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:
— NUCLR GOLF (@NUCLRGOLF) February 10, 2024
One fan decided to take an up-close look at a bunker:
Certain golf clubs, other than TPC Scottsdale, would make this lad and his entire extended family disappear pic.twitter.com/LWSd8UGig7
— Jay Busbee (@jaybusbee) February 10, 2024
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 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."
— NUCLR GOLF (@NUCLRGOLF) February 11, 2024
Billy Horschel, who had been throwing footballs with fans on the celebrated 16th hole on Saturday, lost his temper 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:
Incredible sequence just now with Spieth on 18.
Dropped the club just after impact and pointed into the crowd at somebody who yelled in his backswing. Ball ends up pin high, 15 feet away for birdie. Camera cuts back to him saying, "What the f***?" at the gallery. pic.twitter.com/oyfQ2KNsp8
— Kyle Porter (@KylePorterCBS) February 11, 2024
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.
Nick Taylor beats Charley Hoffman in a playoff
The tournament took all day on Sunday, and went well into the start of the Super Bowl. In the end, it was Nick Taylor who came out on top. Taylor beat Charley Hoffman in a two-hole playoff to claim the WM Phoenix Open title on Sunday night. It marks Taylor’s fourth career win on Tour.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 12, 2024
The tournament had to finish the third round on Sunday morning due to weather earlier in the week, which set things back despite every effort to wrap up the event before the Super Bowl got going.
Hoffman took a big lead late, but Taylor came storming back with three birdies in his last four holes to force the playoff. The two then each made birdie on the opening playoff hole to extend it. Taylor then sank an 11.5-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to claim the win — which marked his fifth birdie in six holes.
In total, Taylor had to play 32 holes on Sunday. He was only through six holes in his third round when it was called on Saturday.
Taylor has now won twice in the last two years, following his win at the RBC Canadian Open. That win made him the first Canadian to win at the Tour’s only stop in the country since 1954. Sam Burns and Scottie Scheffler finished in a tie for third at 18-under on the week, three shots back of Taylor and Hoffman. Sahith Theegala was alone in fifth at 17-under.
The Tour will head to Riviera Country Club next week for the Genesis Invitational, which is the final stop on its West Coast swing to open the 2024 season.