New York fans aren’t that bad. I know, I know, I can’t believe I just said that either. I’ve always been the first to criticize them. Maybe I’ve been living in this city for too long or maybe I’ve been to the U.S. Open for six of the last seven days to bear witness. Probably a little of both.
Throughout the week at the soggy Open, I’ve glared at annoying beer-guzzling fans, walked away disgusted, or “ssshh-ed” them countless times. I’d roll my eyes almost every time I hear “Get in the hole!” (which would mean after every player hits a shot). It’s old and it’s just not cool anymore. In fact, I don’t know when it ever was. Circa 1999, perhaps? Or let’s try, never.
There’s also been the “You da man!” and “Come on, you’re better than that!” – among others. I’ve just been shaking my head and quietly laughing. We hear idiotic comments at every golf tournament – it’s not just these “disrespectful” New Yorkers. And yes, it is very annoying and perhaps more so than the average tournament – I’ll admit that.
At the same time, the energy, encouragement and enthusiasm have been unparalleled to anything I’ve ever experienced – especially at a golf tournament; one that has been muddy and wet, no less. Sure, they’ll always be “that” guy yelling something less-than-intelligent. But for the most part, people have been supportive and positive. (I mean, haven’t you heard the cheers for Phil?) The players haven’t seemed to mind either. In fact, I think many have been entertained and encouraged by the crowd’s response. What else can you do? It is pretty amusing.
Even Sergio Garcia has been playing to the vocal fans. (I know, I’m just as shocked.) The past few days I’ve seen him laughing and joking around with them. During his third round on Sunday, I heard a drunken fan yell, “I raise my beer to you, Sergio!” He chuckled and said something like, “Only if I can pour it over your head.” Wait, what? Serg has a sense of humor all of a sudden? It appears that way (and it’s nice to see for a change).
And while I camped out behind the fourth green during the final round on Sunday, I could tell the players were having a good time and getting a kick out of the crowd’s drunken antics. By late afternoon, you can bet that most fans were a dozen beers deep – at least. They started doing the wave – it was a riot! When Matt Bettencourt drained his birdie putt, the crowd roared. He waved graciously and tipped his cap, and then he threw his ball into the stands. Fans started chanting, “Throw it back, throw it back!” Johan Edfors, who was in the following group, did the same thing – this might have been the play of the day – a spectator with a stogie in his mouth made the grab.
Were we at a baseball game? It felt like it, and it sure has been fun – I’ll take a leap and say the past week or so has been the most fun I’ve ever had at a golf tournament. Despite the dumb comments and “heckling,” the atmosphere has been absolutely amazing. They’re vocal, but in my opinion, not out of control. It’s certainly made the viewer experience more interesting. And for those of you who have been watching from your couches, don’t lie – it looks like a great time.
I’m heading back to the Black for the remainder of the final round on Monday. Without a doubt, the crowd will be fired up for one more day of golf and the cheers will be louder than ever – I’d expect and hope for nothing less.