For years, the WM Phoenix Open was a bucket-list destination for fans and a grin-and-bear-it stop for pros, a place where the normally staid sport of golf turns into a college football tailgate for a weekend. Everybody knows going in that it's going to be a loud, chaotic, unruly party. But this year, the party appears to have broken loose from any kind of containment, and quite a few pros aren't having it.
Saturday is traditionally the wildest day at the tournament, and this year held true to form. The tournament suspended alcohol sales and closed the gates to new arrivals, and a look at the scenes from Saturday will give you a good idea as to why:
One fan decided to take an up-close look at a bunker:
That followed a Friday in which a fan was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after falling from a grandstand.
Players have gritted their teeth and dealt with the rowdy crowds as best they can, generally with a combination of good humor and resignation. "It's a blast. It's a blast. There's definitely some people that aren't the best drunks, but for the most part it's all positive, and it's a fun atmosphere," Sahith Theegala said Saturday. "You do have to block some of it out at certain times. That's for sure."
But on Sunday, the crowd seemed to ratchet up another level, and this time, the calls burrowed deep under the skins of the players. Former Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson lectured a crowd along one hole: "I'm just sick of it," he said, obviously referring to someone's yelping. "Just shut up."
Billy Horschel, who had been throwing footballs with fans on the celebrated 16th hole on Saturday, lost his temper on Sunday as fans yapped through the swing of playing partner Nicolo Galletti (language advisory):
Jordan Spieth, who is in contention, had his own issues with the gallery, but the chirping didn't affect at least one of his shots:
The WM Phoenix Open remains one of the most notable events on the PGA Tour slate, but it's likely players are going to have a loud voice of their own in determining how the event plays out going forward.