Play was delayed for more than 10 minutes at the Waste Management Open as in unprecedented scenes officials and volunteers were tasked with clearing up the “multitude” of beer cans and bottles that fans threw on to the 16th green to greet Sam Ryder’s hole-in-one.
The Phoenix event is famous for the 200,000-plus crowd it attracts on a Saturday, making it easily the most attended tournament in the world.
It is the stage for the biggest golf party, as well, and nowhere is this seen to more staggering effect than the unique 124-yard par-three, nicknamed “The Coliseum”, that is completely enclosed by grandstands.
The atmosphere borders on the anarchic, with pros brutalised to hell for poor shots and hailed to the heavens for notable efforts. And for aces, the place reacts like nowhere else on Planet Golf; as Tiger Woods would testify.
In 1997, the young superstar brought down the house, and almost a few hospitality chalets, when finding the cup off the tee, but if anything the scenes that welcomed Ryder’s perfect wedge was yet more unconfined. Beer was hurled into the air and soon the putting surface and greenside bunkers were full of the abandoned containers.
After the euphoria diminished, Ryder’s countryman Brian Harmon was due to play, but he was forced to wait for 11 minutes until the green was stripped of the movable obstructions.
Stephen Cox was the PGA Tour official on duty and took to Twitter to say: “25 years in professional golf I’ve had a delay in play for situations related to weather, a gas leak, fire, medical emergency but never for excess beer cans.”
Later, Cox told Telegraph Sport. “There was an 11-minute delay in all, which was far from ideal. There were a multitude of cans and bottles. Too many to count. The bunker rake proved to be a useful tool. Thankfully there was no material damage to the green.”
ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!? ALL the drinks on me 🍻🍻🍻 pic.twitter.com/xIfIL6NLxG
— Sam Ryder (@SamRyderSU) February 12, 2022
It was Ryder’s first hole in one on the PGA Tour. “What a place to do it,” the world No 261 said. “I don't think there's any hole that has the electricity that this one has.”
Naturally, it is a controversial hole, with the purists believing it goes too far and the innovators thinking it is exactly what the ancient game requires. What nobody can dispute, however, is that its notoriety has now increased several notches.