I went to the PGA Tour Championship today at East Lake Golf Course with a coworker, Woodrow. Even ran into Dave Kinley at the gate. It was my first golf tournament, and I couldn't have asked for a better day to enjoy it -- 76 degrees and sunny.
We started off standing in between #1's green and 2's teebox, so we could watch both sets of action. I was excited to get to see Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods for the first time in person. Vijay was a lot taller than I expected, and you could definitely tell Tiger was the most athletic of all the golfers.
Woodrow and I made our way over to Hole 5, a monster 520 yard Par 4, where we saw both Ben Crane and Davis Love III make stellar approach shots and land their balls just feet from the pin. From the same vantage point we could also see intimidating Hole 6 -- a 168 yard Par 3 with (for the most part) an island green.
We then worked our way over to the back nine, and plunked ourselves down in the cool shade along #15 -- a beautiful uphill hole that affords views of East Lake with the Midtown skyline in the background. We decided to wait it out until Tiger showed up, and it couldn't have been a better decision.
The pin was near the front-left portion of the green, with a threatening bunker bordering the left-hand side. We were standing right in front of the start of the bunker -- if golfing, a spot that you definitely wouldn't want to be in.
It just so happened that Tiger's approach shot landed right there -- 10 feet in front of us. The majority of the gallery follows Tiger, and there was a mad rush by everyone to get there...Woodrow simply turned to me, smiled, adjusted his hat and said, "We need to look good; we're about to be on camera".
Shortly after, Woodrow said good-bye and took off back to #18, while I continued on to #16. I found out that it was tiring keeping up with the crowd around Tiger. There's no stalling. You're either craning your neck to see a shot, or speed-walking to get to the next best viewpoint. I watched him tee off (WOW), and then decided the crowd was too much for me and thought about waiting behind 16's green for him.
A couple and their little girl ended up standing next to me. The girl couldn't have been older than 5. Tiger and Howell finished the hole and started coming our way. There weren't that many people around, and when Tiger approached, the little girl in the most innocent voice squeaked out a "Hi Tiger." You could tell Tiger was in the zone, and not expecting anyone (especially a pre-K child) to be talking to him, because it took a second for the sentence to register and for him to react. He paused for just a moment, looked down at her, said "Hey there", and walked away smiling. It was a great moment.
And yes, you can tell that I was (and still am) excited about being at The Tour. Now if I can only get my hands on some Masters tickets...