The Phoenix Open Hangover, Parts 2 and 3 – Gary Woodland Wins In Playoff
- Category: Inside Golf
- Published: 2018-02-05
Gary Woodland Won The Waste Management Phoenix Open On The First Hole Of A Playoff To At Least Allow Football Fans A Chance To Get In Front Of A TV To Watch The Super Bowl At A Reasonable Time - AP Photo
By Alfie Lau
We all know the telltale signs of having too much fun, often with alcohol, and the after-effects the next day. The spring in your step is more a slow foot drag, the steel trap mind gives way to asking for the question to be repeated and the throbbing headache you have only gets relief from massive ingestions of Advil and water.
Well, Super Bowl Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open certainly has that feel.
On a day when the announced attendance of 64,273 was less than a third of Saturday’s record attendance, the parking lot attendants were wildly off their game, with cars pointed every which way and frazzled spectators who just wanted to watch golf with no playoff and get home in reasonable time to watch the Super Bowl.
No such luck, as for the third year in a row, there was playoff, which only lasted one hole and ended before kickoff of the Super Bowl. On the bright side, Sunday’s attendance brought the weekly numbers to 719,179, a new all-time record.
Long hitting Gary Woodland got off to a hot start and finished with nine birdies and two bogeys for a (-7) round of 64 and a four-round total of (-18). That seemed like it would be enough, but local product Chez Reavie made a clutch 21-foot birdie putt on the last hole to force a playoff.
But in the playoff, Reavie couldn’t get up-and-down for par on the 18th, while Woodland was able to make par and walk away with the trophy.
What makes the final Sunday of the Phoenix Open so different is what’s left on the course are the true golf fans, the fans who wear orange for Rickie Fowler or Arizona State colours for their alumni favourites, Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson and Reavie. There’s no more concerts at The Bird’s Nest, no more Nelly, One Republic, Florida Georgia Line fans pre-drinking on the golf course before spending all night rocking and rolling a fairway’s walk from the golf course.
Even the rowdy denizens at the 16th hole seem like they’ve had enough, as there’s more respectful clapping for good shots than derisive jeering for bad shots. For many at the Phoenix Open, they need Sunday morning and afternoon to recover in time for the Super Bowl because that’s the television and social event of the year. With the golf tournament ending just as the pregame ceremonies for the Super Bowl reach a crescendo, there’s a lot of fan crossover.
In 2008, when JB Holmes beat Phil Mickelson in a playoff at TPC Scottsdale, many fans remember Mickelson having caddy Jim “Bones” Mackay dig his pair of Super Bowl tickets out of the golf bag and give them to a father and son who could use them across town in Glendale.
Of course, Phil was in contention for the title, so he was going to miss the start of the game anyway, but working media will remember even more vividly Mickelson’s press conference afterwards, where he and wife Amy watched the first quarter of the Super Bowl in the media centre. That unforgettable Super Bowl, highlighted by David Tyree’s improbable catch and the Patriots losing their perfect season to the New York Giants, is still a part of Arizona sports history.
And who can forget 2015, again when the Super Bowl was being held in Phoenix, and golfers such as Keegan Bradley, Jordan Spieth, Nick Taylor (a Seahawks fan) and Adam Hadwin (a Patriots fan) making their way from Scottsdale to Glendale after their rounds to see the New England Patriots nip the Seattle Seahawks. Brooks Koepka ended up winning that tournament, but much of the attention was 20 miles to the west, where the Super Bowl was being played.
The Super Bowl may not have been held in Phoenix in 2016 and 2017, but the Phoenix Open did impact how people in Arizona viewed the Super Bowl. Hideki Matsuyama won both years, both times in playoffs that ended after the Super Bowl kicked off. That put golf fans who are football fans in a bind, as they couldn’t leave their investment in the golf unless they sacrificed seeing the whole Super Bowl.
In 2016, Rickie Fowler was in total control of the tournament standing on the 17th tee, only to have adrenaline lead his driver to go long and his ball into a watery grave behind the hole. A visibly distraught Fowler couldn’t hold off the Japanese star, but there was many a football fan lamenting missing the start of the Super Bowl and in particular, Lady Gaga’s inspired performance of the Star Spangled Banner.
Fowler wouldn’t find his redemption this year either, after entering the final round with a one-stroke lead, he fell off the pace early and was never truly in contention on Sunday.
On the Canadian front, it seems like the three Canucks who made the weekend also fell victim to the Sunday malaise.
Abbotsford’s Adam Hadwin, who entered the weekend just three strokes off the lead, could only come through with a (+3) 74 Saturday and even par 71 Sunday to finish at (-4). That was still a stroke better than Ontario’s Ben Silverman, who finished at (-3) after a final round (+1) 72. Abbotsford’s Nick Taylor rounded out the Canadians with a final round (-2) 69 to finish at (-2) for the tournament.
Perhaps the saddest sight in Scottsdale was Sunday afternoon, when one solitary golf bag was in the cart barn. The bag belonged to Ontario’s Mac Hughes, who missed the cut by one stroke on Friday, but most local pros stay at TPC Scottsdale to use the world-class range. Hughes’ bag was the only bag left because everybody still in the tournament was on the course, chasing big bucks.
About The Writer:
Alfie Lau has been a contributor to Inside Golf for several years and is making his annual pilgrimage down the coast for the PGA TOUR's West Coast Swing. He can be reached at www.twitter.com/AlfieLau