Near the clubhouse at Oak Hill Country Club on a sun-drenched Tuesday afternoon, the scene resembles a red carpet. Literally thousands of fans are draped between the 18th hole and the practice green, screaming and begging for one of those thousands of autographs Phil Mickelson is so famous for giving out.
Now, of course, was the time for fans to get those precious (or not-so precious) signatures before the serious business of the season's final major starts bright and early Thursday morning in the Rochester suburb of Pittsford. All told, 156 players will tee it up, but only one walks away with the Wanamaker Trophy.
And who is that one? What PGA history at Oak Hill has taught us is that it could range from legendary (Jack Nicklaus) to anonymous (Shaun Micheel), with literally dozens of possibilities in between.
Tiger Woods does not fall into the latter category. Even with five wins this season, and even coming off a total domination at Firestone, Woods faces the enormous burden that five-plus years without a major, the longest drought of his career, has put on him.
Maybe it didn't help that Woods, who famously said that green speeds fooled him in recent majors, said last week that Oak Hill was also running slow on the Stimpmeter. A week (and a win) later, he's more positive about how they're rolling. Woods gets a chance to start quick with a Thursday-morning tee time, and how he does in those opening holes might determine how the rest of the tournament goes for everyone else.
And yes, that includes the last guy to win a major. Phil Mickelson may never play a better round than his masterful 66 that claimed the Open Championship at Muirfield, but he might not need it to add a second PGA to the one he claimed eight years ago.