Changes Coming After Wild Weekend at WM Phoenix Open

Changes loom for the forthcoming WM Phoenix Open after a series of issues with attendees, golfers, overpopulation, and the halt of admissions and alcohol distribution on Saturday. Chance Cozby, leading the Thunderbirds, the civic body organizing the Phoenix Open, shared with the Golf Channel on Monday that plans are underway to tackle the obstacles faced during this season’s PGA Tour extravaganza.

“I think that you will see a complete operational change of how we manage, really, our Friday and Saturday, but the entire week,” Cozby said. “We’re very proud of what we’ve built. I think we’ve been tournament of the year on the PGA Tour five of the last seven years. But we don’t like what happened on Saturday. The players don’t like what happened on Saturday. Our fans don’t like what happened on Saturday, and, so, nothing is off the table.”

The Phoenix Open reached full capacity for general admission tickets on Friday and Saturday, traditionally the most attended days of the tournament, after implementing limits on both days. Attendance figures have not been disclosed since the 2018 tournament, where record numbers were reported with 191,400 attendees on Friday and 216,818 on Saturday.

Heavy rainfall the previous week caused the grounds at TPC Scottsdale to become muddy and slippery — prompting fans to utilize concrete paths instead of grassy areas for seating and walking.

That “really created significant congestion to where, ultimately, on Saturday we didn’t do anything different from a ticketing or fan perspective as we’ve done in years past,” Cozby said. “But since areas of the golf course were not usable, the decision was made by our security partners and our team to close the front gate, to close the concession stands, to close alcohol sales. We opened up all of our security blowouts on the entire course to safely remove our fans from the course and get everything back under control and try to get through that Saturday, which was a very tough day.”

While speaking, Cozby refrained from exploring whether fan behavior influenced the freeze of alcohol sales on Saturday. Nevertheless, the following day, both Zach Johnson, the Ryder Cup captain, and Billy Horschel were observed participating in intense interactions with onlookers. Cozby acknowledged that the tournament “did not have a good Saturday” and vowed to make changes and “make this right.”

“Saturday at WM Phoenix Open in 2024,” Cozby said, “is going to end up being a turning point for our tournament and our organization to make our event better.”