Posted Aug 18 2009, 07:09 AM by Cathy Erickson
Thursday morning my brother and I were up and at the course by 9:00am (the parking pass was awesome!). It was another warm day in MN and the winds had already started to pick up. We checked out the pairing sheets and realized that all of the players we wanted to see were all on one side in both the morning and afternoon. We knew Tiger was on the back side and had just teed off, so we made our way to the green on the par-3 17th hole to watch for the morning.
The hole was playing 182 yards - the pin was in the middle right of the green on an upper tier. There were sand traps to the right and a tree that was over hanging on the right as well. Water was in the front but didn't seem to come into play - also a hazard on the left side of the green that had a large drop off (we saw Snedeker go in there and he had to take a drop).
Most players hit to the front left of the green which left them an uphill putt....and I think just about everyone left that putt short. We saw a few players hit short-right into the long grass and I was awed by the great recovery shots everyone made when you couldn't even see the ball. The best shot of the morning was Sergio Garcia - his ball mark was about a 1/2 inch from the cup and they actually had to call in a rules official to round the cup again after he repaired his mark. It was a great birdie!
It was pretty amazing to watch the crowds multiply as Tiger approached. We went from being the back end of the gallery to stuck in the middle somewhere...Tiger and Padraig had a ho-hum pars, but Rich Beem made a great putt for birdie! And then just like that everyone disappeared! My brother said we could stay so I could see one of my favorites...Matt Kuchar! Unfortunately he hadn't gotten off to a great start and he was the one person we saw in the trap right...but he did get up and down for par!
Sitting there, watching player after player leave the same putt short, you just wanted to yell out, hit it harder! It was also funny to realize what a different perspective we get when we're just watching golf on TV...I mean, I know we're getting the best shots on TV, but I just didn't realize how some players really scramble on some holes...especially at majors.
After the last group on the back left 17, we headed over towards the front side to catch the morning groups again. We had decided the par-5 7th hole might be a good place to watch...and so did A LOT of other people! We started out on the left side of the green (because there was a little shade) and then we were going to try to get into the grand stands once Tiger passed through. This was a fun hole to watch because many of the players went for the green in 2 and there were quite a few birdies to be had. With the pin in the left middle and water on the left, most players were right or short, which didn't make for great eagle tries.
We decided to stay at #7 for the afternoon so we could see Steve Stricker!...okay, and a few other people like Phil, Vijay, Davis, Lucas Glover, and Retief. We were surprised to see Adam Scott +4 after 6 holes, and then he bogeyed the 7th right in front of us (which played as the easiet hole for the week). Stricker was only +1 coming to 7, but couldn't get his birdie putt to drop. Again we saw the crowds multiply as Mickelson made his way through the front side. He made a nice birdie on the 7th and the crowds were very supportive. Just like when Woods came through, the stands became half empty after Phil made his way to the par-3 8th. We stayed to watch a couple more groups, but then decided to head out.
One more quick trip to the merchandise tent (credit card not happy!) and a stop at the Wannamaker tent to get a snack and we called it a day.
Highlights included...Sergio's shot on 17...the fans loving Tom Lehman and Tom appreciating it all...seeing Kenny Perry (he was a fan favorite as well)...watching Freddie make birdie on #7...Matt Kuchar making par at #17...and cheering on Steve Stricker! I thought it was funny when our whole grandstand did a "group stretch" on #7 while each group left the green. I'm already ready for Friday!!
Filed under: Fred Couples, Tiger, Kenny Perry, PGA Championship, Hazeltine, Sergio Garcia, Tom Lehman, Matt Kuchar
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