Chaotic crowd scenes impacted the golf itself at the Waste Management Phoenix Open as mudslides, snow angels, and fights overshadowed the tournament.
Social media videos went viral of the drunken scenes, which even led to alcohol sales being briefly suspended across the entire event, and fans with tickets being stranded at the barriers unable to get in.
On the final day of the event, last year’s US Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson and fellow golfer Billy Horschel exchanged angry words with spectators in what is easily the best attended tournament in the sport, but also one where fan behaviour has become a story in itself.
Johnson was heard telling spectators that he was “sick of it” and demanding they “just shut up”.
Horschel, in a separate incident, was seen remonstrating with a spectator for calling out while one of his playing partners, qualifier Nicolo Galletti, was about to hit a shot.
“Buddy, when he’s over a shot shut the hell up man,” Horschel shouted. “He’s trying to hit a damn golf shot here – it’s our f****** job.”
One topless man was arrested after jumping over the ropes and diving into a greenside bunker on the 16th hole, where he proceeded to perform ‘snow angels’ in the sand, but he was untroubled by stewards or security when it came to reaching the bunker, doing a miss-timed flip/forward roll style entry, and his celebration afterwards.
Former BMW PGA Championship winner Byeong Hun An took to social media to brand the event a “s***show” which was “totally out of control on every hole”.
He added: “Played here multiple times over the years and it was fine until today.”
The event at TPC Scottsdale had a reported crowd of well over 250,000 on Saturday, and it spiralled out of control.
By mid-afternoon, fans were unable to gain entry despite having tickets, as organisers took precautions against overcrowding as heavy rain storms affected play.
The rain understandably made the course slippery. but a number of fans took it upon themselves to turn grass banks into mudslides, sliding on their fronts down the hills, and then even celebrating by pouring a beer over their heads, to cheers from their friends and onlookers. Others tumbled with slightly less precision down the banks.
There was even one video that was widely shared on social media of fans tumbling on the ground and fighting in the dirt, with other fans left to get involved and break it up.
Nicknamed “the people’s open”, the Phoenix event has become known for its boisterous crowds, and some parts are expected to be noisier than the average golf event, especially the Coliseium-like 16th hole, where signs urging those attending to be quiet have been ignored for years.
Each morning prompted an early rush as soon as gates opened, from people queuing before sunrise to reach the 16th hole, in the form of a race ‘start line’, and a woman reportedly fell and was taken to hospital in the festivities in the stadium-style stands, as videos circulated of men dressed as Oompa Loompa’s bopping their heads, people doing shots of mustard and more pints being downed than anyone could count.
As Nick Taylor secured his fifth PGA Tour title in the second hole of a playoff against Charley Hoffman, the videos of fights breaking out and mudslides had already gone far beyond the golf sphere.
Each year, fans routinely through their drinks onto the 16th green after a hole in one. Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz was hit by a beer can in 2022.
Last year, the tournament proudly stated that over a million beers were sold, but questions will be raised as to whether the events of the weekend could have implications for the next Ryder Cup, which is due to take place at Bethpage, New York.
With reporting from PA.