FBR A Hole Lotta Fun
One week every year on the PGA Tour, fan behavior at this otherwise innocuous little par 3 jumps out of the frying pandemonium and into the fire.
And this is that week. Welcome to the 2009 edition of the antepenultimate hole at the FBR Open where the initials might as well stand for fractious, bumptious and raucous. All, mind you, in the name of a good time.
Not to overhype it or anything, but the 16th is a hot house, a fun house and a nut house. It is a dog house, a frat house and a brew haus all wrapped up into one big combo enchilada of alcohol-marinated ectoplasm, endoplasm and escalated effervescence. There is, after all, a tightrope between too much alliteration and complete obliteration. Its time to walk the walk.
And at the risk of reiteration: They do convene at this Shoutatorium every year. They arrive in full throat. And, OK, maybe it's impossible to overhype the mix of enthusiasm, insolence and wonderfully sophomoric shenanigans that ensues.
By the way, if you think this column is over the top so far, wait until you see the way grown humans act late in the afternoon when the leaders come through the 16th Saturday and Sunday at TPC Scottsdale.
As GolfChannel.com reported late last year, this year tournament officials have added 3,000 bleacher seats which means the 16th will now be completely enclosed.
You will be reading about all of this much of the week. And you will be seeing a metric ton of it on Golf Channel. The 16th is a coliseum. The players are the gladiators. Must see tee vee.
Tournament chairman John Felix ' whose nickname was The Cat when he roomed with Golf Channels own Jerry Foltz at the University of Arizona ' says they actually considered changing the name of the 16th to The Coliseum.
But, he added, Part of the hole and the popularity there were the personalities who made it famous. Were conscious that it remains about the golf.
It feels more like a stadium, Felix The Cat said although he admits it sounds more like Arena Golf.
When Oakley, the people who make those designer sunglasses, originally sponsored the 16th several years ago they hung a small sign that the players saw as they walked through the tunnel that connects the 15th green to the 16th tee.
It said: Every athlete wants to be a rock star and every rock star wants to be an athlete.
One of the most popular rock star/athletes at the 16th at TPC Scottsdale is Phil Mickelson. And its no coincidence that Philly Mick, who attended nearby Arizona State, will make his 2009 PGA Tour debut this week.
Geoff Ogilvy blew the field away at windy Kapalua in Week One. Zach Johnson performed surgery on Seth Raynors tricky track at the Sony Open one week later. And Pat Perez went postal on par early and hung on late to win the Bob Hope Classic.
Now is the time for all good men and women who know just a little about golf and a lot about partying to come to the aid of the PGA Tour. It promises to be noisier than the Obama Inauguration and a very different kind of celebration.
I mean how many holes on the PGA Tour actually have an emcee?
The 16th at TPC Scottsdale does. His name is Jock Holliman. He is a long-time member of the Thunderbirds, the local civic group that stages the FBR Open. And Felix gives Holliman, the guy with the microphone, much of the credit for keeping the 20,000 lions in the stands from devouring the gladiators inside the ropes when their 15 minutes of infamy arrives.
Felix also has a plan that will enable spectators to hang around the grounds and watch Super Bowl XLIII on a Jumbotron. Kick-off is expected approximately 30 minutes after the last putt drops Sunday.
Ever since the Tour moved to TPC Scottsdale in 1987 the tournament has rarely failed to coincide with Super Bowl Week. The big difference this year is that one of the teams'the Arizona Cardinals'is local.
Meanwhile, the over and under at No. 16 will have nothing to do with points and everything to do with birdies, bogeys, boos, booze, chants, rants, raves, waves, woofs, barbs, barks, bites and bragging rights.
Im not sure Id want a steady diet of this, Bart Bryant told GolfChannel.com late last month. But his instructor, top 100 teacher Brian Mogg, said No. 16 is a good thing for the Tour.
Kind of like taking your Maybach 62 out on the open road and winding it up once in a while. But always keeping a hand on the throttle.
We dont want things to boil over, Felix said. Were always watching.
In 1999 security guards had to remove a fan from Tiger Woods gallery near the sixth hole at TPC Scottsdale basically because he was drunk and didnt know when to shut up when Woods was trying to hit his shots. The man was later found to have a gun in his fanny pack.
All of which turned into a public relations black eye for the tournament. Only later was it discovered that the spectator was a huge Woods fan, meant no harm and that he owned a permit for the gun. Regardless, Woods has been back to this tournament just one time since.
There have been no reports of fans with guns at No. 16. Just lots of testosterone, collagen, leather, designer shades and margaritas.
I think theres a pretty damn good party going on here, Hal Sutton once said. And theres a golf tournament lost somewhere in the middle of it.
Witnesses say the roar that accompanied Woods hole-in-one in 1997 at the 16th was the loudest ever heard on a golf course. Ask someone who was there and if their answer is, What? you will know why.
