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The Fore: Things that make the WMPO the craziest week of golf

Branden Grace hits from the 16th tee during the second round of the Phoenix Open PGA golf tournament, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Golf; a game of patience and discipline.

Usually.

But one week out of the year, the PGA unleashes its wild side with the nonstop party that is the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

This year’s tournament has been no different as golfers and fans alike flocked to TPC Scottsdale to soak up the festivities.

And, of course, the golf.

But what exactly makes the WMPO what it is?

Let’s head to the tee box.

THE ATMOSPHERE

Is it a golf tournament or a giant fiesta?

While golf is being played by some of the best golfers in the world, the off-the-course amenities rival the game with so many things to do and see.

With areas like Greenskeeper, the Bay Club and the infamous No. 16, it’s likely to forget you’re even at a golf tournament.

And each year, the stadium around the course continues to grow as more and more people make it a priority to catch at least a day of the tournament.

And as the crowds grow, so does the level of excitement.

For some out on the course, the WMPO represents a cross between the Super Bowl and the Masters.

Even for the players.

“I don’t know how you prepare for it,” Bubba Watson said after his round on Friday. “You get so pumped up, you get so amped up that you’ve got to learn to dial it back somehow.

“You feel like a football player in the Super Bowl. You want to go hit somebody because you get so amped up.”

I’d be jacked up too playing in this kind of environment, especially with a shot like this.

THE PEOPLE

If people watching is your thing, look no further than the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

More than 719,000 people attended last year’s tournament, event organizers estimated.

While the week’s centered around golf in the desert, don’t be surprised to see fans from all over repping their true colors.

From a drove of Team Canada hockey sweaters to the Steve Nash Canada uniform to an Atlanta Falcons Roddy White jersey, tournament goers brought out all the stops.

Doug’s bachelor party even made an appearance.

While the attire is usually par for the course, there is some that would rather not be seen.

“Probably the guy that just got kicked out wearing the American flag speedo,” a police officer told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup when asked what the craziest thing he had seen people wear so far on Friday.

At least he had some type of clothing on.

Remember the streaker who stole the spotlight last year?

You never know what you’re going to come across at the “People’s Open.”

THE ACCESS

There’s not a lot of tournaments — and places in general — where you can interact with golfers and celebrities like you can at the WMPO.

From the pro-ams over the course of the week to the actual tournament itself, names from around the Valley and the country come out to the golf track.

Unlike other tournaments where phones are restricted and there are strict rules to abide to, the Waste Management Phoenix Open brings with it the complete opposite.

While the intensity of the crowd and magnitude of the event takes over the week, there are a number of things for fans to see.

Such as awesome moments like this.

The charity work the tournament provides for local groups is also a huge plus for the area.

Last year alone, the tournament contributed to a record-breaking $12.2 million raised for Arizona charities. It also brought in $389 million to Arizona’s economy in 2017, the W.P. Carey School of Business study found.

So, while the focus of the week is on the craziness of the tournament and the amount of people who attend, there’s clearly more than just golf — and drinking — being done.

NO. 16

You can’t talk Phoenix Open without bringing up the 16th hole, and rightfully so.

Talk about loud.

Even the race to get to the hole is intense.

If the morning jog doesn’t suit you, be prepared to wait.

The stadium hole has grown as the years have passed and it shows.

When the tournament is in town, it transforms the ho-hum 163-yard par 3, the shortest hole on the Stadium Course, into a beast.

For the players, it’s almost like walking into the ancient Coliseum as 20,000 spectators cram in to see the action.

“It’s lived up to everything, let me tell you that much,” Branden Grace said after his round on Friday. “There is nothing like the 16th here. There’s no event that gets close.

“Even the majors, obviously there’s big hype … but I think it’s been awesome.”

But don’t think for a second anyone’s safe from the dreaded boos.

No home-field advantage here.


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