I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the infamous 16th hole at Phoenix’s FBR Open, but for my money there isn’t a rowdier and more boisterous crowd than the rabid fans at Warwick Hills’ 17th hole.
A year ago I overheard a husband tell his wife, “Is it me or do the crowds get bigger and bigger here every year?”
In past years, in fact, CBS’s Peter Oosterhuis has described the action at No. 17 from his perch at the 13th hole because it was so loud he couldn’t hear his producer in his headset. Last year, four state policemen protected the pond in front of the green to prevent fans from diving in for an afternoon dip. (This isn’t just a precaution. Trust me, it has happened.)
Earlier in the week, Woody Austin reflected on his favorite memory from winning the 1995 Buick Open: “I guess it was my first – since it was my rookie year, it was kind of my first experience with a rowdy crowd on 17. And I’d been playing with Freddie Couples the first couple days and having to hear [chants of] “Freddie, Freddie” always.
“So on Sunday when they were yelling “Woody, Woody,” that was my first really good feeling of having a big crowd yelling my name. I thought that was really cool. So I’ll never forget that.”