Viktor Hovland, Xander Schauffele out of WM Phoenix Open

League: Golf

Posted on: 05 Feb, 2024 at 08:46 PM

Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

"The Greatest Show on Grass" will be minus two of the greatest current players in the world.

Viktor Hovland withdrew from the WM Phoenix Open on Monday following a T58 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, beating only 14 players in the limited field event. The fourth-ranked player in the world opened with a 69 last Thursday, but then struggled to consecutive 72s before the tournament was shortened to 54 holes due to weather.

It was Hovland's first start since opening 2024 with a T22 at The Sentry, the season's first signature event that also featured a limited field.

Hovland was followed a few hours later by fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele, who is coming off a T-54 at Pebble Beach. That was his first finish outside the top-10 in four starts this year.

Hovland's withdrawal from the Phoenix Open created a spot for Victor Perez, with Alexander Bjork also getting into the field after Schauffele pulling out. World No. 54 Thorbjorn Oleson also withdrew and was replaced by Jorge Campillo. Sami Valimaki is now the first alternate.

The tournament begins Thursday at TPC Scottsdale and still includes an elite field that is led by two-time defending champion and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. He is scheduled to be joined by No. 6 Wyndham Clark, No. 8 Max Homa, No. 9 Matt Fitzpatrick and No. 10 Brian Harman.

Other marquee names in the field include Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Sam Burns and Rickie Fowler, along with former major champions Hideki Matsuyama and Adam Scott.

Hovland's withdrawal naturally sparked embers on simmering rumors of a potential move to LIV Golf. Tyrrell Hatton pulled out ahead of Pebble Beach before joining Jon Rahm's team that went on to win LIV's first event of the season in Mexico on Sunday.

The Norwegian has repeatedly denied a potential move to LIV, saying as recently as December that he doubted that would be a future consideration despite also criticizing the PGA Tour's leadership.

"I don't think their product is that great. I'm not such a fan of, for example, playing without a cut," Hovland said in Norwegian as translated by Eurosport Norway during an appearance on the "Fore" podcast. "You need the competition with 150 players and a cut. If you don't play well enough, you're out. There is something about it that makes your game a little sharper. If I had gone to LIV, I don't think I would have become a better golfer. And then it is, in a way, end of discussion."

Hovland has committed to the third signature event of the year at the Genesis Invitational at Riviera next week.

--Field Level Media