Report: Phoenix Open planning for 'significantly scaled-back' 16th hole

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For fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the PGA Tour’s best on the West Coast Swing next year, the opportunities are dwindling. Tournament officials at the Farmers Insurance Open announced Monday that spectators won’t be allowed to attend the San Diego-area tournament. Similar decisions have also been made by organizers for the Sony Open in Hawaii and American Express event in La Quinta, California, while the limited-field Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua will be held in front of a very small number of fans.

The next potential first 2021 Tour stop to permit fans? The Waste Management Phoenix Open.

According to Golf Digest, plans are being made to allow fans to attend the Feb. 4-7 event at TPC Scottsdale. Tournament chairman Scott Jenkins said Monday that the Thunderbirds, who run the event, are working with local and state health officials in Arizona as they determined just how many spectators to allow.

Unsurprisingly, as the state has experienced an uptick in COVID-19 cases, the event won’t have nearly the 700,000 number that it has eclipsed in year’s past.

“It’s fluid,” Jenkins said. “I’ve stopped trying to predict the future in our COVID world. We’d love to have fans. We’re the Peoples’ Open. We also understand that the safety of our fans, players and volunteers is the most important thing.”

As for the famous par-3 16th hole, which annually attracts more than 20,000 fans into the three-story stadium-like structure surrounding the hole? Per Digest, the goal is for a “good-sized crowd” but “significantly scaled back” with only a one-story structure. Ticket packages are only being offered to a limited number of previous suite holders.

In other words, it will be a lot quieter.

The two events following Phoenix, the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Genesis Invitational, both in California, have yet to announce any decisions. The PGA Tour had limited fans at the Bermuda Championship and Vivint Houston Open, though no patrons were permitted to attend this fall’s Masters. There are no fans at this week’s fall finale, the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico.