SCOTTSDALE Ariz. — As much as the concept of quiet exists on a Saturday at TPC Scottsdale, it followed Nicolo Galletti. When he slid a birdie putt past the 14th hole, it earned only a wayward expletive from a fan who wanted to draw some laughs. When he slid another past the 15th, there was a customary groan, but not a personal one. No one, it seemed, knew who Galletti was, and why would they?
On Saturday afternoon, as he made his way around the WM Phoenix Open in anonymity, Galletti was ranked 1044th in the world. He had never played in a PGA Tour event. In 56 career tournaments across the Korn Ferry Tour, PGA Tour Latinoamerica and PGA Tour Canada, his total earnings added up to just $102,814. A finish in the top 65 would ensure this week as the most lucrative of his career.
So when Galletti walked into the stadium hole at 16, there were none of the “A-S-U” chants that Sun Devil golfers usually receive. If any fans even noticed the pitchfork on his golf bag, they kept it to themselves.
Galletti, though, was determined to change that. He’s been here before, in this crowd. The only year he missed the Open was in 2022, when he fell short in a playoff at the Monday qualifier and couldn’t stomach the idea of seeing the tournament live. Every other February, he’s made his way to TPC Scottsdale as a paying fan, just like everyone else. He knows what this is all about.
“Definitely wanted to pump them up,” Galletti said.
Even if no one knew his name, he figured he could do that with a marketing stunt, throwing headphones in the crowd as he walked towards the 16th green. That got the fans on Galletti’s side, and when he drained a 19-foot birdie putt, they erupted. Finally, someone even noticed his college allegiances. A group of four fans in American flag rompers — the type to arrive at 3:30 a.m. for their premium perch — yelled out ‘ASU baby’ and ‘Go Sun Devils.’
4 under on his back nine and two shots inside the projected cutline.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) February 10, 2024
What they didn’t know was that, with Galletti’s birdie, everything changed. He was excited to play to the fans, but also to flip the switch on his own fortunes. The putt gave him a three-stroke buffer to the cut line, enough to all but ensure his tournament would go on. By the end of the round, he was still at 4 under, in a tie for…