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Phoenix Open turns off booze, shut gates as golf fans get too rowdy

Scottie Scheffler feels right at home amid the chaos.

The world’s No.1 ranked golfer has won the Phoenix Open the past two years and has a chance to accomplish something that hasn’t happened on the PGA Tour in 13 years at the tournament.

“It’s a little bit different than a lot of the tournaments that we play,” Scheffler said before the tournament. “That provides some fun stuff but some challenges, as well, with the noise and all that. It’s definitely, definitely a lot of fun playing in this event.”

A fan dressed in costume as William Wallace from Braveheart, is apprehended by a police officer after running on the 11th hole.

A fan dressed in costume as William Wallace from Braveheart, is apprehended by a police officer after running on the 11th hole.Credit: Getty

A year ago, the Phoenix Open had elevated status and a $20 million purse – $3.6 million to the winner. A reshuffling of what are now called signature events bumped the Phoenix Open out of the top tier in favour of AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and dropped the purse to $8.8 million.

The Phoenix Open was a signature event long before the designation was put in place.

‘They’ve done a great job of trying to control the chaos.’

Justin Thomas on the Phoenix Open

Since Tiger Woods’ roar-inducing, fist-pumping hole-in-one on No.16 in 1997, the Phoenix Open has grown into a must-stop for players who can handle the heat (from the fans, not the desert).

The tournament draws record crowds – more than 700,000 in a week – and the din from the booze-infused 16th hole is more like an NBA playoff game, more than 20,000 people wildly cheering good shots, booing even mediocre ones.

“It’s great here and they’ve done a great job of trying to control the chaos as much as they can,” said Justin Thomas, who had four top-10 finishes in Phoenix the past five years.

This year’s tournament has another strong field, even after Viktor Hovland and Xander Schauffele withdrew on Monday. Fan favorites Max Homa, Matt Fitzpatrick, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler will tee it up in Scottsdale this week, as will Wyndham Clark, the winner last week at Pebble Beach.

Doug Ghim of the United States tosses his ball to fans on the 16th green.

Doug Ghim of the United States tosses his ball to fans on the 16th green.Credit: Getty

Clark soared up the leaderboard with a course-record 60 in Saturday’s third round and was declared the 54-hole winner when hurricane-force winds and pelting rain washed out Sunday’s final round.

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Should he pull off a three-peat at TPC Scottsdale, Scheffler will become the first player to win the same tournament three straight years since Steve Stricker at the John Deere Classic from 2009-2011. “I think this is one of the tournaments you always paid attention to, just because of the way No. 16 is — that’s really kind of what everybody thinks about when it comes to this tournament,” Scheffler said. “But the golf course is actually really good, as well.”

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