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Overcrowding causes chaotic WM Phoenix Open to shut the gates

Overcrowding causes chaotic WM Phoenix Open to shut the gates

Too many fans meant the doors to TPC Scottsdale were shut as beer sales were also stopped to quell the chaos…

 

Carnage. Chaos. Mayhem.

All of these words could describe the scenes of the WM Phoenix Open’s third day.

The gates to the event at TPC Scottsdale were shut in the afternoon as there were too many people at the tournament.

“Due to larger than usual crowds, the WM Phoenix Open entrance gates are temporarily closed and shuttle service to the event is on hold,” the tournament said in a statement.

“Shuttle service back to the parking lots will remain running. Regularly check our channels for updates.”

This announcement came just before the weather-delayed second round on Saturday was finished.

Claire Rogers of Golf.com reported a usual 12-minute walk from the practice area to the infamous 16th tee took 45 minutes due to the “packed” crowds.

Before the event, tournament chairman George Thimsen announced that general admission tickets for Friday and Saturday had sold out.

“Creating an exceptional fan experience is our top priority at the WM Phoenix Open and our dedication to elevating the quality of the fan journey guides every decision,” Thimsen said.

“In pursuit of ensuring a great fan-first experience for our community, we have strategically chosen to put a cap on attendance for Friday and Saturday. Our community is what makes ‘The People’s Open’ so special and a high-demand event. With this demand, we are prioritising the right atmosphere for our guests.”

It was also widely reported that alcohol sales at ‘the People’s Open’ stopped, as footage emerged of fans mud-sliding and even fighting.

Several videos on X, formerly named Twitter, showed one topless fan storming the 16th hole and jumping into a greenside bunker.

Fan behaviour at the Arizona-based event has frequently been questioned in recent years.

In 2022, beer cups rained down on the 16th green as Joel Dahmen and Harry Higgs removed their tops to stoke up the patrons surrounding the Stadium Hole.

Canadian Nick Taylor held a one-shot lead over Sahith Theegala through six holes of day three when play was done.

What did the players say about the WM Phoenix Open crowd?

Jordan Spieth, who trailed Taylor by three shots after Saturday’s action, described his experience with the crowds, having also caught wind of the halted beer sales.

“It was Saturday at the Phoenix Open,” Spieth said. “I think I had heard – when I went home and when I came back, I couldn’t come the same direction. The police officers had blocked it off, so I drove up and I said, how am I supposed to get back to the course?

“He said, we’re over capacity. It’s hazardous, so we’ve got to go through a different – once he said that, I thought maybe we were in a little bit of trouble this afternoon, but we were on the front nine so it was a little less rowdy, and I heard they stopped alcohol sales.”

Theegala saw the brighter side of the scenes in the desert as he pursued his second win on the PGA Tour.

“It was pretty epic. A lot of – just hearing the cheers is pretty epic. A bunch of guys with my name and my face on shirts out there. The officer was telling me people got too drunk.

“But it was all in good fun, and hopefully everyone stayed safe. It’s a blast. It’s a blast. There’s definitely some people that aren’t the best drunks, but for the most part, it’s all positive, and it’s a fun atmosphere.”

Taylor added his account of the events that saw the WM Phoenix Open close the doors to fans for the first time in its history.

“People are falling everywhere, and people are probably enjoying it more than others. I heard they closed the gates at whatever time, so that shows how many people were here. It’s pretty cool.”

NOW READ: How much? Here’s the WM Phoenix Open prize money

NOW READ: Tick tock! PGA Tour star out of WM Phoenix Open after missing tee time

Are the WM Phoenix Open fans too much? What did you make of the Saturday scenes? Tell us on X/Twitter!

Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spent time with some of the biggest names in the sport.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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