I'd probably self-categorize as marginally more than a casual golf fan. It isn't the top of my list but I can really get into it during the majors.
With the rest of humanity I've been mesmerized by Tiger's domination up until his US Open injury. I haven't seen anything like it since MJ hijacked basketball. I didn't think I could ever get into golf as much without Tiger in the field. It has been a slow recovery the last couple of years but I think I just discovered last month that my sobriety is complete and I'm no longer a Tiger addict. I'm over it and the cure wasn't what I expected.
Last month my dad and I cashed in his 2010 Father's Day gift and we drove to Ponte Vedra, FL to watch The Players Championship at Sawgrass. TPC is dubbed the 5th major. It is about 3.5 hours from our house and is famous for their island green on the Par 3, 17th.
I had never been to a professional golf tournament. IT WAS AWESOME. Being there live is what converted me from a Tiger fan to a golf fan.
Predictably, I followed Tiger's injury leading up to the tournament and checked regularly to see if he had entered the field. Just my luck he signed up to play. We decided to go for the second round. Tiger dug himself into such a deficit thru 9 holes on Thursday (and aggravated his injury) that he withdrew before we ever got within 200 miles of the course. Just my luck again, but it took a day to realize it.
Now it would have been nice if Tiger was still playing because he would have diluted the rest of the crowds on the golf course but it really wasn't that busy anyway and I didn't have the temptation to spend the whole afternoon following him around.
We saw every hole at least once. The 17th didn't disappoint. We saw plenty of splashes to accompany our many personal miseries on the golf course. I was really excited to see the 18th because I'd seen so many times in past years the risk and reward of how far left to aim your tee shot. Nobody took much risk on a Friday at the 18th except those outside the cut line with nothing to lose and those were some pretty remarkable shots. The 16th really had the most reward for the risky and David Toms hit an awesome second shot on 16, especially considering the pin placement on Friday. We probably watched 10 groups play the 13th during the day. It was a par 3 and we sat probably 5 feet from the back edge of the green and saw some awesome shots during the day. I can and do still walk the whole course in my imagination.
The personalities and egos were interesting to observe. Some were spot on with my expectations and some were surprising. There could be a lot of factors that go into that and I may go another day and have a totally different experience.
A few examples of guys that I'm less of a fan of after watching in person:
A couple of examples of guys that I'm more of a fan of after the human experience:
Phil (last name not necessary)
The US Open starts today. I'm sure I'll tune in a bit and now I'll be watching through a totally different lens.