SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Normally on a Wednesday afternoon, Jay Francis would be working like the rest of us.
But this Wednesday was a little different.
Francis was one of several amateurs teeing it up in the pro-am at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, and they got the full treatment.
The rowdy amphitheater at the par-3 16th was packed, and the well-oiled fans were waiting to heckle any player, amateur or pro, who didn’t find the green.
An emcee was also there to announce every player and keep the fans entertained.
Francis, who owns Right Honda and Right Toyota car dealerships, was playing in his 10th pro-am. Right Toyota is located across the street from the par-3 16th, so the infamous hole is never far from his mind.
After his round with Kevin Na, Francis couldn’t believe how things have changed at the par-3 16th.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “When I was a kid coming around here, there was just one tent and a couple of thousand people. And now it’s come to this.”
His tee shot found a bunker left of the green, and it was quickly met with a low rumble of “BOOOOOO!”
But a funny thing happened as Francis dug his feet into the blinding-white sand.
The fans in the bleachers behind the 16th green started chanting his name.
“JAY-FRANCIS!” “JAY-FRANCIS!” “JAY-FRANCIS!”
And they didn’t stop chanting until Francis blasted out of the bunker. Then the crowd cheered as his ball stopped safely on the green.
“GIVE US A WAVE, JAY!”
“I’m sure they picked someone else in the next foursome [to cheer for],” Francis said of the crowd.
They certainly did.