At the WM Phoenix Open, Coaching Tips & a Memorable Four Days for Jesse Mueller, PGA

By Abby Parsons, PGA
Published on

Jesse Mueller, PGA

As a local PGA of America Member in Scottsdale, Arizona, WM Phoenix Open week is always highlighted on our calendars.
Golf courses all over the Phoenix/Scottsdale area have their tee sheets booked from sun-up to sun-down, and TPC Scottsdale sees hundreds of thousands of spectators on their grounds.
Luckily, I was able to break away from my golf club to see some action on Saturday, and I witnessed some great shots through the sea of golf fans.

The morning consisted of the WM Phoenix Open field finishing up their second round, and I was closely following one player seeking to make the cut: fellow PGA of America Member Jesse Mueller.
The Southwest PGA Section Instagram had several stories posted throughout Mueller’s second round on Friday as he climbed up the leaderboard. A PGA of America Golf Professional had not made the cut at the WM Phoenix Open in almost 20 years, and Jesse Mueller had his eyes on history.
Mueller, the 2022 PGA Professional Champion, is the PGA General Manager at the Grand Canyon University Golf Course in Phoenix, and has quite the playing resume. The WM Phoenix Open was his 14th PGA TOUR career start while only having made two cuts prior to this tournament.
After two impressive rounds of even par and three-under, Jesse made the cut, becoming the first Southwest PGA Section Member to do so since 2005. Mueller would ultimately finish tied for 66th after weekend rounds of 73-71, but not before he gave the crowd at the infamous No. 16 something to cheer about.
What can we learn from the world's best?
It was incredible to see the type of golf Mueller and others were playing in conditions that were not anticipated in “sunny Scottsdale.” The weather was cold, wet and the golf course was over its maximum spectator capacity.

Many of the players harnessed the atmosphere of TPC Scottsdale, telling fans to bring up the volume while they were teeing off or walking to the green. The energy was electric, and the golfers used it to their advantage. Instead of seeing the noise as a distraction, they saw it as motivation and a test of their ability to block out the noise and focus on the shot in front of them.

That's something you learn from: Don't get distracted by outcomes or what-ifs. Instead, lock in on the shot in front of you.

The wet conditions also brought quite the challenge to the golfers (and spectators, I might add). Lift, clean and place is a huge advantage when playing on damp grass. Whenever you find yourself in a tournament that allows lift, clean and place . . . be sure to never skip that step.
It's easy to walk up to the ball and think that it looks fine and does not need a wipe down, but just know that this is not always the case. Do yourself a favor and always clean off the golf ball. There are several times you have no idea what the bottom of the ball looks like until it hits the clubface.
Daniel Berger in the mud on the par-5 third hole.
Daniel Berger in the mud on the par-5 third hole.
I saw Daniel Berger hit a shot out of the mud on No. 3, the par 5, and it was quite the show. He put on all of his rain gear, took off his hat, right shoe, and sock, and made his way into the mud. He had a short pitch shot for his eagle attempt, but the mud got the best of him in the first attempt. Once he took a swing and the ball did not move, he changed clubs and went with a flop-like shot onto the green.
It's a great learning lesson, as it's not always easy to clip the ball out of the mud. Sometimes it is better to use the fundamentals of a bunker shot to get the ball in the air.
Visualize your putts getting close
I lingered around the green on the third hole for a while, and saw Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas have difficult eagle putts. The one thing they all had in common was the fact that they all made birdie, and made it with a tap-in.
Justin Thomas tries a long putt.
Justin Thomas tries a long putt.
Remember this: Not all putts are meant to be made. If you find yourself with a long, twisty putt, visualize a hula hoop around the hole, and try to knock the ball into that circle. From there you have an easy putt to finish the hole. Being too aggressive does not always pay off, especially with greens that are fast.

Even with the noise, the conditions, and the delays, there was still incredible golf played at the WM Phoenix Open from Jesse Mueller, PGA, making the cut to Nick Taylor's playoff win. Remember: If you get the chance to experience this tournament one day, be sure to check the weather before you assume “sunny Scottsdale!”