Tuesday, 7 Feb 2017 : No fewer than 204,904 fans were present on Sunday as Hideki Matsuyama continued his astonishing season with victory at the most highly attended tournament on the planet.
The figures are staggering for an event that takes full advantage of the freedom of the Arizona vibe. Last Wednesday’s pro-am was watched by 77,906 people, while 655,434 fans turned up throughout the week.
After beating Webb Simpson in a four-hole sudden-death play-off, Matsuyama noted: “There is nothing like it in golf. Playing in front of the number of fans and gallery this past week great motivation.
“I just try to have fun with it, and at the same time keep my focus.”
At the heart of the event is the stadium erected around the 178-yard par-three 16th hole, which provides 16,000 seats. Of those, 4,000 are first come first served, creating a stampede from the moment the gates open at 7am on a tournament day.
These people are not golf fans,they are fun-seekers. The beer runs to excess and it is party time.
Visitors tell tales of portable toilets becoming venues for romantic entanglement in an “anything goes” atmosphere generated by a younger than usual demographic.
Stewards have given up all hope of controlling mobile phone use.
Fans actually watching the golf, meanwhile, cheer and boo depending on whether players manage to hit the green with their tee shot. It is as far removed as can be from a traditional golfing environment.
And you can bet that the success of Phoenix is being noted by Keith Pelley, the ambitious chief executive of the European Tour, who craves for his tournaments the sort of attendances generated in Arizona.
But any step taken in this direction has to be carefully trodden. The genuine golf fan cannot be forgotten and there remains plenty to be said for an environment that allows the purist to appreciate the nuances of the game in more peaceful surrounds.
It’s worth remembering that it has been worn by diminutive figures such as Gary Player and Ian Woosnam as well as physical giants like Sir Nick Faldo and Craig Stadler.
After all, golf is a game where one size does not have to fit all and the styling of its tournaments is just another example of the endless variety that constitutes its greatest strength.
Source By: Internet