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Golf benefits from a bit of mob rule.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open is not a golfing tournament for the faint-hearted or the purist.

Last Sunday, Phil "Tax Loophole" Mickelson (he moved US states to minimise his income tax liability) picked up the trophy with a final total of a remarkable 27 under par.

During the four days of competition over 540,000 spectators went through the gates with a new all-time one-day attendance record of 179,022.

To put that into some sort of pale perspective, we, at an average Open Championship, wax lyrically triumphant when daily figures of around 30,000 are recorded.

This PGA event, held in Scottsville, Arizona, features arguably the most intimidating and fearsome hole in golf.

The 16th is a formidable 175-yard par three to a domed green surrounded by bunkers and slippery slopes.

Scary enough in isolation, but then factor in its total encirclement of two and three-storey towering spectator stands, hospitality boxes and a numerous proliferance of alcoholic refuelling dens and you have the modern-day equivalent of a bear pit or Roman coliseum where the strident baying for blood is the only consideration for the 20,000 incumbents.

A mob which becomes increasingly rowdy and judgemental as the day progresses by vociferously cheering or booing dependant on the fate of the tee shot and the popularity of the ball striker.

The caddies add to the tumult by competing in mad tumbling dashes clutching cumbersome golf bags across harsh desert terrain to reach the putting surface first accompanied by frantic hysterical support.

In further actions of interactive excess, Padraig Harrington, as he left the tee, kicked American footballs into the crowd, Bubba Watson tossed dozens of caps to the clamouring throng whilst a country and western song recorded by an NBC commentator accompanied by lipsynching golfers and officials boomed out constantly.

Crazy golf yet entertaining mayhem sums up the madness of this particular hole and if the player doesn't fully participate in the fun then he becomes maligned and vilified in true pantomime style.

Some players of a more delicate disposition deliberately sidestep this tournament and who can blame them? The likes of Colin Montgomerie, who whinges on hearing a butterfly break wind half-a-mile away during his backswing, would spontaneously combust such is the overall raucousnature and boisterousness that prevails.

Andy Carroll.

It will never be possible to contemplate whether the staid and starchy officials who govern the Royal and Ancient at St Andrews would ever sanction such disruptive yet good natured behaviour, although on sober refection, maybe, just once a year for golf to indulge itself and slacken its restraints of dignity and decorum might just be fun.

IT would be a legal bet albeit a silly one for the weekend...

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" During the four days of competition over 540,000 spectators went through the gates with a new one-day attendance record of 179,022


Andy Carroll.

Phil Mickelson shows off the Phoenix Open trophy after his victory at the weekend.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 7, 2013
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