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Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
He wrote for an online golf publication and drove from event to event in his car (sleeping in it where necessary) and ended up at the Masters in Augusta back in 2010. I met him there during the Wednesday practice round. His goal was to write a little differently than any other golf writer.

This thing is huge and I figure this is the perfect time for you guys to read it with nothing else going on.

Waste Management Phoenix Open – Thursday, February 25, 2010

Anticipation and Anxiety

I feel so gross. After sleeping in my car for most of last week and for a couple days so far this week—last night being my first night back in a tent—I think the golf shirts I have hanging in my car have absorbed some of the smells I’ve brought in from the golf course, as well as any of the other wonderful smells that have been gathering in my car as of late. So the last couple of days I find myself sniffing—often—while I sit in the media center, wondering if I totally reek and could potentially turn off some of my newfound cohorts.

What makes this concern quite prevalent in my mind is the fact that the media center is underground, in the same area that normally houses all the carts and golf bags for the golf course. Having worked in several bag rooms in my life, I know how unforgiving odors can linger much longer in an area such as this, especially when it rains. To combat the smells and make myself more approachable, I’ve been caking on the deodorant and spraying myself with cologne, which for all I know could be even MORE offensive than some of the BAD smells I feel are wafting off of me. But hey: I’m making the effort here, people.

I’m glad I got here on Monday, because finding this media center and getting some sort of “routine” down for this week has really been a chore. When I left Marana and the Accenture Match Play, I was given bad directions and actually started heading in the opposite direction towards Tucson before I decided that I might get a second opinion. Besides that, while I was in Marana, my media credentials were sent to New York, which meant I was going to have to “talk my way” into the front gate, and I didn’t even have a good idea of where the media parking lot was.

Once I finally figured everything out, the course was another matter altogether. While the massive hills on the sides of each hole are great for “framing” purposes, as well as to provide natural grandstands for optimal viewing, they really suck to walk and I foresee people tossing their cookies after a few of the forced up-and-downs. The ropes guarding the players from all of US are also hard to get used to. You could be standing by a tee box for 10 minutes, watching players tee off, and then start to walk down the fairway and the volunteer will just stand there with the rope and not let you through. Then, just as he feels you’re getting a little impatient, he’ll turn and say, “Oh, by the way—you have to go all the way can’t cut through here.”


The volunteers here are hit and miss, too. I suppose you get that everywhere, but I’ve really only run into two kinds of volunteers: individuals that are just psyched to be here, and volunteers that loathe the ground drunks walk on. The latter are all like ex-bartenders, grizzled from years of fighting to close down a bar after last call. I’d say most volunteers are really nice, but I had an experience last night that made me feel like a criminal.

I was the last person to leave the media center. I suppose that’s going to happen at just about every event, but I am moving up in the world, as my tent is currently situated right next to an 8 X 12 foot pool in an RV park just east of Glendale. It’s really a cute place, and I have three metal clotheslines next to me where I can hang my clothes. Oh, and there’s a bathroom with showers right there too that actually locks. I tell you, some people just know how to live right.

So for the past couple of days I’ve been hearing about this massive party tent that the Thunderbirds— the organizers of this event, who wear clothes that resemble something Christopher Columbus would have worn from the belt up—have erected. It’s called “The Bird’s Nest.” Apparently, my media credentials mean that the $25 entry fee is waived, and it’s supposed to be a huge party every night. So last night, after finishing a couple of articles for Universal Golf and pre-gaming with a couple of beers, I dropped off my backpack in the car and walked over. I mean the “Nest” is RIGHT next to the parking lot.

I’d say the only memorable thing about my experience there last night was when I walked to the entrance and one of the ticket sellers—a jock who looked as though he had lost the State Championship for his High School in ‘94—said: “No media.”

“You know, that makes sense to me. I’m sure there are a lot of things in there that you wouldn’t want people knowing about.” At least I was still pretty quick. The other ticket seller—your stereotypical blonde “Scottsdale girl” I’ve heard so much about—just laughed. The dude acquiesced.

“I’m just kidding. Go straight ahead to General Admission.” I would find out later why he selected to use that wording, because my media credentials don’t give me access to the VIP section. Now THAT’S probably where the real news is happening.

The cover band looked and dressed like Poison and rocked out to whatever the crowd wanted. Girls danced on either side of the stage, trading off with other girls every so often. Men were everywhere, standing in place like zombies, staring at the stage, doing and saying nothing. I think the only female I saw—aside from the dancers and all the girls serving drinks at the bar—was one 40+ year old plastered out of her mind and dancing backwards. I knew it was time to go.

But because I hadn’t had any dinner, I was a little tipsy from the beer I had in the Nest after the beers I had imbibed in the media center. So, I thought it would be a good idea to head back to the media center and talk with Amy, the girl who was assigned to sit underground from 6 pm to 6 am, just to make sure the laptops stayed where they were. I had started talking with her a few days ago and she was just good company—she is obsessed with English Bulldogs and has started a 501(c)3 to care for and shelter abused or abandoned dogs. So I figured: I’m tipsy, and after 30-60 minutes talking with her and some water, I’ll be fine to drive.

Well, of course the security guards are going to be suspicious of me going back in when they’ve already locked down the media center (they do this to keep out the crazies at night). So I gave them an excuse:

“I think I left my laptop charger down there. I’ll be right back.”

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
So they radioed down and Amy let me in. She was happy to talk, as she probably gets pretty bored just sitting on a computer alone for 12 hours. After about 20 minutes, I decided to make another run for some of the dried fruit that had been laid out earlier. Just as I was going to walk back to my seat to continue the conversation, I hear a male voice.

