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PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan has branded the antics of last month’s WM Phoenix “unacceptable” and promised that they would be addressed.
The event is well-known for its raucous party atmosphere and informality. However, several rowdy incidents called into question whether things had gone too far this year. They largely centred around the 16th green, where two holes-in-one led to wild celebrations. Sam Ryder was the first to achieve the feat during the third round, which triggered the showering of the green with hundreds of beer cans and bottles. Then, the following day, Carlos Ortiz matched the achievement, which caused a similar scene – and saw the player hit with a beer can.
Speaking to BBC Sport (opens in new tab), Monahan explained that incidents of that nature would need to be curtailed in the future, although he did admit that there were mitigating circumstances behind the atmosphere. “The health and safety of athletes and fans is our number one priority. At the Phoenix Open, we’ve created an atmosphere that is unmatched and unparalleled in our sport. And when you go back to that week, we hadn’t had a hole-in-one on 16 since 2015. Also, it was in a period when people are coming out of their homes and experiencing sporting events at venues the way they used to after not being able to do so for so long. The reaction you saw was the stunning nature of a hole-in-one on that hole."
Nevertheless, Monahan made it clear that he's not prepared to let similar scenes happen in the future. He said: "It’s never acceptable to be throwing water and beer bottles. We saw it a few times that weekend, and it’s going to be addressed.”
The crowd’s throwing of cans and bottles wasn’t the only controversial talking point of a boisterous tournament. Harry Higgs and Joel Dahmen also played up to the atmosphere, going topless after Higgs holed a 10-foot putt, again at the 16th. Higgs admitted afterwards that he regretted his decision “almost immediately", and said: "If we are fined, and we deserve to be, we would pay our fine but kind of raise money to donate to charity. I’m never going to do it ever again."
However, speaking at the recent Players Championship, Monahan also tackled that incident and again suggested an underlying reason for the over-celebrating. He said: “Harry and Joel did get carried away but it’s the atmosphere we’ve created. We’ve got to recognise that’s something we helped to build and when you get situations that need to be addressed, they get addressed.”
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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