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Gates closed, alcohol sales suspended amid chaos at WM Phoenix Open | Rogers Report

UPDATE, Sunday 1:30 p.m. ET: The WM Phoenix Open issued a statement regarding the decision to close the tournament gates Saturday. You can read it in full below.

“As an organization, our fans and their safety is our top priority. Due to steady rainfall in Scottsdale this week that created deteriorating course conditions, we unfortunately had to close the gates at the tournament entrance and stop allowing fans to enter the golf course on Saturday afternoon. The stadium-style course layout at TPC Scottsdale which features large banks for crowds to stand and sit, were soggy and unusable. This pushed patrons who would normally congregate in those areas into high-foot-traffic areas causing severe congestion at key points on event grounds including the entrance and exit. After consulting with event partners and officials, we made the decision to temporarily close the tournament entrance to alleviate crowding in those areas in the interest of public safety. We know that fans with Saturday tickets were turned away. The Thunderbirds as an organization are gathering more details and discussing options on how to remedy their concerns. To the greatest fans in golf, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused as we always strive to create the best event possible.”

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On Saturday at the WM Phoenix Open, I observed more chaos in the last eight hours than I have cumulatively in the last decade of my life. I saw men bleeding from the face, people napping on muddy hills and adults knocking each other over because they couldn’t walk straight. Picture the first few minutes of trying to exit a sold-out concert and multiply it by 15. That’s where we were at.

For reference, the walk from the practice area to the 16th tee has taken me about 12 minutes all week. Today? Forty-five (45). The place was packed. A little later on, I witnessed a fan storm the 16th hole. He dove into a green-side bunker, ran around and was promptly arrested about 15 seconds later.
Then, another unexpected event: they temporarily closed gates and stopped selling alcohol. The goal of shutting the gates was to hopefully get the crowd to thin out as people left.

As for what it looked like on some areas of the course? See for yourself.

The chaos became a serious safety issue. People were getting trampled in the crowded areas, some fans collapsed and fences had to be cut to open up extra space for the massive crowds to move.

On the spectrum of anti-fun to lover of mayhem, I probably fall somewhere in the middle, but I definitely started to feel like I was stuck in an overcrowded fraternity basement by mid-afternoon. I spoke with a member of the security team, and there was real concern that people would get seriously injured, especially because so many spectators were getting stuck in the crowds, so everything was put to a halt.

By the time I made my way back to the media center at about 5 p.m., the amount of fans packed in outside of the 16th hole felt much more like a normal golf tournament.

Fan reactions

I was curious what people on-site thought about all of this, so I took to Twitter to see their thoughts. Here’s a sampling of what I saw.

Obviously, some fans loved the chaos. A handful of people who have worked here for years said today was the craziest they’ve ever seen it. Will things change a bit next year because of today? We’ll find out.