The 191,000 giveth and taketh away.
The large crowds at Waste Management Phoenix Open make for a unique stop on the PGA schedule. It’s become the tournament’s calling card and the reputation of the raucous crowd can turn some players off and turn up the obnoxious level of the patrons.
Charlie Beljan saw both sides of it on back-to-back holes on Friday as he was scrambling to make the cut.
He heard calls of “CB” and “Go Lions” from the Red Mountain contingent in attendance as he came through the tunnel at No. 16 before stepping up and hitting his tee shot 3.1-feet from the hole. After his birdie putt, the crowd let out a roar and he threw his ball into the crowd.
“It was a brilliant shot and there is nothing better than hitting it close for the people,” Beljan said.
Then he made his way over to the drivable No. 17 hole one shot off the cutline. A birdie was a must, an eagle would have been even better.
He got a new ball out of his bag, marked it, took a few swings practice swings and prepared for a drive that was essentially going to determine whether he was going to be playing the final two rounds of the tournament.
He went through his routine, was ready to and as he took the driver back someone in the crowd yelled “Let the big dog eat.”
Beljan stopped his swing, backed off, his playing partner – Matt Every – had his back and yelled “Shut the (expletive) up.” He collected himself up, went through his routine and stripped his drive to the left side of the green.
He missed his eagle putt but made the birdie to secure his spot over the weekend.
“If the noise continues from the time you start to the time you stop then it’s fine,” Beljan said. “But when they yell right when you start it’s tough. It’s part of being here and playing in this tournament.”
Jesse Mueller, a Red Mountain graduate, had one of his young golfers at Grand Canyon University Golf Course, where he is the director of golf, make the trip to follow his round.
The freshman at Trevor Browne took a city bus back and forth to the course from Phoenix just to watch Mueller play.
“He’s at the course so much, he’s like family,” Mueller said.
Lopes Nation was very vocal, and the purple contingent made it clear Mueller has full support as they flashed the Lopes sign all throughout his round.
“Our fans travel so well,” he said. “How could you not notice? It was like a basketball game.”
Dobson graduate Chez Reavie is off to one of the best starts of his career, making the cut on every start so far, with six straight top 25 finishes in seven total events.
“I’ve been playing really solid,” said Reavie, who had four top 10 finishes last year and $1.8 million in earnings. “I didn’t make a whole lot of putts in Hawaii and Palm Springs, but I’ve really been striking the ball well and fortunately I made a few this week.”
He is joined by fellow Sun Devils Phil Mickelson and Jon Rahm in the top 10 to start Saturday’s round.
“Hopefully, we’ll all keep it going and we’ll finish 1, 2, 3 on Sunday,” Reavie said.
Rahm, who was in the same group as Mickelson the first two days, wore a Pat Tillman jersey on the 16th hole.
“It’s cool,” Mickelson said. “He represents Arizona State really well and it’s great to see the way the people get behind him here. It’s been fun for us.”
— Jason P. Skoda is a senior writer for MyNewsMesa.com. Send human interest story ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.