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Waste Management Phoenix Open limiting fans in 2021

PGA pro Troy Merritt hits a tee shot on No. 16 during Round 1 of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is still planning to host fans in a limited fashion in 2021, especially on the iconic No. 16.

The WMPO announced Monday it plans to move forward with a one-level, open-air version of the famous par-3 for the 2021 tournament with coronavirus cases still on the rise in Arizona.

Construction for the par-3 setup began in late November.

“As we announced earlier this year, the footprint for the 2021 tournament will be entirely different due to COVID-19,” 2021 tournament chairman Scott Jenkins said in a press release. “But we always hoped to have some kind of presence at our iconic 16th hole with or even without our fans. After many discussions with the PGA TOUR and local health officials, we are moving forward with a plan to have limited spectators at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

“Ultimately, if the decision is made by local health officials to allow spectators, it will be a small fraction of the normal capacity at TPC Scottsdale and not any different from what many other professional sports are currently allowing across the country. The health and safety of fans is our top priority. … We will implement COVID safety protocols not only on the 16th hole, but also throughout the entire tournament grounds in order to mitigate risk for the players, volunteers and limited fans.”

The 192-acre layout of TPC Scottsdale and the outdoor nature of the tournament is conducive to social distancing, Jenkins added.

According to ESPN’s Bob Harig, the WMPO will be limited to up to 8,000 spectators per day. It’s a far cry from the 500,000 fans that are usually in attendance for the greenest show on turf.

“As we work with The Thunderbirds in receiving approval from local and state governments in regard to the number of ticketed spectators and guests at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, we remain committed to health and safety as the No. 1 priority,” PGA TOUR Chief of Operations Tyler Dennis said in a release.

“With that as a backdrop, we are examining a variety of options that will enable the tournament to continue its traditions as a one-of-a-kind fan experience while enriching the Greater Phoenix community through charitable giving.”

The 2021 WMPO runs from Feb. 1-7 and is the 86th playing of the event.

The Thunderbirds, who host the WMPO, raised a record $14 million for charity from the proceeds of the 2020 tournament.


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