PGA Championship sees spectator chaos

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Pro Golf – PGA TOUR

The chaotic spectator management that unfolded at Kiawah Island’s 18th hole on Sunday of the PGA Championship, was thrilling for winner Phil Mickelson’s fans but upsetting for runner up Brooks Koepka, who was recovering from a painful knee surgery. The prospects of the hugely popular Mickelson winning at age 50 excited the sea of fans present on the 18th. As soon as Mickelson’s approach landed on the 18th green, marshals and security could not prevent spectators from surrounding the players even as they walked up the fairway. Security could only make an attempt to protect both Mickelson and Koepka from getting pushed and shoved as fans raced ahead of the players, down the fairway, towards the green.

PGA of America Commissioner - Steve Waugh

PGA of America CEO- Seth Waugh

This prompted PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh to issue an apology on the incident and said the scene “made two players and their caddies feel vulnerable.” He blamed  “a moment of high elation and pent-up emotion by spectators,” which ended up overwhelming the security staff.

Koepka didn’t hold back with his criticism and went on record to say it almost seemed like someone was purposefully trying to hurt him, knowing his knee surgery was still fresh.

“Got dinged a few times in my recently injured knee in that crowd because no one really gave a [expletive], personally. But if my knee had been fine, yeah, it would have been cool. It’s cool for Phil. But getting dinged a few times isn’t exactly my idea of fun”, said Koepka.

India Golf Weekly’s opinion is that while the scene captured the emotion of the moment for golf fans around the world as they witnessed history being made, it was indeed a danger for the two star players who could have easily been injured in the fans’ mad rush towards the green. 

It would have taken a little bit of advance planning by the PGA of America to organise ropes to hold fans around 20 metres behind the players as they walked briskly towards the green. The PGA of America, which owns and organises the PGA Championship, is different from the PGA Tour, the organisation that stages every other tournament on the tour in the United States. 

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