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About 2,500 fans requested refund for tickets to WM Phoenix Open after not getting in

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Nearly 2,500 golf fans have requested ticket refunds from the WM Phoenix Open, claiming they were barred from entering the tournament during the third round after organizers closed the gates in an effort to mitigate the drunken chaos that overwhelmed this year’s event.

The Open ended with a record-high number of arrests, was overly crowded, and became so disorganized that it infuriated professional golfers and longtime fans alike ― some of whom questioned whether they would return next year.

The chaos reached its peak on Saturday, Feb. 10, when, “due to the large inflow of guests” tournament security “made the decision to allow guests into the event without scanning tickets to alleviate pressure at the entrance gates,” according to tournament spokesperson Ryan Woodcock.

Organizers cut off alcohol sales and denied access to individuals who had purchased tournament tickets.

In an email six days after The Arizona Republic asked, Woodcock said in an email that 2,461 fans have requested their money back. None of them have received a refund as of yet, but that refunds were starting to be issued on March 7 for those who bought their ticket on the Phoenix Open website.

Those who bought their ticket on StubHub, Vivid Seats or anywhere else are out of luck, however. Woodcock told The Republic that “we are unable to verify ticket purchases through any other vendor,” so anyone who did not use the Phoenix Open web page to buy their ticket is not eligible for a refund, even if they were barred from entering.

“They really screwed over a lot of a lot of fans,” said John Christensen, who attends the Open every year with his father as a family tradition, but was unable to get into this year’s event and is ineligible for a refund. “We paid for something that we weren’t able to use.”

The Open organizers, who are a nonprofit organization called The Thunderbirds, declined to answer questions about how many fans attended the tournament. They haven’t announced attendance numbers since 2018.

It’s also unclear how many fans who bought tickets were turned away from the Open on that Saturday, let alone how many of them can’t get their money back because they used a third-party ticket service.

Woodcock did not explain why the tournament is unable to verify tickets purchased through other websites, saying only that the refund process involves, “verifying the purchase of a ticket through (our) website and verifying that the ticket was not scanned. Upon verification, we will issue a refund to any and all eligible fans who request a refund.”

Eligible fans have until March 31 to submit a refund request by emailing orders@wmphoenixopen.com.

“We understand the frustrations from those who have submitted refund requests and welcome the feedback and opportunity to improve our systems,” Woodcock wrote to The Republic. “To request a refund or inquire about a pending request, please email orders@wmphoenixopen.com.”

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