarks about his game.
Pettersen explained on Facebook that she didn’t accuse the president of cheating, that her words were being taken “way” out of context and are “not a fair account” of a more lengthy and “very positive interview.”
She called it “#fakenews.”
The Norwegian reporter responded that he has a recording of the interview.
Whew, LPGA officials welcome more media coverage of their tour, but Politico, Red State and the National Review probably aren’t what they had in mind.