It's Monday morning and I'm back at work, still absorbing the 3 great days I had at Hazeltine and not quite believing that a player ranked 110th in the world beat Tiger Woods and will have his name engraved on the Wannamaker Trophy. YE Yang - the 91st PGA Champion!
My brother was able to get some time off so he was going to join me at the PGA, too - but we needed to find tickets - a few emails later a friend had a Wednesday ticket he wasn't going to be able to use, so that was my first stop on my way to the PGA (thanks Pat!!). My brother had to spend part of the day at work so he dropped me off Wednesday morning and would meet me in the afternoon. The walk up to the gates was familiar and but I still had a few excited butterflies in my stomach - I felt so lucky to have been given this chance to enjoy golf at its best.
After picking up my tickets at will call (they had my name, Phew!), the first place I headed was the merchandise tent - I couldn't help it! It was huge, as you would expect, and it was also busy. I browsed around and before I knew it I had a handful of things ready to purchase. They offered free storage of purchases, so I got a few things right away because you're just never sure if they're going to get more during the week or not.
I headed up number 1 and noticed right away that there were some players in the middle of the fairway..I stopped to watch a few approach shots and then made my way to the driving range area. The stands were packed so I went over to the side and who do I see in a purple shirt? Steve Stricker!! I pulled out my camera to get some shots (still need to download), and then I heard some rumbling in the crowd - Tiger had made his way to the far side of the range. It was already posted that he wasn't going to practice on the course on Wednesday, so the mob of fans got even bigger as word got out that he was here.
I stood and watched players hit shots for awhile and then I saw Stricker make his move off the range - I hoped he was going to #1 so I made my way over to get a look. But I couldn't see him. I mulled around and then made my way over to the putting green. Sergio and Davis Love were there so I took a few photos and then found a board that showed the practice times - I hadn't missed Stricker after all! I went back to the first tee and he was there with Jerry Kelly and another player I can't remember. I watched them tee off but then I hung around because Padraig Harrington was right behind him.
After watching a few more groups tee off I made my way to the 18 grand stands...the meeting place my brother and I had planned. It was a great place to watch since both the 9 and 18 greens were right next to each other. Lots of my favorite players made their way through so I hope my pictures turn out! I was impressed with the players who made time to sign autographs on their way through... Countless number of kids were waving hats and flags as they walked by...a few players threw some balls into the gallery, too. My brother and I met up and we made our way to par-3 17th green. We watched several groups come through and then we just roamed around to find some spots we'd like to watch from on Thursday.
After another stop at the merchandise tent to pick up my purchases we decided to head to the range again to see if there were any players hanging around in the late afternoon - not too much action, but we did see Vijay visiting with a few players as he made his way to the clubhouse. We called it a day at 5pm.
On our way to the exit gates we remembered that we needed to get a Thursday ticket for my brother. Since he and I both had passes for Friday, we could trade my other Friday pass for a Thursday - as we walked along a guy was offering to buy or sell tickets (aka scalper) so we asked about just doing a trade - he wasn't too receptive, but a guy next to him said he would be able to and he gave us a parking pass! The scalper guy wasn't too happy...but we were!
Day one of my 3 day stay at the PGA was terrific! More to come...
Filed under: PGA Championship, Hazeltine, Wednesday, practice round