On Saturday afternoon at precisely 14.50pm, Sam Ryder produced a moment of history with his 54-degree wedge at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Clipping a shot that never seemed to leave the flag, the former Stetson University student produced just the 10th hole-in-one at the iconic 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
It had been a long wait, seven years and 2,851 shots to be precise, since we saw the last ace in 2015. That day, it was former Champion Golfer of the Year, Francesco Molinari, who gave the fans something to cheer about in 'The Coliseum.'
Now, it's Ryder who will add his name to the role of honour, with a moment that will be replayed at every future tournament, as well as to his future children and his children's children.
A photo posted by on
Although the moment provided a visual masterpiece for those watching on their television screens, it seemed to cause division between those watching on their laptop screens... Not so much the shot from Ryder, but more the bombardment of beer from the 20,000 well-watered fans surrounding the iconic par-3.
As the ball fell into the cup, a mist descended on Scottsdale. The thing is this mist wasn't natural, this mist was of a Moravian Barley kind, with a Coors Light shower replicating that of Kieran Trippier's freekick in a World Cup a few summers ago.
Going into the tournament, a Waste Management Phoenix Open distributor predicted that around 750,000 servings of beer would be sold at TPC Scottsdale. When that hole-in-one went in, it's likely 10,000 of them ended up sprawled across the 16th green in a scene that resembled the end of an evening at a nightclub, rather than a PGA Tour event.
For me, personally, I don't think it was much of a problem. The unbelievable staff around the green managed to clear it all relatively quickly. Plus, it was a hole-in-one! If it had been someone hitting it to within two-feet, then yes, it would have been questioned, but if you look at Tiger's ace from 1997, they were throwing beers then, it's not as if it's a new thing.
However, these types of actions must be controlled and not go over the top. An example of this came on Sunday, when a chip-in from Justin Thomas caused fans to pelt the green with their watered down beverages.
Yes, the crowd may have been hyped up from yet another hole-in-one, this time from Carlos Ortiz, as well as Harry Higgs and Joel Dahmen, who decided to remove their shirts following some par saves. A chip-in though? We don't want it to get to a point where it becomes a regular occurrence, where carnage ensues because somebody has holed a short birdie putt
A photo posted by on
In the current climate though, I feel golf needs these types of individual events. When that ball hit the bottom of the cup for the ace, look at all the attention that clip gained worldwide from people sharing, viewing and just talking about it. I mean, the Phoenix Open is dubbed 'The People's Open' and is staged on the same weekend as the Super Bowl, one of the largest sporting events in the US calendar. Tournaments like the Phoenix Open are helping change people's perspective of golf as a sport.
It's not as if the players have complained either. They know that fans are going to boo if they hit a bad shot and cheer when they hit a good one. Even four-time Major winner, Brooks Koepka, commented: "I love it. Look, I love when people get rowdy. They're cheering you when you hit it tight, and they're booing you when you hit it bad. It almost feels like a real sport, like football, basketball, soccer.
"If you do something wrong, you deserve to get heckled. If you do something right, they will cheer for you. I think that's what makes this event so cool. I understand why some guys don't like it. They don't agree with -- or they just don't play it, I guess, because they don't like it. It's something I have always loved." Quite simply, the overall view is that if players aren't fans of the atmosphere, then they can have the week off.
However, some viewers disagree, with some comments stating the scenes are "disgusting", that the beer-chucking moment is "everything wrong with golf" and that the "PGA Tour is encouraging fans to boo". Of course they are entitled to think that but, with the current threat of a breakaway league and players reportedly switching for huge financial gain, which is going to be more watchable?
Golf is arguably in the strongest position that it has ever been in both on and off the course. Participation numbers are at an all time high, there are a number of professionals that can win a PGA or DP World Tour event every week and the winners of said Tour are, on average, the youngest we have ever seen. It's an incredible time to be involved in the world of golf.
Events like these can only raise the profile of the sport. They are obviously tailored to suit the non-golfer, but don't you think that is sort of a good thing? If a non-golfer is watching then there is a chance they will be encouraged to take the game up. If you were to reverse this, it's unlikely that someone will quit the game because they have watched the Phoenix Open...
Sports have found ways of being unique. Cricket has introduced 20/20 from the test match format for example. With golf, a tournament like this happens once a year and, if it is changing people's perception of the game from 'stuffy' and 'elitist' to 'fun', then it is obviously doing something right...
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Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.
Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°
Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°
Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°
Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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