‘I’m done': Zach Johnson explains why he might not return to WM Phoenix Open
Zach Johnson is done.
With what exactly? Well, everything, he says.
Johnson was seemingly worse for the wear after a marathon weekend at the WM Phoenix Open crammed with golf holes and unruly fans when he stopped to talk Sunday evening with a local reporter from the Arizona Republic. A few hours earlier, a viral video surfaced of Johnson getting into a verbal altercation with a fan (or fans) outside the ropes.
“I’m sick of it … shut up!” Johnson yelled before stomping off.
Johnson wasn’t alone. Billy Horschel also was picked up engaging with a noisy fan that was yapping in another player’s backswing. The same thing happened to Jordan Spieth, who could be seen on TV mouthing, “What the f---?”
It was a wild WMPO – even by WMPO standards. Drunk fans egged on larger drunk fans to use muddy terrain as slip and slides. At least a couple fans lost control of their bladders in public. Others passed out long enough to be woken up by law enforcement. A woman was badly injured after falling from the grandstands at the 16th hole, and at one point Saturday the atmosphere got so chaotic that tournament officials closed the entrances and suspended alcohol sales at TPC Scottsdale.
So, what did Johnson, a Tour veteran of 21 seasons, think? Did this year’s WMPO cross the line?
“This tournament has been inappropriate and crossed the line since I’ve been on Tour,” Johnson told reporter Theo Mackie.
After some back and forth that included Johnson stopping a thought to ask the reporter who he works for, Johnson expounded a little more.
“I don’t know what the line is,” Johnson added, “but you have people falling out of the rafters, you have fights in the stands. It’s to the point where now, how do you reel it in? Because it’s taken on a life of its own. 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. You’ve got a woman falling down 20 feet.”
Tournament director Chance Cozby acknowledged the concerns of Johnsons and others on Golf Channel’s “Golf Today” on Monday morning.
“We’ve got 365 days to fix this,” Cozby said, “so 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.
“We are not going to let this happen again.”
Johnson was also asked if he’d be back at TPC Scottsdale next year, to which Johnson said, “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.”
Pressed on why he was so emotional, Johnson replied, “Because I just played 54 holes in two days and I’m beat. And extremely – I’m done. I’m done with it.”
“With this?” the reporter followed.
“I’m done with everything,” Johnson said.