Many saw Zach Johnson yell at fans during the WM Phoenix Open marathon on Sunday. It was his breaking point, and the video went viral.
One media member spoke with Johnson about the tournament that toys a line with fun and obnoxious. Johnson was not pleased with the fans, per AZ Central reporter Theo Mackie.
“I just played 54 holes in two days and I’m beat. And extremely — I’m done,” Johnson said. “I’m done with everything.”
The video showed a lot of emotion from the Ryder Cup captain. He is not ordinarily vocal, or this fired up, so it stood out to many.
“This tournament has been inappropriate and crossed the line since I’ve been on tour, and this is my 21st year,” he said.
The former Masters champion noted it’s not about the tournament because he loves the golf course.
The longer Johnson talked, the more it was clear he had some feelings to get off his chest.
“It’s to the point where now, how do you reel it in? Because it’s taken on a life of its own,” Johnson said.
“I think the Thunderbirds probably need to do something about it. I’m assuming they’re ashamed. Because at some point, somebody’s either gonna really, really get hurt or worse.”
Johnson’s words and many others who vocalized their dislike this past weekend caused tournament director Chance Cozby to promise changes for this event’s future. He went on Golf Today Monday to express what they can do to reel in the fans.
“We’ve got 365 days to fix this,” Cozby said.
“I think that you will see a complete operational change of how we manage – really our Friday and Saturday but the entire week… We don’t like what happened on Saturday. The players don’t like what happened on Saturday. Our fans don’t like what happened on Saturday. Nothing is off the table.”
Whether or not significant changes happen, there may be one less player in the field. Johnson was ready to take Scottsdale off his schedule after Sunday’s situation.
“I don’t have any idea of if I’m gonna come back or not,” he said. “That’s a team/wife decision. You’re hitting me at a very emotional point right now, so if I were to say if I’m gonna come back, I’d probably say no, but at the same time, I have no idea.”
On Friday, a woman fell from the stands at the par-3 16th. Some fights broke out among fans, and people yelled during players’ backswings.
While this event has always encouraged some heckling, no one knew where the line was this year. Not to mention, tournament officials had to shut the gates and halt alcohol sales on Saturday because things got so out of hand.
Johnson had to be fed up to be as blunt as he was with the reporter, which makes one think it was pretty bad out there.
Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, be sure to follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.