January 31, 2012
Phoenix Open is party central
By JON MCCARTHY, QMI Agency
Drunk fans, deafening boos, Green Bay Packers’ cheeseheads, a player giving fans the finger — must be a football game, you say?
Wrong. It’s golf at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
The PGA’s biggest party hits TPC Scottsdale this week and if you are going to put your tournament up against the Super Bowl, you better go balls (golf balls, that is) out.
The Phoenix Open is always the best attended tournament on the PGA schedule, routinely drawing more than 500,000 fans over the week. Many students from nearby Arizona State University make their way to the event. The one-day attendance record was set during the Saturday round in 2008 when 170,802 fans whooped it up.
Party central is the par-3 16th hole which ends up looking more like a baseball stadium than a golf hole once the bleachers are in place. The amphitheatre-like seating at the 16th can hold upwards of 20,000 over-refreshed fans.
Stick an iron shot tight to the pin here and you are showered with love. Mishit your shot at this straightforward par-3 and you are showered with, well ... God-knows-what.
The most memorable moments from this signature hole include Tiger Woods’ ace, Justin Leonard’s bird and Mark Wilson’s cheese.
In 1997, Tiger made a hole-in-one and while walking toward the green he raised the roof (back when people still did that) while the frenzied crowd tossed their beer cups in the air. It was Mardi Gras meets ticker-tape parade.
Justin Leonard once managed to turn 20,000 boos into cheers after missing the green. How did he do it? By flipping the bird at the crowd! Go figure.
Last year, Wisconsin-native Mark Wilson showed some love for his hometown team on Super Bowl Sunday. The Green Bay Packers fan and his caddie donned a cheesehead for their walk to the 16th green. It must have been good luck because Wilson and his Packers took home a trophy that day.
If you like watching golf but are tired of the lack of personality from players or the melodramatic hushed tones of commentators, then this week’s tournament is for you.
In fact, hop on a plane to Phoenix and party like it’s the Super Bowl for a fraction of the price.
FEEL THE LOVE PHIL
No player is more beloved at the Phoenix Open than Arizona State grad Phil Mickelson and right now he could use some love.
Dealing with a serious form of arthritis and off to a brutal start to the season, Mickelson was dealt another blow last week when his 10-year-old daughter, Sophia, suffered a seizure at school.
Mickelson’s wife Amy revealed the incident to the San Diego Union-Tribune during last week’s Farmer’s Insurance Open. The good news is Sophia was able to return to school the following day.
Putting a little more on the Lefty’s plate, according to Market Watch, Mickelson is selling his 9,500 sq./ft. estate in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. If you’re shopping for a place with two guest houses, a pool, a putting green and giant trophy case call Susan Bartow of Surterre Properties. The asking price is $7,095,000.
CRUISIN’ TO PHOENIX
Last week we reported that Bubba Watson had bought one the original General Lee’s from the TV show Dukes of Hazzard, well, this week he rolled into Phoenix for the Waste Management Open driving his sweet new ride. Still no word whether the doors open or if he has to climb in through the window like Bo and Luke.
Watson was again nice enough to post a pic for us on his Twitter account.
FEEL BAD ABOUT YOUR GAME
The insult ‘You hit like a 14-year-old girl’ is no longer valid.
Last weekend amateur Lydia Ko became, at age 14, the youngest ever winner of a professional tour event with her four-shot victory at the 54-hole New South Wales Open.
Ko was born in South Korea but moved to New Zealand when she was six years old. She is the top-ranked women’s amateur player in the world.
She was born in 1997. Feel old yet?
ROCK IN A HARD PLACE
As if it wasn’t bad enough for Tiger that former driving range pro Robert Rock out-dueled him on Sunday in Abu Dhabi at the HSBC Golf Championship, there was some unintended smack-talk directed at the former World No. 1.
Rock explained in the post-round interview that he was getting ready to tee off on the 10th hole when he was distracted by some marshals moving behind him and shot them a dirty look. Moments later, just as Rock was preparing to hit his tee shot he heard what he thought was the same guys moving again, so he shouted, “Stand still, please!”
Turns out it was Tiger walking behind the tee.
“He just laughed and he was fine,” Rock said. “I shouldn’t have done that.”
Rock offered another gem during interviews in Abu Dhabi. Asked what he was best known for on the European Tour before this weekend, he answered, “Not much.”
Well those days are done, Rocky.