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Steps taken to end Phoenix rowdiness

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Forget about the traditional 19th hole booze-up. The Phoenix Open is halting beer sales at its 16th hole, and cigar sales are out altogether.

Sky boxes overlook the par-3 hole, thousands of fans cover the grassy hillside that rims the green.

And sometimes they are uncommonly rowdy.

Two years ago when Tiger Woods nailed a hole-in-one and shook his fist triumphantly, fans responded with a barrage of beer cans.

"That was scary," says Billy Mayfair of Scottsdale, who is starting his 11th year on the PGA Tour. "I know at least four or five players who said they wouldn't come back because of that reason (the rowdiness)."

And that, 1999 Open chairman Ray Artigue said Tuesday, is why organizers are dousing the suds at the 16th -- "to reduce some of the hysteria."

Not everyone objects to the hullabaloo there. Andrew Magee of Paradise Valley, preparing for his 16th straight Phoenix Open, says he uses the fan pressure as an incentive.

"As soon as I hit the shot, they go nuts," he said.

"If I had to go to a golf tournament, as boring as golf tournaments are, and I didn't have anyone I knew to follow around, I would sit on a hole and drink," Magee added, suggesting a time limit on sales rather than their elimination.

Artigue says the Thunderbirds, the charitable organization that runs the Open, considers it a family-friendly meet, with free admission for children under 18 and a child care center.

Cutting out alcohol sales on 16 and cigar sales throughout the course follow the same line, he said.

Fans can still buy alcohol several hundred yards away and bring it back to 16. Beer and wine are sold two to a customer at a time, in open containers.

"If somebody is going out there for the sole purpose of getting drunk and loud, we're going to make them work a lot harder," Artigue said.

"I don't think (the restriction) will put a damper on anything," Mayfair said. "They're still going to be there. They're still gonna be loud."

TW 30/12/98