Jan
30
2013
Behind the Scenes: Waste Management Phoenix Open, Wednesday edition
By Stephanie Wei under PGA Tour

I know I should know better and use Word instead of WordPress to write my posts, but old habits die hard. The internet timed out and I just lost the last hour’s worth of work–which is always fun–but it’s my own fault. Anyway! It was a busy yet fun (and kind of weird) day on Wednesday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Above, you can watch the #WUPHangout that I did earlier this evening. What did we talk about?

Well, all things Phoenix Open and deer antler spray, of course!

I spent most of the day loitering and gathering info from players on the 16th hole and practice areas. Unfortunately, I have too much material and can’t share it all. Sigh. But I’ll do my best to hit all the highlights.

Because I’ve been asked by a gazillion people, yes, it was me photo-bombing Michael Phelps and Gary Woodland on the famed par-3 16th during Wednesday’s pro-am. I was taking videos, pictures, ‘gramming, Vine-ing, etc., so I could share them with you all!

And here’s the Vine I was “creating” when you saw me behind Woodland.

While I’m at it, I also made a Vine of the long-hitting Luke List bombing drives on the range.

It appears those lessons from Hank Haney has helped out Phelps, the most-decorated-Olympian in history. His swing looks way better than a few months ago. Here’s the YouTube video of Phelps teeing off on 16 in the pro-am (he was playing with Bubba Watson). I’m betting this was the first time the world-class athlete has ever been boo’ed.

As you can see, the “stadium” was packed. I mean, it looked like it was near maximum capacity. Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people show up early in the week to this tourney. I don’t blame them because they are obviously having the time of their lives!

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In regard to Vijay Singh and the deer-antler-spray scandal, I found perhaps the best player to speak to on the substance — the one and only Boo Weekley, who is also an avid hunter.

“I use the deer piss — I spray it on my boots and not on my skin,” said Boo when I asked if he’d heard of the product. “Cause when I’m out there walking in the woods, I don’t want them chase me down and get me. I want them to follow me.

“I hadn’t heard of it used as … the only deer spray I’d heard of is what we’d spray — deer testosterone — on our boots, which is deer urine. We spray it on a rag and drag it behind us. So the bucks will come in behind us and then they chase us. But I’ve never used it on me.”

Boo’s dad happens to be a pharmacist, who knows about the substance as a medical professional. (Boo asked me not to identify his father by name because he works for corporate America.)

“I’ve talked to (my dad) about (deer antler spray),” said Boo by the putting green on Wednesday afternoon. “He says it’s been around for a while in the medical field, and other animals have been used to help prevent more injuries or to help recover from injuries faster…

“My old man he don’t know the whole scenario of it. He’s heard of it being a pharmacist. I don’t know how spray could make that big of a difference, but I guess it can. The only thing I’ve used is deer urine.”

Does it work?

“As (my old man) says, yes,” said Boo, cautiously, after pausing for a second.

“There are a lot of deer farms around where I live (in the Florida panhandle and Southeast),” he said “I’ve heard of things, people steeling horns off other people’s property for black market sales overseas, where people crush them down and use them for medicine.”

Boo said he wasn’t aware it was on the list of banned substances.

As you can imagine, deer antler spray and Vijay were popular topics on the range today. There was no sign of the Big Fijian, though, but as of Wednesday night, he is still in the field for this week’s Phoenix Open.

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Onto more important things — perhaps the most exciting news of the day: The ‘stash is back. Of course I’m talking about Johnson Wagner, who shaved off his famed facial hair at the end of last season during the playoffs to switch things up. (See pic.)

Asked why it’s making a return, Wagner said, smiling, “Because I missed it.”

While he was reluctant to give a straight answer, I’m guessing — and this is pure speculation — that it’s partly a result of superstition. He played well with it last year and so far this season, he missed the cut at the Sony Open, where he was defending champion. His best finish is T13 at 30-man Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

So perhaps it was time for a change. From personal experience as a former junior and college golfer, we’re absurdly superstitious, not to mention ritualistic. Golfers will try anything to try and change their luck, or improve their performance. It doesn’t matter if it actually works. In fact, it’s usually the placebo effect in play, but hey, we know that belief is a powerful potion.

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Bo Van Pelt shot an 11-under 59 in the pro-am. Off the tee on the drivable par-4 17th — a fantastic risk-reward hole — BVP hit the flagstick on his drive. He had a tap-in for eagle. There was a back-up on the tee, and Phil Mickelson, who was in the group behind BVP, started jumping up-and-down and going nuts, telling Bo he needed to get after it because he could shoot 59.

Up until that point, Bo wasn’t aware he was so close to golf’s magic number because he’d forgotten it was a par-71. He came through in the clutch, making a ten-footer for birdie on 18 to post THE score.

He’s probably thinking, damn, why didn’t I save that for the tournament?!

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Alright, I was already half asleep an hour ago, so now it’s way past my bedtime. It’s going to be a fun week, per usual. Are you all ready for the Greatest Show on the Grass?? Well, it’s here!