Planet Golf — 05 February 2017 by Candace Oehler
Saturday at the WM in photos, videos

SCOTTSDALE – Saturday is “see and be seen” day at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.  Costumes, high heels, wild outfits … it’s certainly unlike any other tournament on TOUR.  The pricey 200+ Skyboxes at No. 16 were empty at sunrise, but the bleachers were already crammed to capacity by 7:30.  The chants of “Chug! Chug! Chug!” and “USA! USA! USA!”versus the European “Ole! Ole! Ole!”  battled for dominance for more than two hours first group came to the tee.

The attendance of 204,906 broke last year’s Saturday record of 201,003. This brings the total attendance for the week to an astounding 596,780. Just 21,585 fans are needed on Sunday to break 2016’s week-long total attendance record of 618,365. Sunday attendance has never been below 23,650 (1991) in the 26 years daily attendance has been recorded.  The crush of humanity from holes 16-18 is claustrophobic and dangerous at time, begging the question of whether the tournament at some point should consider capping attendance for safety reasons.

The tournament’s seventh annual GREEN OUT raised $100,000 for three non-profit environmental organizations in the Valley. For every person who wore GREEN to the tournament on Saturday, The Thunderbirds will donate $33,333 each to Bonneville Environmental Foundation’s “Change the Course,” Arizona Recycling Coalition and the Arizona Chapter of Solid Waste Association of North America (AZ SWANA). According to the Waste Management Phoenix Open’s ‘Green Squad,’ nearly half of Saturday’s crowd of  fans and PGA TOUR pros donned GREEN gear.

ASU grad Jon Rahm, donned his Rahmbo jersey on No. 16, with the #42 in tribute to ASU grad and former pro football player turned military hero, Pat Tillman. The partisan crowd went crazy when he birdied the hole.

“To be able to hit a close one there for the fans, it was fun.  Just to drop the putt, it makes it a  lot more fun. It’s so great to know I have so many people pulling for me.

Highlight of the day – As mentioned in a previous post, Andrew “Beef” Johnston endeared himself to fans by giving out Arby’s curly fries headcovers.   This reporter was able to obtain one of the prized headcovers and can attest that it is indeed weird, unusual, and priceless.

Video today:

Jon Rahm at No. 16

Jon Rahm post-round

Phil Mickelson, who shot a 65 to put him at -10, on what he has to do Sunday:

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About Author

Candace Oehler’s deep dive into sports media began several decades ago when she won a trip from Seattle to Mariners spring training in Arizona. Noting that non-English-speaking Latino ball players received little, if any, media coverage, she fluently/en español became a pioneer in Spanish sports media, and eventually became known affectionately throughout the Latino MLB community as “La Veterana.” Candace has written for team publications and; hosted her own radio show on several Spanish-language stations; served as producer/reporter/engineer for the Mariners’ inaugural season of Spanish radio broadcasts; and has been a reporter for MLB Network Radio the past 10 years. She was invited to Venezuela by future Hall-of-Fame shortstop Omar Vizquel to cover rebuilding efforts and accomplishments of his charitable foundation following the devastating 1999 mudslides; worked in Puerto Rico for former Major Leaguers Joey Cora and Carlos Baerga managing fundraising events; and was the only female in the raucous locker room when the hometown favorite Licey Tigers won the 2004 Caribbean World Series in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Candace was introduced to the game of golf in 1992 by members of Seattle’s historic Fir State Golf Club, who had approached her to manage their (then) little fundraising tournament hosted by a shy, gangly 15-year old Tiger Woods. Candace co-managed the annual event for nearly 20 years, working with hosts that included Ken Griffey, Sr., Birdie Griffey, Mike Cameron, Nate McMillan, Warren Moon, and Dale Ellis. She became secretary of the club and the Fir State Junior Golf Foundation, and got totally, completely hooked on golf, learning to play on a set of Redbirds given to her by the club (apparently they considered her mother’s Patty Bergs a bit antiquated). She has since traded up to another set of Redbirds and a much more user-friendly golf environment in Arizona. And, once a prolonged stint on the DL is over, she can’t wait to get back on the course and continue lowering her current 21-handicap to ….?

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