For years, the WM Phoenix Open has been a must-see destination for fans and a smiley stop for pros, a place where the normally sedate sport of golf transforms into a college football tailgate for a weekend. Everyone knows it will be a loud, chaotic and unruly party.
But this year, the party seems to have freed itself from any confinement, and quite a few pros are not participating.
Saturday is traditionally the craziest day of the tournament, and this year it stayed true to form. The tournament suspended alcohol sales and closed the doors to newcomers, and one look at Saturday’s scenes will give you a good idea of why:
A fan decided to take a closer look at a bunker:
It followed a Friday in which a fan was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after falling from a stand.
The players gritted their teeth and dealt with the noisy crowd as best they could, usually with a mixture of good humor and resignation.
“It’s great. It’s awesome. There are definitely some people who 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 have to block some of it out at times. That’s for sure.”
But on Sunday, the crowd seemed to rise to another level, and this time, the calls dug deep under the players’ skin. Former Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson lectured the crowd along one hole: “I’m just sick of it,” he said, obviously referring to someone’s yapping A. “Just shut up.”
Billy Horschel, who threw footballs with the fans on Saturday on the famous 16th hole, became angry on Sunday as the fans yapped under the swing of his playing partner Nicolo Galletti (language advice):
Jordan Spieth, who is in the running, had his own issues with the gallery, but the tweet didn’t affect at least one of his photos:
Incredible sequence just now with Spieth on 18.
He dropped the club right after impact and pointed to someone in the crowd who screamed during his backswing. The ball ends up high, 15 feet away for a birdie. The camera cuts back to him saying, “What the fuck?” 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’s slate, but it’s likely that players will have their own voice in determining how the event plays out in the future.
Nick Taylor defeats Charley Hoffman in playoffs
The tournament lasted all day Sunday and ran until the start of the Super Bowl. In the end, it was Nick Taylor who won. Taylor defeated Charley Hoffman in a two-hole playoff to win the WM Phoenix Open title Sunday night. This is Taylor’s fourth career Tour victory.
The tournament had to complete the third round on Sunday morning due to weather conditions earlier in the week, which delayed things despite best efforts to wrap up the event before the start of the Super Bowl.
Hoffman took a big lead late, but Taylor came back strong with three birdies on his final four holes to force a playoff. The two then each birdied the first playoff hole to extend it. Taylor then sank an 11.5-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to earn the victory – which marked his fifth birdie in six holes.
In total, Taylor had to play 32 holes on Sunday. He had completed just six holes in his third round when it was announced Saturday.
Taylor has now won twice in the last two years, following his victory at the RBC Canadian Open. This victory. Sam Burns and Scottie Scheffler finished tied for third at 18 under for the week, three shots behind Taylor and Hoffman. Sahith Theegala was alone in fifth at 17 under.
The Tour heads 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.