Come on, guys! Can you two at least pretend to look a little happier for the ten-thousandth picture you were posing for? Kidding. There wasn’t a dull moment on Wednesday. Seriously.
First things first, I sincerely apologize for the dreadful quality of most these pictures. I currently don’t have a working camera other than the one on my phone (which totally sucks). The crappy BlackBerry camera fails to capture the essence of the course. (I’ll try to find one to borrow this weekend.) I’m even more sorry I failed to get a good picture of Natalie Gulbis, wearing an ultra-short neon pink skort. Wild guess, but I feel like you guys (at least those who are into super blondes with nice legs) would have enjoyed that. No?
The night before Christina Kim told me she was teeing off at 7:20AM. Naturally, I cringed. When I woke up at 6:30, I was surprised I didn’t hear the pitter-patter of rain drops crashing onto my air-conditioner. I opened an eye slowly and just saw lots of clouds. Thank God. It’s not that I can’t handle a little rain (here’s proof and I grew up in Seattle), but clearly I was concerned the Pro-Am would be washed-out.
Luckily at the last minute, I was able to grab a Zip Car (most amazing, convenient service if you live in NYC), and I zipped up to Hamilton Farm much too quickly than I should have (I’ll leave it at that). I showed up in time to walk the final five holes with her and John Paul Newport of the Wall Street Journal, who was carrying her bag for the day. There was a WSJ photog snapping pics of CK through the entire round. When I showed up, there were three photogs competing for her attention. Yes, she’s very popular.
Brendan Prunty of the NJ Star-Ledger, who walked with CK for most the round, told me one of the Pro-Am dudes cracked open his first Bud Light at 9:45. The same guy — in between gulps of beer — drained a 25-footer from the fringe on the 8th hole (their 17th; pictured below). Go figure.
CK wasn’t too thrilled with her play. She said, “I got all the bad shots out of the way.” That’s actually a good mentality. I used to hope to play poorly in practice rounds, so I could save the best for the actual tournament. As expected, a few F-bombs were muttered under her breath. But thing is, she releases her frustration quickly and gets over it even quicker, which I find more constructive than letting it pent up and fuming quietly.
Per usual, she was more than gracious to the fans, volunteers and her fellow playing partners. Seriously, it would take her, like 30 minutes, to get from the 18th green to the clubhouse because so many people — ranging from fans, officials, media, players, randoms — stopped to chat with her. One fan had taken a great action shot of her on Monday and had already developed it for her to sign. She impresses me with how she is so obliging and genuinely friendly to everyone. (Too bad we don’t see more of that on the men’s side. I guess there’s always Phil.)
As for the course, Hamilton Farm is absolutely beautiful. I’m dying to play there now. It looks like my “type” of course — traditional, generous fairways, undulating, etc. I’ll leave the course design spiel for the experts. I chatted with a few players for their thoughts. After a full day of torrential downpour, the course was wet, but it not as bad as you’d expect. I mean, I walked five holes in the fairway and rough, and my feet stayed dry. But some ladies mentioned it played long because they weren’t getting any roll off the tee. It’s supposed to be 80 on Thursday, so I expect it will dry quickly.
Rookie Beatriz Recari (who I absolutely adore after interviewing her; stay tuned!) told me the greens are the toughest part of the course. They’re all very undulating and tricky with lots of double-breaks, but were a little slow in the Pro-Am because of the rain.
A few fantastic holes — if you’re attending the tourney and want a place to camp out — are the 12th and 15th. Most matches should get to 12, a 178 yard par-3, which will be an advantage for the longer ballstrikers. A lot of matches should reach the 15th, too, which is a tough, long par-4 with a small green. Christina expects par will be good enough to win that one in many cases.
Meanwhile, an iPad was waiting for Christina in her locker when she finished her round. She was clearly very excited.
Here’s the gift the Pro-Am participants received. Not bad, huh?
Finally, maybe my favorite shot of the day. Loved catching the flex on that swing by Beatriz.