Newbie's thoughts on the PGA ... Stu's 20-year reunion post will be coming later this week. And, really, we can't wait. Newbie?
A major golf championship does not often come around to these parts. While there is a great hassle and expense in attending, it is well worth the experience. It is my belief if you are going to attend, you must get a full week’s pass: go to at least 1 practice round to get a feel for the course and see the entire thing at your leisure. Also, scout a spot you can sit on the weekend. Thursday or Friday pick a spot to watch most groups come through. I recommend a par 3. The other day, pick a “lesser” group that is behind Tiger or Phil and follow them their entire round. You can get up close to them and not have to get stuck in a crowd waiting for those big guys. Plus, you get a feel for how a pro attacks a course. Sunday, find a spot on the 18 green. Get there early. Enjoy.
As for my experience, we went Thursday walked around and were able to see many of the groups come through at a couple different holes. We did see a group of guys dressed in hockey gear following Mike Weir ... Marthaler? All week everyone was referring to Tiger, almost as Him. As if there was no one else on the course. It was all where is HE at, when will HE be coming by. Thursday on #3, Justin Rose threw a ball to a kid. Excited the kid wondered allowed, “I wonder if Tiger will sign it.” Making me want to snatch it from him for not realizing it is a cherished prize on its own. Later we were able to see Mr. Rose sitting outside the clubhouse, Newbile didn’t want to stop and watch him sit. She doesn’t understand golf.
Sunday was a different story. We were able to find a spot on the Par 3 17th. Probably the most difficult hole on the course. It is down hill, 182 yards, water in front and to the left of an elevated green. Bunkers guarding the front and back right side. The green slopes towards the tee with a ridge on the back. If you go long, there is some thick rough (see Tiger’s fourth bogey.) The pin was on top of the back ridge, which prompted the leader (Yang) to put the ball safely in the center of the green. Tiger needed to stick one close. The wind had picked up later in the day and I’m sure seemed goofy on the tee box. He went long and the rest is history. What we saw: most golfers took the conservative route and placed the ball in the middle of the green. Often they would read the slope incorrectly and come up short. But usually they made par. Several put the tee-shot on the slope down to the water on the left. Chris Wood put his in some mud and proceed to put on his rain gear (prompting a cheer from the crowd) he hit it 10 feet higher on the slope, then finally to the fringe. Kenny Perry chipped out beautifully and saved par. Only a few were able to stick the ball close off the tee; Phil (still only got par) and Henrik Stensen (almost missed a birdie) are who I can remember. Fred Couples was the only other that put it (real) long off the tee and he chipped perfectly to save par.
Randballers: Do you prefer to sit at home and watch a sporting event, where you can see everything that is going on? Or would you rather be there and be part of the experience? Have you had an experience where you were right there, knowing he was coming down the first fairway, thousands of people standing in your way, just straining to get a glimpse of Mr. Randball, wishing Tiger Woods would get out of the way?