Canadian Taylor leads with play suspended in third round at Phoenix Open
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The party at TPC Scottsdale was a rager Saturday, with so many booze-soaked shenanigans that the Phoenix Open had to close the gates mid-afternoon and limit alcohol sales because the course was too crowded.
And yes — there was also some golf played.
Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., had a one-shot lead at 13 under with 12 holes left in his third round when play was suspended Saturday because of darkness at the waterlogged tournament.
“It was pretty epic,” said a grinning Sahith Theegala, who was a stroke back. "There were a bunch of guys with my name and face on their shirts. An officer was telling me people got too drunk, but it was all in good fun. Hopefully everyone stayed safe.
“It's a blast, even if some people aren't the best drunks.”
Taylor continued to ride his fast start after matching the course record with an 11-under 60 to finish his first round Friday. The Canadian completed just six holes Saturday, with one birdie and five pars.
Theegala used five birdies on the back nine of the second round early Saturday to shoot a 64 and take a one-shot lead into the third. He bogeyed his first two holes of the third, but made a birdie on No. 4 to pull within a stroke.
The 35-year-old Taylor is going for his fourth PGA Tour victory. The former University of Washington star lives in the area. He won the Canadian Open last year in a playoff, which was also a raucous atmosphere, though nothing's quite like TPC Scottsdale.
“Tried to stay warm, get loose,” Taylor said. “It was a pretty good six holes, even if it was cold and windy.”
Doug Ghim and Andrew Novak were 11 under, with Jordan Spieth and Cameron Young at 10 under.
Scottie Scheffler — eyeing his third straight Phoenix Open win — was five shots back at 8 under. He’s trying for the first three-peat on the PGA Tour in 13 years.
It's been a soggy tournament so far in the desert, though the weather was drier by Saturday afternoon. A long weather delay Thursday left half the field needing to finish their first rounds on Friday and a 90-minute frost delay Friday pushed tee times back even more.
That moved much of the second round into Saturday and there was another delay — this one for just 21 minutes — in the morning because of unplayable conditions.
The leaders teed off for the third round at 4:10 p.m., giving them about two hours on the course before play was suspended.
Sunday's forecast is dry and slightly warmer, though there could be another frost delay.
Corey Conners of Listowel, Ont., is tied for 28th at 5 under.
Much of Saturday's biggest news happened outside the ropes. The famously no-holds-barred tournament had to turn away some ticket holders and limited alcohol sales because the course became too crowded.
“Due to larger than usual crowds, the WM Phoenix Open entrance gates are temporarily closed and shuttle service to the event is on hold,” the tournament put on social media. “Shuttle service back to parking lots will remain running. Regularly check our channels for updates.”
The Phoenix Open, dubbed the “Greatest Show on Grass,” is unlike anything in golf. Masses of up to 200,000 fans pack TPC Scottsdale’s Stadium Course with cheers, boos and the occasional beer shower. The eye of the rowdy hurricane is the stadium 16th hole, a multi-tiered frat party of a par-3 where “Quiet please” signs are met with ample disdain.
Players usually enjoy the atmosphere because everyone knows it's a once-a-year phenomenon. But even parties have limits.
The huge crowds came to Scottsdale despite less-than-ideal weather conditions. It was raining and in the 40s for most of the morning before the sun peeked through the clouds and temperatures rose to the 50s.
Theegala shot up the leaderboard on the back nine of the second round early Saturday, with birdies on Nos. 11, 13, 14, 15 and 17. The 26-year-old — a three-time all-America selection at Pepperdine — won his first PGA Tour title last year at the Fortinet Championship.
“After the first few holes, we finally got scoreable conditions,” Theegala said. “No wind, soft greens, which is rare out here.”
--- AP Sports Writer John Marshall contributed to this report.
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