SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA | It wasn’t exactly a polar vortex, but the first groups playing the Waste Management Phoenix Open had to layer up Thursday morning until the sun peeked over the Superstition Mountains. With the exception of some strong followings for a couple of marquee groups, crowds hadn’t arrived in full force until around 10 a.m. when the lines to get through security looked no different than those for an Arizona Cardinals game. The fans even arrive in matching jerseys to set the mood.
If players ever feel alone during the Phoenix Open, it’s usually during a rare moment early on Thursday or Friday. The tournament welcomed a record-breaking 719,179 people last year, smashing the previous mark of 655,434. That’s more than an entire season’s worth of attendance for an NFL team. The numbers have become so comically astronomical that the tournament is waving the white flag on reporting them. Just call it a mass of humanity ready to have a good time.
"We understand that we have the biggest event on the PGA Tour," tournament chairman Chance Cozby said. "When you look out there, you know the attendance is big. But it’s just something that we don’t want to focus on going forward.”
If the numbers were officially recorded this year, there is reason to believe they would eclipse all other editions. The par-3 16th with its NASCAR-like arena may get all of the publicity, but now the par-4 17th features double-decker grandstands on both sides of the hole. Even the par-4 1...
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