As officials shut the gates and stopped beer sales amid mad crowd behaviour at the Phoenix Open last by several players Australian veteran Adam Scott carved out a top-10 finish to keep his Olympic dream alive.
The tournament was won by Nick Taylor in a playoff with Charley Hoffman but not before the antics of the crowd left one player, Korean Ben An, declaring the fans were “out of control on every hole”.
More than 200,000 people attending the TPC Scottsdale layout, famous for the towering grandstands surrounding the par three 16th hole, with former Masters champion and Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson clashing with some loud fans.
But amid the chaos, Scott carved out rounds of 65 and 66 across the final days of the tournament, which was also impacted by weather, to finish in a tie for eighth.
The result will come with a big rankings bump for Scott, who climbed three places after coming 20th at Pebble Beach the previous week, and, currently 47th, he could be on the verge of jumping back in to the top 40 again.
That would put him within touching distance of Min Woo Lee, who finished in a tie for 71st in Phoenix, having fallen from a career-high 35 to 38th before the event after failing t make the top 20 in his first two starts as a fully-fledged PGA Tour member.
The top two ranked Australians after this year’s US Open in June will qualify for the Olympics, with former world No.2 Cameron Smith on a rankings slide with no points for LIV players. Smith is currently 35, second behind Jason Day at 18, but will only have three major championships, starting with the Masters in April, to get points.
Scott said he would leave Phoenix feeling incredible positive, and heading to the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, an event he won in 2020, his last tour win.
“I’m most pleased with my ball-striking really kind of coming back to where I want it. I feel like it’s been a while since I could say that,” he said.
“That’s a good feeling, obviously, going into next week at Riviera, a tournament I love, a big event on our schedule, and a course where you really need to hit the ball well to have a chance.
“I’ve had good results there. I feel my game is in good shape, so I have a lot of positive energy going there. Looking forward to it.
“I’d love to do a little better and get in contention and try and win there for a third time.”
Day didn’t play in Phoenix but will tee it up at Riviera, where Tiger Wood will also return to action.