Late in the Friday afternoon round at the Honda Classic, one of the downsides of having raucous environment in a small area on the PGA Tour showed up.
The par 3 17th hole at PGA National is tough enough without rowdy, and sometimes intoxicated fans on top of and heckling players, but it became an issue with a famed player involved.
Multi-time worldwide winner Sergio Garcia, who has repeatedly dealt with hecklers in U.S. tournaments, had to endure it, again during the late stages of his second round. Garcia was -3 for the tourney, which had him in the top 25, when he came to the tough par 3 15th.
After making bogey there, he was clearly being bothered by fans hurling barbs behind the green. Garcia, then went on to also bogey the par 4 16th with another fan shouting something behind the green and the Golf Channel TV crew began to make mention of the rowdy behavior.
That’s when he headed to the daunting 17th that concludes the famed “Bear Trap” of difficult holes. And the “fueled up” fans waiting there decided to chime in. Here’s an account from a national golf media member.
— Steve DiMeglio (@Steve_DiMeglio) February 25, 2017
He’s referring to Tour Pro, Billy Horschel, who had spoken out after his round about what he witnessed on the 17th Friday and in previous years.
I'm all 4 fans having a great time/memorable experience but I'm not pleased w/the scene around the 17th hole last few yrs @TheHondaClassic
— Billy Horschel (@BillyHo_Golf) February 24, 2017
Horschel had also tweeted comparing the hole to the famed “party first-golf second” 16th at TPC Scottsdale and the Waste Management Phoenix Open. And specifically, how much harder your tee shot is at the Honda hole than the WMO 16th. We actually worte about the fans and that environment in Scottsdale last month.
I can chime in that covering the Honda, as a rover reporter calling shots for PGA Tour Radio for four rounds in 2014, those grandstands right over the top of the players on the tee with fans who have been drinking all day are absolutely a problem. I witnessed people screaming out and being escorted out by security and the police two different times.
Back to Garcia Friday. He hit a tremendous tee shot at 17, only to miss the seven foot birdie putt and hear a “cat call” behind the green when he did.
Look, not all fans around the greens at PGA National are bad. It’s a small percentage. And when, the Tour comes to Sawgrass for the Players in May, there will be vocal and intoxicated fans around the island green 17th, too.
It was just a bad look Friday, and knowing Jack Nicklaus, they will be looking into ways to better patrol or maybe eliminate the fans right on top of that tee box.