Why is the crowd at the Phoenix Open the rowdiest on the PGA Tour?
If the Tour had an Animal House, it would be Phoenix. In 1997, after Tiger Woods aced the par-3 16th, he was showered at the tee with been cups and empty cans. Last year David Duval was hounded by the fans (when it appeared he was going to lay up on a short par-4, someone shouted "next time wear a skirt") and finally gave the gallery the finger. " Phoenix is not golf," says 22-year Tour vet John Cook, who makes it a point to skip the event "It's a circus."
How did a minor Tour stop in the desert become the Happy Gilmore Memorial? In 1987, when the event moved to the TPC of Scottsdale, organizers lavished free tickets on local sponsors; the result was a crowd that was as much frat-house as country club. Liberal alcohol policies—spectators could buy as many beers as they could carry—fueled a free-for-all atmosphere. "We really have never denied it's a party," says tournament head John Perkinson.
Organizers have tried to tone things down, particularly after a 1999 incident in which a man heckling Woods was arrested and found to be carrying a gun. But Phoenix's reputation lives on. Last week a teen was arrested after throwing an orange near Woods as he putted on the 9th green—all limes presumably having been used in margaritas.