PGA Tour rookie Chris Wilson and his caddie Adam Ellison take a moment to show off their synchronized chipping act in the practice area at TPC River Highlands on Saturday.
Unfortunately, Chris missed the cut, but he was getting in some practice before heading down to New Jersey to see his swing coach. I had a good time hanging out with them Friday night when we had our brush with greatness. Just to preface this, try not to get too jealous.
I was meeting Jerry Foltz and his buddies for dinner and drinks, and I dragged Chris and Adam out with me. When I showed up, Jerry was predictably with Kraig Kann, but he had also brought along — wait for it — Craig Perks! Yes, that Craig Perks! The 2002 PLAYERS Champion!!! (The fifth major!)
As you can imagine, it took me a second to get a hold of myself. But I did and that was that. Nice guy.
Moving on in bullet point format!
*At about 10:30 a group of caddies and player(s) rolled in to the bar restaurant. Randomly, it included one I knew (and I’m friendly with like five caddies) — Shay, Matt Jones’ caddie. We caught up, small talk, small talk. He said what everyone else is saying about the course — that low scores aren’t hard to come by, “it’s there.”
*Justin Rose’s looper, “Fooch” (Mark Fulcher), was also with them and he’s friendly with Chris Wilson because Chris has played with Justin a few times. Fooch was basically talking about how far Justin’s game has come and how much he’s learned in the past year and a half. In his finishing holes on Friday, Justin turned to Fooch and said something like, “Tomorrow we just gotta remember we start on the 37th hole of a 72 hole tournament.” In other words, he’s not thinking about his lead or getting ahead of himself — which he might have done in the past — rather he’s reminding himself to stay patient and in the moment because a lot can happen in 72 holes. See, the interesting tidbits you can pick up on at a bar.
*I already wrote about going to the set to watch the Golf Channel’s pregame show. Thanks again, guys!
*I hung out and watched Wilson practice for a bit. He and his caddie, Adam, think the 13th hole will play a more crucial role than it’s been heeded. In fact, Adam went as far to say that the tournament will be decided by how people play 13. Hmm…Justin Rose’s only bogey in 54 holes happened on 13. It’ll be interesting to see what pans out tomorrow.
*I walked with Ryan Moore and Carl Pettersson for most of the back nine. Again, it was another hot and humid day. Ryan was playing really well on the front nine and then a double-bogey on the 10th cost him. And then he missed a lot of putts. He seemed frustrated afterward…
*I said hello to Rickie Fowler and introduced myself to his caddie, Joe Skovron, who I share some mutual friends with. While Rickie and his playing partner, Michael Sim, were in the scoring tent, I talked with their caddies about the course. Sim’s caddie called it soft, which Joe explained to me meant “easy.” Yes, it’s also soft because it’s kinda wet. And as you can see from the scoreboard, going low is very possible if the putter is rolling.
*I had a quick chat with Rickie. He said he hit 16 greens, but couldn’t get any putts to drop. He hit just about everything to 20-ish feet, “not close enough.” He seemed kinda uninspired by the round — which I understand — it was 16 pars and two birdies. His swing looked real good from the two holes I saw, so I guess I was surprised he didn’t go lower. When I mentioned the US Open, he said it would have been fun to play in it and he played Pebble the week before. And then he went to sign autographs for at least 15 minutes.
*PS– Sorry, ladies. Rickie is still going strong with his girlfriend, Alex Browne, who is here this week.
*Took a break to watch the last 20 minutes (and the playoff) of the US vs. Ghana game in the clubhouse. Heartbreaker.
*Biggest story line? Aside from the possibility of Justin Rose winning two in a row? Um, just great scoring conditions — translation: the course is easy, especially if you’re coming from grinding it at the US Open last week. Some players that shot under par said they felt like they shot a bunch over par (it looked like that, too). I think it really just comes down to who has a hot putter (yeah, I know, doesn’t it always?) on the poa greens. But the wind can sneak up on you in the finishing holes, which are lined with water hazards practically from tee to green.
*Another pretty mellow day. But I must say it’s a really well run tournament. The organizers are super helpful and friendly. We even get media gifts every day from Travelers. Woohoo!
*In case anyone is watching golf over soccer and/or tennis this weekend, I’ll be back tomorrow. Otherwise, the AT&T National is next week and Tiger is playing, so people will actually care.