SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Padraig Harrington was at a loss when asked to describe the Phoenix Open’s par-3 16th hole in one word.
“I’d like to see somebody describe it in one word,” Harrington said about the stadium hole at TPC Scottsdale.
The Irishman got into the spirit last year in his first appearance in the event, punting footballs into the crowd.
“I grew up as a goalkeeper, so I can kick a ball,” Harrington said.
“I have been out here a long time and it’s nice to see something different. ... Golf shouldn’t be the same every week. ... Golf should be more fun. This week, they certainly do fun in a big way.”
The fun has been diminished a bit with the PGA Tour’s decision to ban caddie races to the green because of safety concerns.
The charged environment makes the 162-yard hole more demanding.
“The last thing you want to do is three-putt on 16 and have everybody shouting and cheering at you,” Harrington said. “There is no way you can stand on the 16th tee and not feel excited, a little bit of a tingle, a little bit of nerves. You just don’t want to mess up.”
Lee Westwood is making his first start in the event.
“Obviously, 16 is unique in the world of golf,” the Englishman said. “There is nothing else like that. ... Listen, if I had bought a ticket and I was coming to this tournament, I’d be on 16 drinking beers, too. That’s right where I’d be.”
The hole will generate about $10 million in ticket revenue. Twenty-three skyboxes have been added, pushing the total to 200 and the overall capacity to 20,000. The skyboxes sold for an average of $46,000.
ALLENBY HONORED: Robert Allenby will receive the Charlie Bartlett Award from the Golf Writers Association of America, given annually to a player whose unselfish contributions have improved society.
Perhaps the best face on his work is fellow tour player Jarrod Lyle. Lyle was diagnosed with leukemia as a teen and recalls the inspiration he received from Allenby. Seven years later, they played a practice round in the British Open.
BIKINIS AND BIRDIES: The tournament has added a beach area on the west side of the lake on the par-4 18th. The venue features 30 cabanas, a super suite and viewing decks.