But the players, for the most part, have learned to go with the lava flow of heat they receive if they hit a poor shot on 16. If you dont like it, Rocco Mediate advised his fellow lodge brothers, dont come.
Theres always a line, Felix says. And when it gets crossed, officials (and security) come down on the side of the game and the players.
The fun part is watching how close to that line the throbbing, heaving, belching, jeering mass of humanity can get.
This year players not only emerge from the tunnel connecting 15 and 16, but they disappear into another tunnel that leads to the 17th tee.
Finally, former Masters chairman Hord Hardin famously remarked years ago that there would never be a Pizza Hut Masters. No, he said, The Masters would never be for sale to the highest corporate bidder.
Similarly, and maybe best of all, is the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale appears safe from the suggestions that it could fetch a high price for sponsorship.
Its not got a for sale sign on it, by any means, Felix told GolfChannel.com.
Which means, for all its impurities, No. 16 will remain pure.
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CareerBuilder purse payouts: Rahm wins $1.06 million
Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry on the fourth hole of sudden death to win the CareerBuilder Challenger. Here's a look at how the purse was paid out in La Quinta, Calif.:
|T20||Charles Howell III||-14||$57,754|
|T36||Tyrone Van Aswegen||-12||$27,189|
|T69||Billy Hurley III||-6||$11,623|
After Further Review: Tiger's return comes at perfect time
Each week, GolfChannel.com takes a look back at the week in golf. Here's what's weighing on our writers' minds.
On the current state of golf as Tiger Woods returns to competition ...
Less than four days before Tiger Woods returns to official competitive golf for the first time in a year, Jon Rahm, the new second-ranked player in the world, won on the PGA Tour and Rory McIlroy made an impressive 2018 debut on the European Tour (T-3).
Not since Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus crossed paths at the 1960 U.S. Open has there been so many superstars all poised for big seasons, with world No. 1 Dustin Johnson having already won this year and Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas both coming off stellar seasons.
It’s a good time for golf. - Rex Hoggard
On Tommy Fleetwood's continued success ...
There have been scores of talented European players whose skills didn’t translate to the PGA Tour … and maybe, in a few years, Tommy Fleetwood will prove to be no different.
He sure looks like the real deal, though.
His title defense in Abu Dhabi – on the strength of a back-nine 30 in windy conditions – was his third title in the past 12 months and 11th top-10 overall. A few of those have come in majors and World Golf Championship events, too, which led the reigning Race to Dubai champion to accept PGA Tour membership for this season.
Beginning at Riviera, he plans to play exclusively in the States through May, then reassess for the rest of the year. Hope he sticks, because he’s a fun personality with tons of game. - Ryan Lavner
Rahm passes Spieth to become world No. 2
With his win Sunday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, Jon Rahm picked up his second PGA Tour victory and moved to No. 2 in the FedExCup points standings.
He picked up one more No. 2, too.
The 23-year-old Spaniard passed Jordan Spieth to move to No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking, behind only Dustin Johnson.
In 19 months, since June 2016, Rahm has rocketed from No. 776 in the world to No. 2, thanks in part to his low divisor, his number of events played.
Asked after his playoff victory over Andrew Landry to discuss his rapid ascent up the world rankings, Rahm was almost at a loss.
“It's hard to believe to be honest, passing Jordan Spieth,” he said. “That's a three-time major champion. I only have two wins. He's got 10-plus, right? It's again – I've said it many times – I never thought I was going to be at this point in my life right now.”
Rahm may only have two PGA Tour titles, but this is his fourth worldwide win in the last year, dating back to last season’s Farmers Insurance Open. He also took the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and the DP World Tour Championship on his way to claiming the European Tour’s 2017 Rookie of the Year Award.
Dating back to the start of last season on the PGA Tour, Rahm has racked up 12 top-10s, three runner-ups, and two wins.
He will head to Torrey Pines next week ready to defend for the first time.
Brady compares self to Woods after winning AFC title
Tom Brady and Tiger Woods are two of the all-time greats in their respective sports ... a fact that is not lost on the five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.
Fresh off leading the New England Patriots to a AFC Championship victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Brady was asked about winning the game despite a cut on his throwing hand - which made national news heading into the matchup.
His response invoked the name of a certain 14-time major winner, something that would be tough to pull off, if not for the fact that he is, you know, Tom Brady.
“I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that," the 40-year-old told reporters after the game. "It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament."
Tom Brady, postgame, on wearing the wrap on his hand: “I think it's kind of arrogant to say it bothered me when we had a pretty good game, so I wouldn't say that. It's like when Tiger Woods said, ‘That was my C game’ and he won the tournament.”— Ryan Lavner (@RyanLavnerGC) January 22, 2018
Tiger Woods winning with his "C game" may be a distant memory for golf fans, but no matter what game he brings, his next chance to win comes next week at Torrey Pines during his official comeback to the PGA Tour.
Brady has a shot at his sixth Super Bowl title in two weeks. The Patriots would probably benefit from him bringing a little better than his "C game" as well.