WM Phoenix Open: Scottie Scheffler trying to defend title against Rory McIlroy, loaded field in Arizona

The first of Scottie Scheffler's four wins last season came at TPC Scottsdale

All eyes are on the Valley this week.

Not only will Super Bowl LVII kick off on Sunday afternoon at State Farm Stadium, but The People’s Major is bringing out a ridiculously strong field just a few miles away in Scottsdale.

Here’s everything you need to know for the 2023 WM Phoenix Open.

Tournament Basics

WM Phoenix Open

Feb. 9-12

TPC Scottsdale | Scottsdale, Arizona

Par 71 | 7,261 yards

Purse: $8.5 million

FedExCup points for winner: 500

Betting favorites, via BetMGM: Jon Rahm (+750), Rory McIlroy (+800)

Last time out: Scottie Scheffler grabs first Tour win

Scottie Scheffler’s impressive rise all started at the 2022 WM Phoenix Open.

Scheffler beat out Patrick Cantlay in a three-hole playoff at last year’s event to pick up his first career PGA Tour title in his 71st career start. That win sparked his breakout year on Tour, which quickly led him to the No. 1 ranking in the world.

Scheffler used the WM Phoenix Open win, and wins a few weeks later at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, to springboard him to a green jacket at The Masters in April. Scheffler also finished second at the U.S. Open and the Tour Championship, and had 11 top-10 finishes on the year.

Scheffler enters this week at No. 2 in the world trying to defend his title at TPC Scottsdale. He has three top-10 finishes this season already, and went T11 last time out at The American Express.

While everything has changed for Scheffler in the span of a year, he’s not feeling it.

“I think it's definitely been a lot different for me coming out to tournaments and stuff, but I don't really feel much different than I did sitting here last year,” he said Wednesday. “As far as playing, I'm just always trying to get a little bit better, and the golf stuff for me doesn't change too much. I'm just showing up and trying to do my best. Hopefully that'll put me in a good spot going into Sunday.”

The first of Scottie Scheffler's four wins last year came at the WM Phoenix Open
The first of Scottie Scheffler's four wins last year came at the WM Phoenix Open. (Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) (Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy’s 2023 debut in a crowded field

Rory McIlroy is back on Tour this week for the first time in October. He certainly picked a loaded event to make his 2023 debut.

Twenty-three of the top 24 golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings who are eligible to compete on Tour are playing at TPC Scottsdale in what is one of the strongest fields so far this season.

McIlroy is going to need a strong finish if he wants to keep his No. 1 ranking, too. If McIlroy stumbles, there are real paths for Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler to jump him.

McIlroy, however, had a very simple answer when asked if he felt like the best player in the world on Wednesday: “Yes.”

“Because I do. I'm playing well. I feel like consistency-wise, I've been as good as I have been ever in my career,” McIlroy said. “I said at the end of last year, I feel like as complete of a player as I ever have. If you just look at my statistical categories, there's no real glaring weaknesses there. I've worked really hard on that, to try to become a more well-rounded player.”

For more on McIlroy, click here.

Netflix show incoming

Netflix is set to release the “Full Swing” golf documentary next week, which will delve into both the Tour and its feud with LIV Golf in 2022.

Based on the trailers that have been released so far, Netflix got incredible access.

McIlroy initially wasn’t going to be in the documentary, but he suddenly popped up in the trailer.

“I sort of took the attitude of see how the first season works out, see if I like it, like the idea, feel comfortable letting cameras get into my life a little bit more,” McIlroy said. “But I had a good chat with [producer Chad Mumm] in the summertime. Obviously with everything that's going on in the world of golf, he just said having my voice in there in some way could just add a layer of context that wasn't there already.”

Though his participation wasn’t as extensive as others, Scheffler said he’s seen his episode already and was rather pleased with how it turned out.

“I wouldn't say I was a huge part of it,” Scheffler said. “I didn't give them as much access into my personal life as a lot of guys did, but it was a good experience, and I think that was what — when I originally signed up for it, I don't really think they wanted very much from me, and all of a sudden I started winning tournaments and stuff and they were like, we need a lot more stuff now. It was kind of a tough balance, but it was a lot of fun.

“I think it's going to be great for the game. I think it's going to get a whole new audience watching golf, and it should be great for our Tour and good for the game of golf, as well.”