Feb
8
2011
Impressive Turnout for the Monday Finish at the Phoenix Open
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

The gallery at the 18th green

13,033 fans enjoyed free admission and parking for the first Monday finish at the Phoenix Open since 1978. That’s more than some tournaments see during the weekend. I was so impressed by the turnout that I couldn’t stop tweeting pictures of the gallery.

The atmosphere was relaxed yet still abuzz with excitement and energy. And finally, the weather returned to much more normal conditions for the desert — 70 degrees, sunny and perfect. The age group and blood alcohol level of the average fan on Monday were on opposite ends of the spectrum compared with what we saw over the weekend.

When I first saw the packs of people, I turned to Yahoo’s Shane Bacon and said, “Don’t these people have work?” He pointed out the majority of people in the gallery were in the retirement age range.

Of course, the Thunderbirds were there to tend to their duties.

A flock of Thunderbirds pose for a photo on 18 tee

The frigid temperatures not only interrupted the golf, but deterred fans (especially college co-eds in mini skirts) from showing up. Total attendance for the week was around 365,052, down 14 percent from a year ago and the smallest Phoenix Open crowd since 1993.

The crowds along the 18th fairway were at least three deep

I had low expectations for Monday’s numbers, figuring most would have Super Bowl hangovers and/or work. Apparently I underestimated the power of “free” and I forgot we were in Scottsdale, a senior citizen hub.