SCOTTSDALE – It’s been 58 years since a competitor has won the Arizona Open Championship in consecutive years. Brian Cooper has the opportunity to not only accomplish that feat but become the first competitor to win the Arizona Senior Open Championship and Arizona Open in the same year. He makes his attempt at history August 17-19 at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale in the 74th edition of the Arizona Open Championship.
“Although I’m the defending champion in both the Arizona Open and Senior Open, winning them both in same calendar year would be pretty amazing,” said Cooper. “To possibly win back-to-back Arizona Open titles would obviously be a pretty rare feat and something that would rank just as high as simultaneously holding both titles.”
Cooper, 50, from Phoenix, Ariz., captured the title last year by defeating 2013 champion Craig Hocknull on the first hole of a sudden-death playoff after both competitors finished the 54-hole championship with a total of 202 (-8) at Troon C.C. Cooper made birdie on No. 1 to Hocknull’s par and earned the title and $8,000 for the victory, his first Arizona Open title. His quest for a repeat begins on Thursday, August 17 at 12:25 p.m. off the 10th tee.
“Winning the Arizona Open last meant so much to my career and being able to defend is something that is equally as special,” Cooper said. “You only get to defend when you’re fortunate enough to win in the first place.”
In May, Cooper won the Arizona Senior Open Championship held at Wickenburg (Ariz.) Ranch Golf & Social Club. His 36-hole total of 132 (-10) was one stroke better than a pair of competitors. The victory was sealed after Cooper rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th, the final hole of the Championship.
If Cooper is to repeat, he will do so against one of the strongest fields ever assembled in the Arizona Open. The 2017 starting field will be comprised of 156 participants including 40 top amateurs and seven past champions that include: Cooper (2016), R.J. Wood (2015), Chris Satterlee (2014), Hocknull (2013), Braxton Marquez (2011), Steve Schneiter (2004) and R.W. Eaks (1990).
Hocknull, 42, PGA Director of Instruction at Outback Golf Academy, returns after his runner-up finish in 2016. He is coming off a victory last week in the Southwest PGA Professional Championship after finishing with a 54-hole total of 201 (-15) at the Gallery Golf Club in Marana, Ariz. Earlier this season he finished tied for 3rd in the Southwest PGA Match Play Championship following a loss in the semi-finals to eventual champion Michael Hopper.
Last month Hopper, 33, PGA assistant golf professional at Lookout Mountain G.C., won his second consecutive Southwest PGA Match Play title and third overall. He defeated Marty Jertson 1-up in the final match at Desert Forest Golf Club in Carefree, Ariz., and enters the Arizona Open coming off an 8th place finish in the Southwest PGA Professional Championship.
Notable competitors include: PGA Professionals Jertson, Dennis Downs, Chris Dompier, Matt VanCleave, D.K. Kim, and Scott Frisch; amateurs Ken Tanigawa, Eric Gagne, Kyle Hudelson and Bryan Hoops; and non-PGA professionals Joe Affrunti, Robin Byrd, Tom Purtzer, Trent Sanders and Alex Chiarella.
The first and second rounds will be held Thursday and Friday, August 17 and 18, respectively, at 7:00 a.m. off Nos. 1 and 10. Following 36 holes of play, the field will be cut to the low 60 scorers plus ties for the final round on Saturday, August 19.
Isagenix, TrueTemper and Troon Country Club are presenting sponsors of the 74th Arizona Open Championship. Supporting sponsors include Precise Yardage Books, Experience Scottsdale and VSP Merchant.