PGA Tour remembers Kobe Bryant with 16th-hole pin position

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FILE – In this July 26, 2018 file photo former Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna watch the U.S. national championships swimming meet in Irvine, Calif. Bryant, the 18-time NBA All-Star who won five championships and became one of the greatest basketball players of his generation during a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Gianna also died in the crash. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, file)

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The PGA Tour joined players with a 16th-hole tribute to Kobe Bryant on Sunday at the Waste Management Phoenix Open, using his two Lakers uniform numbers to cut the final-round pin position on the stadium par 3.

The pin was placed 24 yards from the front edge and 8 yards from the left edge, putting it in the back left corner of the green on the rowdy hole that holds more than 20,000 fans. The yellow flag had a 24 on one side and an 8 on the other, and large matching numbers were painted in the grass in front of the green.

Bryant, daughter Gianna and seven others were killed a week ago in a helicopter crash in California.

“That came from the the tour,” said Slugger White, the PGA Tour’s vice president of competition. “We thought it would be a nice tribute, the right thing to do, the class thing. … The Thunderbirds (tournament organizers) and everyone have been on board. I’m glad we did it.”

Third-round leader Tony Finau and fourth-ranked Justin Thomas have donned Bryant jerseys on the hole. Finau birdied it Friday and Saturday wearing a yellow No. 8 Lakers jersey.

“I’m a huge Kobe fan, huge Lakers fan my whole life and, obviously, tragic news, but I think as we look forward we can honor what he’s done,” Finau said.

Thomas has worn a white No. 33 Lower Merion High School jersey, selecting it over a Lakers jersey that he also brought from his collection.

“It’s not just for him and Gigi, it’s for everyone that lost their lives and their families,” Thomas said. “Just for me, he had such an impact on me and he was such a person that I looked up to and tried to kind of have my mental approach like that, I felt like it was very fitting.”

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