Golf tournaments are simple, right? Tee off on Thursday, continue Friday, position yourself on Saturday and see who wins Sunday, isn’t that the general idea?
Well, yes, and no. True, the structure doesn’t change much, but at every event, especially the big ones, there’s a full week of activity, and the recently completed PGA Championship that Jason Dufner won at Oak Hill in suburban Rochester was no exception.
For those of you not following the stories I wrote online (where were you?) or following my very active Twitter feed (get into the 21st century already!), here’s the best of the impressions gathered from a week up close with the greats of golf….
Monday – None of the biggest names were here yet, but already thousands are on the grounds, getting glimpses of the top players and club pros alike. The enthusiasm for golf in the Rochester area is incredible.
Up at the “Hill of Fame” situated above the 13th green, Tom Watson receives his plaque in a simple, beautiful ceremony. The best part – he’s led in, and then taken out, by a man playing perfect Scottish bagpipes. It creates instant goose bumps and a love for the game that goes beyond words.
Tuesday – The best time to catch Tiger Woods? That’s easy. It’s during an early-morning practice round. You can get up close, the fans are real ones (not the yelling yahoos with a few beers in their systems) and he’s still in a generally relaxed mood.
Then there’s mid-afternoon, when Phil Mickelson’s circuit of Oak Hill is complete. Literally thousands stand between the 18th green and the practice area, and he can’t accommodate them all.
Still, they try, with lots of anguished or organized cries of “PHIL! PHIL!” Standing amid the humanity, I’m bummed. Never before have so many people screamed out my name, and I’m absolutely sure they don’t want my signature.