Thanks to a ticket from my friend Wayne Scarano of SGA Business Systems, whom I first met at a Lotus symposium in New York back in 1994, I went to the PGA Championship at Baltusrol in Springfield, NJ on Friday. It was a beastly hot day, at least 95°F (35°C), but it was even worse on Saturday so I guess I lucked out. At times I could feel the burn on my back, but the SPF 45 sunblock that I applied in large quantities did it's job and I didn't fry. I managed to keep hydrated with massive input of water and lemonade, and let's just say that the output of perspiration equaled the input, but that did not put a damper (no pun intended, but no pun denied either) on the golf.
In the morning, we wandered around the course a bit before selecting a spot near the 7th tee, where we waited for Phil Mickelson's group to come through. Phil was in the process of shooting 65, putting some distance between himself and the field, and we saw him right at his peak. Than, after grabbing lunch we decided to try to get into position on the 4th hole, but the crowd was as at least ten deep all around the hole, as it is the course's signature hole and Tiger Woods was moving into position to play it. We retreated from there up to the fifth, positioning ourselves short of the langing area for tee shots. We weren't really close enough to the tee to hear the incredible sound of the full impact of an all-out drive, didn't have good view of the aproach shot landing, we were in full sunlight, and we realized that we weren't far enouigh ahead of the Tiger team to really stake out good spots, so we changed strategies. We went up ahead to the 15th hole where we found a good spot in the shade, about 20 yards off the elevated green on the 430 yard hole. We had a great view of the landing area and approach shots when sitting down, and we could see enough of the action on the green when we stood up to know what was happening. We stayed in that spot for about 3 hours, watching many groups go thorough.until Tiger and his massive gallery showed up. The question of the day, by that point, was whether Tiger would make the 36 hole cut, He had hit 75, 5 over par, or the opening day, and with the cut projected at +4 he needed to shoot a 69 on Friday in order to make the weekend. His bridie on 15 finally put him there. Wayne and I skpped over from 15 to 17, knowing that trying to get a good view at the par 3 16th would be impossible The 17th is a monster hole, 650 yards long. Wayne and I staked out a spot near the landing area, and when we saw the drives from the group before Tiger land, we adjusted our position to be another 20 to 40 yards down the fairway, figuring that that was where Tiger would be. Sure enough, his ball landed pretty much right in front of us. We were told it was a 364 yard drive, Quick debate ensued: does he go for the green in two, or not? My position: "This is Tiger. He doesn't hit 360 just to lay up. He's made the cut, and now we wants to make a statement." That's what he did, with a huge shot of 280 yards, left of the green. Spectators seemed to think he was off the green, but in good shape. Wayne and I realized that we wouldn't get a good view on the rest of the hole or on the 18th, so we headed to the big screens and air conditionaing in the Wannamaker club. There we found out that Tiger's shot had not, in fact, gone well. It was in a trap, too close to the lip to play out at the hole. He played out to the rough, chipped, and then missed the par putt, putting him back in danger of missing the cut. We kept watching on the big screens as he birdied 18 to get back into it. CBS undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief when that happened. Tiger was 12 shots behind, but at least he'd be playing on the weekend.
Phil won the delayed fourth round this morning. Tiger, came back from just barely making the cut to pick up ten strokes on the leaders, finishing two back tied for fourth.