GOLF

Sixteen stories from the Waste Management Phoenix Open’s 16th hole

Feb 3, 2017, 2:21 PM | Updated: 4:43 pm
Photo: Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports...
Photo: Kevin Zimmerman/Arizona Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — You can’t get this anywhere else.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open may occur in a city known as a golf capital, yet traditional golf fans rub elbows with college students who take the event as seriously as a spring break trip to Cabo. The latter just get more of the publicity because, well, they’re louder.

I’m not here to tell anyone how to live their life. I’m here to inform you to know whether this is the party for you. And if you like parties — or golf, I forgot about the golf — this is a must-attend event in the Valley.

Sitting at the rowdy house on the TPC Scottsdale’s 16th hole Friday, I took in the sights and sounds to help you get a handle of the golfing event straight out of “Happy Gilmore.”

1. “Rake that bunker!”

This bunker tender played to the crowd as well as any of the players I witnessed, getting into a “rake that bunker!” chant by pulling off a Queen’s Guard routine.

2. Punching holes

Arriving early allowed fans to watch the TPC Scottsdale grounds crew punch a hole in the green. Finding the bottom of this cup off the tee makes legends, and so the ceremony was taken quite seriously for the early-arriving patrons.

3. Um, no.

Around noon, one fan, who we are guessing is a fan of more traditional golf events, let out a high-pitched whistle before very seriously saying, “Sit down!” The 50-some people in front of him chuckled. They also didn’t listen.

4. Bubba Birdie

Bubba Watson did his best to play to the crowd. His tee shot got darn close to the hole. Armed with bags of swag, Watson gave goodies out to the crowd before putting for birdie and tossing the ball into the crowd.

5. What time is too early?

Overheard at 7:37 a.m.: “Where is the beer?” Also: “There should be an Uber for beer.” They are called vendors, who soon appeared to the delight of the folks who did not want to leave their seats.

6. Appropriate jersey for the occasion, Part I

Speaking of beer drinking, this jersey stood out among the diverse crowd: a Wade Boggs Boston Red Sox jersey. Boggs played for the Red Sox from 1982-92.

More than his career, which I’m sure was very great, Boggs is more well known for drinking 107 beers in a day — that’s a story he relayed to Charlie Day, the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator who wrote an entire episode where the characters attempted to emulate the former baseball player.

7. Semi-organized betting

At least two fellows posted up at the first row of the general admission bleachers and were operating what seemed to be a well thought-out betting operation.

One collected the money, while the other noted bets on an erasable whiteboard that included a table. While this reporter did not inquire as to whether the two were making a profit off their clever gambling system that drew a fair share of contributions — I didn’t want to lose my seat — it would seem the quick trip to Kinkos was well worth the organization.

8. Appropriate jersey for the occasion, Part II

Pete Rose actually played for the Montreal Expos … for 95 games in 1984.

Evidence of this came in the form of a fan at the Waste Management Open wearing a Montreal Expos Pete Rose jersey. Rose, if you didn’t know, has attempted to recover his reputation from a gambling scandal.

9. Why, Martin, why?

Overheard after Scotland’s Martin Laird’s tee shot landed in the rough: “Why would you do that?”

10. Willy’s whoops

American Willy Wilcox seemed to be a crowd favorite, if only because of his name (alliteration is great). The 30-year-old from Birmingham, Ala., encouraged the crowd to roar when it was his time to putt. Missing the 14-footer only made the crowd boo him endlessly when the ball rolled short of the cup by less than a foot.

11. Schooled at his craft

Yes, this is a bad pun.

Michael Schoolcraft had the worst day. At one point, he was dead last and six shots off the next-worst player at 14-over par through nearly two rounds. Said one fan of Schoolcraft when he hit the 16th hole earlier in the day: “So he can play with us?”

12. Key adjustment

Phil Mickelson started making his push into the top-10 after the 16th hole, and perhaps it came with a key equipment adjustment at said hole. The equipment: His shoe.

Mickelson kneeled to tie his golf shoe to the delight of the crowd.

“Great tie, Phil!” said one excited fan.

13. Where you from?

Golfing alongside fellow American Justin Thomas and Canadian Adam Hadwin, Mickelson’s grouping brought out too many chants.

There was “U.S.A.” trying to drown out “O Canada” and “A.S.U.” trying to drown out “U.S.A.” Speaking of which, there were at least two national anthems sung, plus “America the Beautiful.” Fans also belted the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” because of course.

14. Nice, bro

Overheard: “Why do you think I cover my arms? They’re not as nice looking as yours.” — Bearded guy to friend in bro tank

15. Take your time

Golf, a game of concentration and calm. Except for the 16th hole, when grumpy fans are tired of you eyeing a 33-yard putt from every angle even though you’re going to miss anyway. Talking to you, Patrick Reed.

“You’re just going to pull it anyway!” yelled one impatient onlooker.

16. Frat fight?

One group of men in highlighter yellow shirts used chanting as a form of bickering with another group of men wearing unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts. Highlighter yellow group left to this:

Penguin Air

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Sixteen stories from the Waste Management Phoenix Open’s 16th hole