Enclosed 16th hole will be a test at FBR Open

By Associated PressJanuary 28, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 FBR OpenGolfers speak in reverent tones about Augusta Nationals Amen Corner or the Road Hole at St. Andrews.
 
They use different terms to describe TPC Scottsdales signature 16th Hole.
 
Crazy. Obnoxious. Nerve-racking.
 
Theres only one place on earth, one hole on earth like that, Camilo Villegas said.
 
The 16th Hole could be even rowdier this year at the FBR Open. The par-3, 162-yard hole has been fully enclosed with grandstands seating between 15,000 and 20,000 spectators.
 
It looks unbelievable, but its going to be a circus, said Pat Perez, coming off his first PGA Tour victory in last weeks Bob Hope Classic. But it looks cool. It looks really cool, full-stadium effect. Its going to be loud.
 
For Thursdays opening round, the crowd at the 16th may be larger ' and noisier ' than the 17,000-plus expected to attend that nights NBA game between the Phoenix Suns and the San Antonio Spurs at U.S. Airways Center in downtown Phoenix.
 
The 16th Hole, which gets a lot of attention, is unique to golf, local resident Phil Mickelson said. We just dont have anything like that. To have that type of environment that NBA players or football players experience, for us as golfers to be able to experience it is pretty cool.
 
Mickelson, who won this event in 1996 and 2005 and lost to J.B. Holmes in a playoff last year, is among the favorites. This is Mickelsons 2009 debut, and he said hes confident after working with coach Butch Harmon over the winter.
 
Ive been working hard on my game, and because of that Im fresh and physically and mentally ready to start playing, Mickelson said.
 
Mickelson will be among the darlings at the 16th Hole, but he knows the crowd can be fickle. Fans let him have it when he bogeyed the hole on Saturday a year ago.
 
Enfolded by an erector-set grandstand rising from the desert floor, the 16th Hole looks like nothing else on the PGA Tour.
 
Players enter through a long, dark tunnel, blinking as they step into a sun-splashed arena. Two-story corporate boxes ' there are 146 skyboxes in all ' wrap around the tee box.
 
A grandstand banks away from the right side of the green, with more skyboxes squeezing in on the left. A 969-square-foot video board rises above the seats, partially obscuring the McDowell Mountains.
 
Its nerve-racking, that hole, Perez said. Everyone keeps saying its the loudest hole in golf, and everyone is crazy and everyone does this, so everyone continues to do more every year to make it as loud and obnoxious as possible.
 
The crowd is almost literally on top of the golfers. The venue was half-filled for Wednesdays pro-am, but many fans were warming up for the tournament, hooting when tee shots went awry.
 
The fans are crazy, Villegas said. I know theres a lot of alcohol being served there. Youre going to get people yelling great stuff and then people yelling some stuff that is maybe not appropriate.
 
Hopefully I can hit it in the middle of the green four days and dont get booed, Villegas said.
 
Holmes scored three pars and a birdie on the 16th last year on his way to his second FBR Open title. Hes clearly comfortable playing in front of the throngs.
 
With that many people around, its not going to be dead silent, Holmes said.
 
The FBR Open has a well-deserved reputation for attracting throngs of partyers who know or care little about golf etiquette. It routinely draws the biggest crowds on the PGA Tour, and a record 538,356 spectators turned out last year with the Super Bowl in town.
 
Attendance typically plummets on Sunday, as the reveling masses run out of steam and others stay home to watch the Super Bowl. This year, with the hometown Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl, organizers are offering free Sunday admission to anyone in Cardinals gear. Theyre also hoping to stage a large-scale viewing party but first must iron out details with the NFL.
 
Woe be unto the golfer who professes a love for the Pittsburgh Steelers this week.
 
Golfers realize they need to bring more than their clubs and spikes to the FBR Open. They also need patience and a sense of humor ' and a set of earplugs probably wouldnt hurt.
 
Its not for everybody.
 
Theres obviously a couple of (golfers) who probably dont like the noise, Anthony Kim said. But look, if you cant play in that atmosphere, dont come to this tournament. Its a one-time-a-year deal, and I enjoy it so much.
 

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  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."