This Week in Golf -- Jan. 31 through Feb. 3

PGA TOUR - WASTE MANAGEMENT PHOENIX OPEN, TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, Arizona - The PGA Tour heads to Phoenix this week for the annual party in the desert.

The rowdiest hole in golf, the par-3 16th at the TPC Scottsdale, awaits the field this week. Fans on the hole will serenade players with chants about their alma maters, their pets names, you name it.

The players soak it all in and return the favor to the crowd by doing things like tossing candy to the fans, wearing football jerseys of their favorite players for that hole, or even tossing out free swag.

In 2006, the crowd topped 536,000 for the week, which was a tournament record. Daily attendance figures will hover around 100,000 with Friday and Saturday normally having the largest crowds.

The throngs were treated to a big comeback last year. Kyle Stanley blew an 8- stroke lead the week before at Torrey Pines, then erased an 8-shot deficit in the final round in Phoenix to earn his first PGA Tour title.

The week prior, Stanley's third shot at the closing par-5 18th spun off the green and into a pond. That led to a triple-bogey, which dropped him into a playoff, where he lost to Brandt Snedeker.

Last year on Super Bowl Sunday, Stanley fired a 6-under 65 to come from eight back to beat Ben Crane by one. Spencer Levin, who led by six at the start of the final round, stumbled to a 4-over 75, which dropped him into third place.

Levin lost out on his first PGA Tour title and he's now on the shelf recovering from a thumb injury.

Among those trying to grab the title from Stanley this week are two-time champ J.B. Holmes, Martin Kaymer and Padraig Harrington, who are making their PGA Tour season debuts, and Russell Henley and Brian Gay, who have already won this year.

Golf Channel will have coverage all four days. Their coverage on Saturday and Sunday will be early, before they hand off to NBC for the first time this year.

The PGA Tour goes back to California next week for the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am. Phil Mickelson fired a 8-under 64 in the final round last year to win the title for the fourth time. Mickelson played alongside Tiger Woods, who stumbled to a 75 in the final round to end nine back.


OMEGA DUBAI DESERT CLASSIC, Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, United Arab Emirates - The European Tour wraps up its' desert swing this week in Dubai.

Spain's Rafael Cabrera-Bello closed with a 4-under 68 last year to earn his second European Tour title.

Cabrera-Bello trailed Lee Westwood by one entering the final round, but Westwood closed with a 70 to end one back. He shared second with Stephen Gallacher, who posted a 69 in the final round.

All three of those players are back in the field this week. It will be Westwood's season debut.

Major champions Ben Curtis, Todd Hamilton and Michael Campbell will also be at the Emirates Golf Club this week, as are the likes of Colin Montgomerie, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson as well as winners from this season Scott Jamieson, Jamie Donaldson and Chris Wood.

Golf Channel will have all four rounds.

The European Tour returns to South Africa next week with the Joburg Open. Branden Grace won for the first time last year when he closed 65-72 over the last two rounds. He went on to win three more times last year.