You know those “quaint” roadside motels you see in horror films, where a young woman is staying by herself in a pseudo-secluded area and when she’s in the shower, a serial killer, who happens to run the place…? Yeah, like that movie Psycho. I’m just trying to set the scene for you as I burn the midnight oil in an eerie Bates Motel-esque room. Well, now that’s out of the way, I’m going to summarize my day as quick as possible because I’m waking up at 6AM. Theoretically.
I spent most the day trawling the practice areas like I mentioned earlier — because, well, I like watching the pros practice. I could sit at the range for hours and just observe the guys hitting shot after shot (yeah, true golf geek alert). Oh, of course, I first checked into the spacious media center.
It was the standard scene — you know, “fat, old white guys in khakis…who eat ice cream bars at 10AM,” said Golf.com’s David Dusek on our ride back from the TaylorMade-hosted media outing with Dustin Johnson.
Amusingly taken aback, I asked, “Um, can I quote you on that?”
“Yeah, go for it,” he replied.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you! In defense of all parties, David was obviously being a tad facetious.
Anyway, I was trying to get my bearings before the tournament started and I usually begin in the practice areas — Monday is always a good day to try and snag players for impromptu interviews, etc., but the atmosphere was more intense than usual even for a major championship. Or maybe it was just more crowded than it was on Monday at Bethpage last year.
As I walked out to the practice green, I passed by the first hole and who did I see walking down the first fairway? Michael Putnam! His brother, Andrew Putnam, qualified as an amateur at the sectional in Sacramento. Oh, why was I excited to see Mike? Well, we grew up playing junior golf together and took lessons from the same swing coach, Joe Thiel, and I hadn’t seen him in, oh, nearly a decade.
There were hugs, how-have-you-beens and great-to-see-yous, etc. I’m planning on catching up with his brother on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Moving on. Another run-in! This time with Kent Eger, a Canadian Tour player who qualified at the sectional in Portland. I mentioned last week that I was looking forward to seeing him again. I met him around two years ago at the CanTour Championship (which was also right after I decided I wanted to pursue this golf media thing and brought a Flip camera to the tourney). I may have scared him when I excitedly yelled, “Kent! Remember me?!” It took him a second.
We chatted about, you know, what he’d been up to in the last two years. His caddie, Michael (Mac) Macauley, is a local guy, so it was interesting discussing the course setup and tournament preparation with him. Stay tuned for those interviews on Tuesday. But I’m hearing “firm and fast” and “perfect condition” from a lot of players/caddies. Kent also said he didn’t want to call it “tricked-up,” but mentioned it was “quirky” and “finesse shots” are key.
On Monday it was on the chilly side and foggy until the late afternoon, so the course was (obviously) playing softer. If it gets warmer, expect scores to be at least two strokes higher, I hear.
Kent and Mac were kind enough to give me a ride to Poppy Hills, where I was interviewing Dustin — it was quite lucky actually because earlier I was just planning on hitchhiking or something. Here’s the player’s parking lot — they’re cruising in Lexus SUVs this week.
Kent and I reminisced about the candid interview I did with him when he was drunk at a bar after he missed the cut. Eventually, he asked via our mutual friend that I take it down because, well, it was like one of the first hits when you Google his name. Apparently a girl he went on a date with actually came across it when she was doing her homework on him. Hilarious! We had a good laugh over it.
Okay. I’m rambling. I’m tired. A wise man once told me, “It’s all about pacing yourself.” If I knew what was good for me, I’d do a better job of heeding his advice.
Classic. (In case you couldn’t tell, that’s Ricky Barnes.)