Saturday, August 22

Wyndham Championship: My Notes from the Gallery

ON FRIDAY I ATTENDED the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina. Following are my notes and random thoughts from my day at Sedgefield.

• It was brutally hot. You know how some people say, “It’s not the heat; it’s the humidity”? On Friday it was the heat AND humidity. Not usually a heat wimp, I was definitely slowed by the blast-furnace weather. After walking the front nine, I stood (or sat) around for most of the rest of the day.

• I followed Davis Love, Boo Weekley and Charlie Hoffman for a couple of holes before catching up with David Duval, who I followed for the rest of the front nine. After I caught up with Duval, he went birdie, par, birdie. Unfortunately, he missed the cut (74-70, 144).

• Sedgefield Country Club is a Donald Ross design. It’s a lovely course, not too hard for the pros but surely a challenge for amateurs. There are plenty of doglegs and elevation changes to keep things interesting. The greens are anything but flat.

• The volunteers did an adequate job of quieting the gallery, but they had no effect on the cicadas, which chattered incessantly. That’s normal around here in August.

• I saw CBS commentator Peter Oosterhuis, who was wearing a sling on his right arm. Did he and McCord come to blows?

• It’s 1:30 p.m. and Rocco Mediate tells some young autograph seekers it’s time for him to go to work. Rocco is immensely popular. He drops a bag of balls near the chipping green and goes to work, sweat soaking through his white shirt and melon-colored pants.

• It’s 2:30 p.m. and the other half of the field is about to tee off for the second round. I’m in a deep state of lethargy and park myself in the covered bleachers beside the first tee to watch six groups tee off. Off go Rocco, Corey Pavin, Alex Cejka, Chez Reavie, Johnson Wagner, Mark Wilson, Fred Couples, Brandt Snedeker and David Toms.

• I head back to the practice range, where I find John Daly rapping chip shots. A short while later Daly is standing on the putting green cutting up with Brent Geiberger, a cigarette hanging from JD’s lips. Onlookers study his every twitch.

• Those old Cup captains can still play. Both Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples and Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin are entered in the Wyndham Championship. Couples drew a good-sized Friday gallery on his way to a second consecutive 66, putting him in contention at 8-under. I watch Freddie birdie the short 8th hole and follow him on the 9th hole to the clubhouse. Pavin amazes me. Always a short hitter (I mean really short), he can still compete on PGA Tour courses. (He finished 19th at ultra-long Hazeltine in the PGA Championship.) On Friday, Corey shot 68 at Sedgefield. And he still uses that Bullseye putter. It’s probably the same putter from his UCLA days. Now that’s retro.

• I can understand why a lot of sports fans think golf is boring. There’s a lot of standing around. I tire of it and I’m a fan. Play is ridiculously slow on Tour. It drove me crazy at Sedgefield. Do you really need to look at an 18-inch putt from every angle, take three practice strokes and stand over it for several seconds before tapping your ball into the cup? What are those players staring at for so long? Yep, that’s the correct green, there’s the pin, you have the correct yardage and right club in your hand, would you just go ahead and hit the thing? There’s a culture of slow play on Tour that probably will never change. It really doesn’t have to be that way. It’s a turnoff.

−The Armchair Golfer

3 comments :

kokogirl said...

I have been an LPGA tournament (The Ginn Open in Orlando, now defunct) a few times, but I have never been to a PGA tournament. Thanks for the insight and comments. I think we may try to catch one of the Fall Series this year.

Lancer said...

Watching golf is inherently boring, whether live or on TV. Tiger is exciting to watch because of his incredible skill. Daly, because he is Daly, I suppose. TV makes the game appear more exciting than it is because they can cut away and cut back to something so quickly. In short, I'd rather watch it on TV than in person.

Average Golfer said...

I suppose what amazed me the most at my 1st PGA event is how much more clubhead speed the pros develop. In person the strike makes an entirely different sound. Other pros remarked that a young Woods' ball striking sound was MUCH different than all of theirs!