Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Tiger Tournament

A year ago I posted about how the PGA Tour was dropping Washington from its schedule effective this year. Well, four months ago another PGA Tour stop (The International) in Colorado lost its sponsor and the tour said their event would cease to exist without a sponsor. So Tiger Woods and AT&T stepped up and grabbed the open date. The result is we have a star studded invitational event here at Congressional Country Club hosted by the world's best golfer.

Of course I had to check this out and I did so today. There were No Cameras signs posted everywhere, but this didn't stop me from sneaking my little digital Nikon in. I have to maintain the quality that the fifteen daily readers have come to know and expect when they tune in here. As usual, for a larger version of the photo, double click. Here goes:

I got my pairings sheet and decided to follow Tim Herron and Rich Beem. Tim Herron's caddy, Scotty Steele, is a friend of Mike C., who a friend of mine. I briefly met up with Scotty on #11 and chatted with him while there was a break in play. After introducing myself, I told him how I grew up with Mike C. and his brothers. He was telling me he met up with Mike and they went to the Nats game the prior evening. In closing, Scotty said to go back and follow better golfers as at that point they were struggling. I marched on with them and completed the round with them.

One thing I noticed when following this group. The PGA Tour puts a small white mark on the green where the next day's hole placement will be. The caddy who is not tending the pin, walks over and measures the distance where this hole will be to the end of the green. Then he makes a notation in his yardage book. I assume the caddies share this info with one another after the round. There's a ton of money to be won at these events so any advantage one can get out there could mean thouands of dollars to his boss.

Tim Herron and Rich Beem shake hands on 18 green as they finish their round

After Herron and Beem finished on 18, I went over and saw Tiger Woods on the practice green for a bit. I was in a good position to snap a photo but I didn't want his caddy Steve Williams busting me for doing so. Steve's been known to confront pic happy fans and the last thing I wanted was a police escort to the shuttle bus area. You could see the intensity in Tiger's eyes as he was stroking putts. When Tiger was done, I went over to the practice range for a view of the first hole. While Tiger was on the tee there were a ton of people lined up all around the first hole, shuffling around and making noise. At the range to the left of #1 and all the spectators was Vijay Singh, who was bashing practice balls before his tee time totally focused and in a zone. I'm not much of a Vijay fan but I will say he's got one of the sweetest golf swings I've seen.

I did catch Jesper Parnevik practicing on the range.

After Tiger blasted his tee shot on #1, I decided against weaving in and out of people to follow Tiger so I went back out again away from Tiger. Among the golfers I saw were Justin Leonard, Tommy Armour III and Boo Weekley. Weekley has been on Steve Czaban's show on Fox Sports Radio a couple times and I've found it hard not to like this guy. In listening to him, you get the feeling he's just an average guy who just happens to be a very good golfer. He's got one victory on tour this year and lost in a playoff at another. When I caught up to his group, he was stuffing tobacco chew in his mouth, he gets to his ball, looks at the pin placement, spits, then hits his shot to within ten feet of the pin.

Before I left the course, I went to back to hole #13 which is a par three. Why? My father, some of his golfing pals and I were volunteer marshals at the Kemper Open. I joined their group in '82 and was there through the last Kemper in '86. When we marshaled, this hole was #12 and we were on TV a bit as CBS coverage picked up the tournament as the leaders were passing through. Anyway, here is a shot of this hole.

When I got home and was reading the online Post articles, I came across this gem.

Kevin Stadler, who was paired with Tiger Woods in the third round, was 1 over par entering No. 13. The pin was tucked in the far left corner of the green (to the right as you look at my pic I posted), and he went after it with a 6-iron. "I hit it flush, a little left of the hole," Stadler said. "I never expected it was going to go in. It took a hop in the right direction." Stadler never saw his ball land in the cup. He was walking toward the green when the crowd roared.

"It was great," Stadler said. "That was probably the most thoroughly enjoyable round of golf I've had in who knows how long."

Stadler, who's father Craig won the Kemper Open in 1981 and 1982, shot 69 as did Tiger.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And here Bill thought he saw you following Tiger on number 17! :-) You should scan the photo of Jack that dad took -- that was the best!