The WM Phoenix Open made its own event history on Saturday after entrances were temporarily closed to spectators - the first time this ever happened.
Tournament organizers were forced into making the decision around 2pm on the third day's play - shortly before the players finished their second round at TPC Scottsdale's Stadium Course.
Both the PGA Tour competition itself and the spectacle for fans has been badly affected by an untimely bout of poor weather in the Arizona area this week, with players and supporters alike set for a marathon Sunday of action - hours before Super Bowl LVIII is due to take place in Las Vegas, which is set to draw a great deal of attention away from the golf.
Due to storms and frost causing delays to play throughout the week, the current leaders will play over 30 holes on Sunday in a bid to try and finish up on time. As for the fans, those same storms meant entrance gates were briefly unavailable on Saturday as grassy hillsides and walkways - which normally cater for around 200,000 fans a day - were out of action after turning into mini mud slides and on-foot logjams, respectively.
🚨🍺🚫 #DRY IN THE DESERT: ‘WE WANT BEER’ chants have broken out! — The fans in Phoenix are getting restless after officials put a stop to alcohol. (Via IG / eric_gliebe) pic.twitter.com/11Y0fOlbUuFebruary 10, 2024
If that wasn't bad enough for the boisterous crowd inside TPC Scottsdale, alcohol sales were also suspended for a time - with reports of unruly behaviour threatening to spoil the event. Fans were heard chanting "we want beer, we want beer!" on the par-3 16th as their wait for taps to turn back on continued.
TV crews were affected as well, with golf carts not allowed to ferry camera staff around the property due to the sheer amount of congestion around the course. NBC Sports crew members Smylie Kaufman and Kevin Kisner were reporting live from the Stadium Hole throughout Saturday.
Due to larger than usual crowds, the WM Phoenix Open entrance gates are temporarily closed and shuttle service to the event is on hold. Shuttle service back to parking lots will remain running. Regularly check our channels for updates. pic.twitter.com/NAi1nYuuCuFebruary 10, 2024
The exact number of golf fans inside TPC Scottsdale has not been officially known since 2019 - the last time WM Phoenix Open organizers announced daily attendance figures.
Before that, the largest single-day crowd at one of the PGA Tour's most notable events was 216,818 on Saturday in 2018. The overall attendance that week was an incredible 719,179.
While Friday and Saturday were declared sell-outs in the days prior, Thursday saw waves of fans with tickets running to find the best possible spot on the Stadium Course's par-3 16th hole - otherwise known as the Stadium Hole.
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Jonny Leighfield is our Staff News Writer who joined Golf Monthly just in time for the 2023 Solheim Cup and Ryder Cup. He graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in Sport Journalism in 2017 and spent almost five years as the sole sports reporter at his local newspaper. An improving golfer who still classes himself as ‘one of the worst players on the Golf Monthly team’, Jonny enjoys playing as much as he can and is hoping to reach his Handicap goal of 18 at some stage. He attended both the 150th and 151st Opens and is keen to make it an annual pilgrimage.
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