Byeong Hun An summed up the scenes at this weekend’s Waste Management Phoenix Open as ‘totally out of control on every hole’.
Dubbed ‘The People’s Open’ the event is renowned for having one of the best atmospheres on the PGA Tour. But An is right, this weekend’s event was marred by a select few spectators taking things too far.
Chaos descended around the tournament grounds among spectators. Fans were seen invading the playing areas, doing snow angels in bunkers and sliding down muddy hills with their tops off.
One spectator was reportedly taken to hospital on Friday after falling from the grandstand at the famous 16th hole – their injuries are reported to be non-life threatening.
Others were detained by police while a few were even spoken to by players for heckling them as they played their shots.
The WM Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale is renowned for it’s raucous atmosphere and lively 16th hole
Byeong Hun An gave his thoughts on the events on X, writing: ‘Totally out of control’
Spectators were seen around the tournament grounds sliding in the mud and even jumping into bunkers
That was perhaps the most disappointing sight. US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson was seen in a clip fuming at patrons while on the course. While it’s not clear why the American became so enraged, he was heard saying: ‘I’m just sick of this. Just shut up!’
Billy Horschel was also seen venting to fans after they had shouted while his playing partner Nicolo Galletti was at the top of his swing. Horschel said to fans who stood along the ropes: ‘Buddy, when he’s over his shot, shut the hell up! We’re trying to hit a damn golf shot here, it’s our f****ing job!’
You can’t help but feel sorry for these guys. No player should have to tell a supporter to stop heckling at them.
As Horshel puts it, they’re just trying to play golf and while many players thrive on the atmosphere around TPC Scottsdale, some spectators took things too far.
Tournament organisers were also forced to stop alcohol sales and also closed the gates to the grounds on Saturday, with more fans arriving at the event after weather delays had postponed play earlier in the week.
Billy Horschel was seen confronting spectators who had shouted as his playing partner took his shot
Tournament organisers were forced to close gates into the tournament grounds on Saturday due to overcrowding
Some of the spectators were caught on video fighting at the event over the weekend
Jordan Spieth, meanwhile, recounted trying to get into the grounds, stating: ‘When I went home and when I came back, I couldn’t come the same direction. [A police officer] said, ‘we’re over capacity. It’s hazardous, so we’ve got to go through a different entry.’ Once he said that, I thought maybe we were in a little bit of trouble this afternoon.’
Admittedly it is hard to control the behaviour of those few individuals but next year the event will perhaps need to take a firmer stance on the behaviour. Adding a greater security presence and perhaps being stricter on alcohol sales could help to change that.
While I’m all for fans enjoying the atmosphere at the event, if measures aren’t taken, the tournament could run the risk of some of the tour’s best players potentially opting not to play at the event.
A police officer watches fans on the 16th green during Saturday’s action at the Phoenix Open
Alcohol sales were halted and fans were turned away after organisers closed the gates to the event
A grand stand finish for Nick Taylor
Away from things going on behind the ropes, Nick Taylor had a weekend to remember, claiming his fourth win on the PGA Tour, after beating Charley Hoffman in a two-hole play-off.
A late surge saw the 35-year-old birdie three of his last four holes, to put himself into contention at -21, before the Canadian went toe-to-toe against Hoffman. After winning on home soil last year at the RBC Canadian Open and coming second to Scottie Scheffler at the 2023 Phoenix Open, Taylor admitted that he relishes playing in the big moments.
‘Yeah, I’m getting there,’ he told reporters. ‘I think last year was a huge steppingstone in my career to play with Rahm and Scottie in the final group, one, two in the world and really stand my own and gave me a lot of confidence, so to ride that the rest of the year and win my national Open in the fashion that I did was incredible.
‘It’s been fun to be in those moments. I think last year I drew a lot on for the Canadian Open and I’ve drawn on that for plenty of moments, as well. For whatever reason it is, the later it gets, I just seem to get a little more locked in and zoned in and kind of relish those moments, and it’s been a lot of fun.’
The 35-year-old is one player to certainly keep an eye on this year.
Nick Taylor claimed victory at the Phoenix Open this weekend, his fourth win on the PGA Tour
LIV Golfer Carlos Ortiz has also spoken out on the rankings points debate claiming he was told players on the breakaway tour were told they would be given OWGR points
Ortiz speaks out on OWGR debate
Dustin Johnson was another player who found himself in the winner’s circle this weekend, after claiming victory at LIV Golf Las Vegas – his third win on the Saudi-backed breakaway league since joining.
The 2020 Masters champion walked away with an eye-watering £3.17million ($4m) prize. He currently sits at 231 in the Official World Golf rankings, but that’s a controversial subject among many LIV players, with Carlos Ortiz being the latest to speak out on the debate.
The Mexican claimed that he and other players on the Saudi-backed tour had previously been told they’d receive ranking points.
‘They definitely said that we were going to get them,’ Ortiz said. ‘We haven’t got them. I just feel that, people have to recognise that there are good players here, and if you want to have a ranking that includes all the golf players, you have to have some [LIV] people included in that ranking.’