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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Kelly beats Monty with two-shot swing on final hole
KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Jerry Kelly made an 18-foot birdie putt on the final hole, Colin Montgomerie missed a 6-footer for par and Kelly turned a one-shot deficit into a victory Saturday in the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.
After Kelly drove it well right into lava rocks on the par-4 16th, leading to bogey and giving Montgomerie the lead, Montgomerie made a mistake with his tee shot on the last, finding a fairway bunker. Montgomerie's approach went over the green and after Kelly converted his birdie, the 54-year-old Scot jammed his par putt well past the hole.
It was the third win on the over-50 tour for the 51-year-old Kelly, who finished tied for 14th last week at the PGA Tour's Sony Open in Honolulu. That gave him confidence as he hopped over to the Big Island for his tournament debut at Hualalai. The limited-field event includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.
Kelly closed with a 6-under 66 for a three-day total of 18-under 198. Montgomerie shot 69. David Toms shot 67 and finished two shots back, and Miguel Angel Jimenez was another stroke behind after a 66.
Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, closed with a 70 to finish at 10 under.
Rahm manages frustration, two back at CareerBuilder
Jon Rahm managed the winds and his frustrations Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge to give himself a chance to win his fourth worldwide title in the last year.
Rahm’s 2-under-par 70 on the PGA West Stadium Course left him two shots off the lead going into the final round.
“I wasn’t really dealing with the wind that much,” Rahm said of his frustrations. “I was dealing with not being as fluid as I was the last two days.”
The world’s No. 3 ranked player opened with a 62 at La Quinta Country Club on Thursday and followed it up with a 67 on Friday at PGA West. He made six birdies and four bogeys on the Stadium Course on Saturday.
“The first day, everything was outstanding,” Rahm said. “Yesterday, my driver was a little shaky but my irons shots were perfect. Today, my driver was shaky and my irons shots were shaky. On a course like this, it’s punishing, but luckily on the holes where I found the fairway I was able to make birdies.”
Rahm is projected to move to No. 2 in the world rankings with a finish of sixth or better on Sunday.
Cook leads by one entering final round at CareerBuilder
LA QUINTA, Calif. – Austin Cook hit a hybrid into the fairway bunker on the par-4 18th on a breezy Saturday afternoon at La Quinta Country Club, then chunked a wedge and raced a chip 20 feet past the hole.
Kip Henley, the longtime PGA Tour caddie who guided Cook to a breakthrough victory at Sea Island in November, stepped in to give the 26-year-old former Arkansas star a quick pep talk.
''Kip said, 'Let's finish this like we did on the first day at the Nicklaus Course.' We made a big par putt on 18 there and he said, 'Let's just do the same thing. Let's get this line right and if you get the line right it's going in.'''
It did, giving Cook an 8-under 64 and a one-stroke lead in the CareerBuilder Challenge going into the final round on the Stadium Course at PGA West. Fellow former Razorback Andrew Landry and Martin Piller were tied for second, and Jon Rahm and Scott Piercy were a another stroke back after a tricky day in wind that didn't get close to the predicted gusts of 40 mph.
''I know that I wouldn't have wanted to play the Stadium today,'' Cook said. ''I think we got a great draw with the courses that we got to play on the days that we got to play them.''
Cook played the final six holes on the front nine in 6 under with an eagle and four birdies.
''Starting on my fourth hole, I was able to make a birdie and kind of get the ball rolling and it never really stopped rolling,'' Cook said. ''Kip and I were doing really good at seeing the line on the greens.''
After a bogey on 10, he birdied 11, 12 and 15 and parred the final three to get to 19-under 197.
''I think that tonight the nerves, the butterflies, all that will kind of be a little less,'' Cook said. ''I've been in the situation before and I was able to finish the job on Sunday. I think it would be a little different if I didn't play like I did on Sunday at Sea Island.''
He's making his first start in the event.
''I came in from Hawaii on Monday, so I only had two days to prepare for three courses,'' Cook said.
Landry, the second-round leader, had a 70 at the Stadium. Piller, the husband of LPGA tour player Gerina Piller, shot a 67 at La Quinta. Winless on the PGA Tour, they will join Cook in the final threesome.
''Piller's a good guy and we have played a lot together and same with Cookie,'' said Landry, the only player without a bogey after 54 holes. ''Hope the Hogs are going to come out on top.''
Rahm had a 70 at the Stadium to reach 17 under. The third-ranked Rahm beat up the par 5s again, but had four bogeys – three on par 3s. He has played the 12 par 5s in 13 under with an eagle and 11 birdies.
''A little bit of a survival day,'' Rahm said.
The wind was more of a factor on the more exposed and tighter Stadium Course.
''The course is firming up,'' Rahm said. ''I know if we have similar wind to today, if we shoot something under par, you'll be way up there contesting it over the last few holes.''
Piercy had a 66 at the Stadium.
''I controlled my ball really well today,'' he said.
Adam Hadwin had a 67 at La Quinta a year after shooting a third-round 59 on the course. The Canadian was 16 under along with Grayson Murray and Brandon Harkins. Murray had a 67 on the Nicklaus Course, and Harkins shot 68 at the Stadium.
Phil Mickelson missed the cut in his first tournament of the year for the second time in his career, shooting a 74 on the Stadium to finish at 4 under – four strokes from a Sunday tee time. The 47-year-old Hall of Famer was playing for the first time since late October. He also missed the cut in the Phoenix Open in his 2009 opener.
Charlie Reiter, the Palm Desert High School senior playing on the first sponsor exemption the event has given to an amateur, also missed the cut. He had three early straight double bogeys in a 77 on the Stadium that left him 1 over.
John Daly had an 80 at La Quinta. He opened with a triple bogey and had six bogeys – four in a row to start his second nine - and only one birdie. The 51-year-old Daly opened with a 69 on the Nicklaus layout and had a 71 on Friday at the Stadium.
Phil misses CareerBuilder cut for first time in 24 years
Phil Mickelson missed the cut Saturday at the CareerBuilder Challenge. It’s a rare occurrence in his Hall of Fame career.
He has played the event 15 times, going back to when it was known as the Bob Hope Classic. He has won it twice.
How rare is his missing the cut there?
The last time he did so, there was no such thing as a DVD, Wi-Fi, iPods, Xbox, DVR capability or YouTube.
The PGA Tour’s Jon Rahm didn’t exist, either.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut in this event was 1994, nine months before Rahm was born.
Mickelson struggled to a 2-over-par 74 in the heavy winds Saturday on the PGA West Stadium Course, missing the 54-hole cut by four shots. He hit just four of 14 fairways, just nine of 18 greens. He took a double bogey at the 15th after requiring two shots to escape the steep-walled bunker on the left side of the green.
Mickelson won’t have to wait long to try to get back in the hunt. He’s scheduled to play the Farmers Insurance Open next week at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, Calif.