Famous players like Bubba Watson did some great golfing. We watched Watson drain a spectacular putt to get an eagle on the fourth hole. Other high profile players like Tiger Woods did some terrible golfing. We watched Tiger on the same hole, make a bad chip from the rough into the thick grass at the edge of the green, and then miss a three- foot putt.
We witnessed the play of promising young golfers and seasoned professionals. Phil Mickelson was paired with Rickie Fowler nearly twenty years his junior. We watched the two of them on the eighth hole where the elder Mickelson bested Fowler with a birdie.
We followed Canadian Mike Weir for a few holes. Some fans watching Mike were obviously proud to be Canadians. One man was wearing a shirt with a huge maple leaf on the back and pants featuring dozens of smaller maple leafs. Then there were the American fans behind us who joked when Mike’s shot landed in the desert rough, “His caddy must have given him the yardage in meters by mistake.”
Fifteen of the greens were hushed and quiet when players putted. But the Phoenix Open is famous for its sixteenth green where fans can make as much noise as they want. We heard cheers and jeers rising in waves from the 16th green.
On the 18th green we watched Pat Perez putt. He had eye-catching plaid pants, a round stomach and nearly shoulder- length curly hair. On the same hole we saw Camilo Villegas putt. He wore perfectly pressed black pants, had a washboard stomach and closely cropped hair.
Some spectators at the tournament, like me, followed the strict rules posted everywhere about not taking photos. These rules were repeated by course marshals and flashed on the screens. Yet many golf fans were snapping countless pictures and making video recordings with the cameras on their phones. In fact I found out when I got home that Golf Digest was featuring Instagram photos taken by spectators at the Waste Management Open.
The course at the Tournament Players Golf Club at Sawgrass where the tournament was held was beautifully groomed. The desert landscape was impeccably landscaped for the PGA event. But I noticed a whole flock of wild birds landing on one hole and the golfers had to do their best to navigate around them.
The Waste Management Open gives over $6 million in prizes to players, some of whom are already quite wealthy, but it is also donates a percentage of profits to worthy philanthropic causes. Since its inception eighty years ago tournament organizers have distributed $86 million to Arizona charities. Knowing that made it a little easier to spend $10 on a pretzel and a cup of lemonade. The salespeople’s T-shirts made it clear they represented various community organizations and were working to raise money for them.
We saw players from places we have visited on our travels like Danny Lee from Rotorua, New Zealand, Gonzalo Fernandez Castano from Madrid, Spain and Brian Davis from London, England. We also saw players from places that are on our travel bucket list like Retief Goosen from South Africa, Padraig Harrington from Ireland and Martin Laird from Scotland.
I admit I went to the Phoenix Open primarily to keep my husband company but I ended up being quite engaged by the striking contrasts I observed at the tournament. I had an enjoyable day.
Other posts about golf…….