Popular Phoenix Open reduces fans due to COVID

Sports

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The most-attended tournament on the PGA Tour saw its capacity dwindle further Wednesday.

The Waste Management Phoenix Open, which will be played Feb. 4-7 at the TPC Scottsdale, announced Wednesday that, as of now, it will let in fewer than 5,000 fans Wednesday through Sunday of tournament week because of the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Arizona.

Fans will also be required to wear masks and will undergo temperature checks before they’re allowed on the grounds, which encompass 192 acres, including the notorious 16th hole.

Tournament chairman Scott Jenkins said in a statement that he remains “hopeful” that the tournament will have “extremely limited number of socially distanced fans” at this year’s event.

As of Wednesday, there have been 641,729 cases of COVID-19 and 10,673 deaths overall in Arizona and numbers have been spiking, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. The state set a record of 11,424 new cases on Jan. 4. As of Tuesday, only 145 ICU beds — or 8% of the state’s total — were available in Arizona.

In 2018, the Phoenix Open broke its record for highest weekly attendance (719,179) as well as highest daily attendance for Wednesday (83,034), Friday (191,400) and Saturday (216,818). But starting in 2019, the tournament stopped releasing attendance figures.

This year’s version of the tournament, which traditionally is played on Super Bowl weekend, has already received commitments from Brooks Koepka, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Jon Rahm and Matthew Wolff, as well as defending champion Webb Simpson.

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