“What are you doing down here? They said you were looking for your laptop?”
Wow, they communicate quickly with each other out there. “It was my laptop charger.” “And so you decided to come down here and get some food?”

“Well, yeah.” I’m sure this looks pretty bad.

“Look, you need to leave. Who are you?”

“Oh, my credentials are on the table.”

After I showed him my credentials, he whipped out his phone and started texting. “Tom...Collins. And where are you sitting?”

Am I going to be reported or something?

“Right here.”

“Alright, we’ll let you know if we find it. But leave now.”

“Alright. See you later, Amy.”

“Bye, Tom.”

I understand why the guy behaved the way he did, and I suppose this is valuable information for tomorrow when I try to sit on the 16th hole and get rowdy with the other 10,000 people, but I still thought the guy was a jerk. Or, maybe I’m getting all spoiled with my media credentials and my tent by the pool. Did I mention the metal clotheslines? BALLIN’!

One other thing worth noting was a phone call I heard Mark Williams make. He works for the PGA Tour, and I’ve had the pleasure of speaking / working with him at Turning Stone, the Farmers Insurance Open, and the Accenture this year. He often conducts the formal interviews in the press room with the leaders from each day. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but he had to speak louder on the phone and talk a certain way to be clearly understood by his young son.

“You learned to ride a bike today? Without training wheels? Oh, I’m so proud of you. Yes, you’re becoming a big boy. I miss you so much. Oh, okay, put mommy on the phone. But I’m so proud of you. I love you. Yes. I love you.”

Then his wife got on the phone.

“Oh, you video-taped it? Can you e-mail it to me? I’d love to see it. Yes, I hope to be back home soon. Take care. Love you. Bye.”

There was something about this exchange that choked me up. I’ve seen how hard this man works, yet due to the nature of the tour and all of the weeks on the road, Williams is no doubt missing some very special moments with his family.
Also on Tuesday, Charlie Hoffman came into the interview room, and that reminded me of something Billy had said at Riviera. As a new member of Tim Clark’s posse, I felt it was my duty to introduce myself to Charlie and verify some information I had received. So after he was done with the interview and walked over to the PGA Tour’s table to do whatever it is players do there, I found my opportunity.



“Hey, I’m Tom. I’m a member of Tim Clark’s posse.”

“Yeah?” He had a huge smile on his face, almost like he was about to laugh.

“Anyway, I just wanted to verify something I had heard about you and Timmy. Is it true you guys are competitive when it comes to Mario Kart?”

“Oh my gosh. Super-competitive. It’s all we do. I’m actually going over there tonight to play him.” “Well that’s great to know. It was great meeting you.”

“Oh yeah. What was your name again?”


“Tom? Alright. I’ll talk to you later.”

Although I’m sure that Charlie’s hair should’ve been my first clue that he’s a down-to-earth, approachable guy, meeting him in person and seeing that smile on this face is almost too funny for words. This has to be the most approachable tour player out there. His smile almost makes you feel that YOU are the celebrity, and that he is even more nervous than you are during the conversation. I’m laughing just thinking about it. I already love that guy.

During Hoffman’s interview on Tuesday, I also got to speak with the typist for the PGA Tour. She transcribes all of the interviews like a court reporter. I only bring this up because that “typewriter” is the craziest thing you’ve ever seen. There aren’t any letters, and the keys are arranged in three rows. The keys themselves look like thumbs, and when you watch the typist work, it’s like Phantom of the Opera. It looks more like someone playing a mini piano than your normal “home row” rata-tat-tat on a QWERTY keyboard. The woman didn’t even seem to be moving her fingers that quickly. She would later tell me that certain keys or combinations of keys produced different words or phrases, and she can type well over 320 wpm. I want one of those.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 4:52 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
Oh, and the final worthy notable is that the “Thunderbirds” count the number of people in attendance at the Waste Management Phoenix Open thusly: they multiply the number of cars in the lots by 3.2. So that’s how they figure out those astronomical numbers you hear on television—like over 110,000 on a Friday. But that makes sense: who would want to stand there with a clicker and count to 110,000? Your thumb would fall off.


When I came in this morning, I knew I wanted to follow Ian Poulter and Phil Mickelson during their back nine because of something Poulter tweeted last night: ”Do you think I should rock the pink pants tomorrow with Big Phil, I’m sure the crowd at 16 will have something to I dare, hell yes”

The only problem was, they were teeing off this afternoon, and I didn’t want to sit and wait. So I decided to follow Justin Rose, Rich Beem, and Nick O’Hern, who went off first thing.

By the time Rose and company finished, I’d have time to eat lunch and do some writing before going out to join Poulterand Mickelson, who would be playing with Ryan Palmer today. By the time Poulter and company reach the 16th the crowd should be well lubricated.

I caught up with Rose’s group on the 7, and I recognized Rose’s strut immediately. His shoulders swivel with each step, giving his gait a distinctive and confident look. I’ve already perfected the walk myself, should the opportunity ever present itself to use it someday.

All three players were at even-par, and if Kenny Perry’s statements were correct yesterday—saying that 16-under would probably win this event—this group needs to throw up three or four birdies to stay in contention.

A family sat to my right, the parents in chairs drinking their “adult drinks” and their two young boys both on their knees peering out at the green just below the rope line. As soon as Rose’s caddie set the bag down near the family while Justin looked over his upcoming putt, the caddie reached into the bag and threw one ball to each young lad. He threw them rather hard, come to think about it. Those two boys are future Baseball Hall of Fame catchers.

O’Hern had put his tee shot in the greenside bunker, and he was unable to get the ball up and in, leading to a disappointing bogey. But hey: at least I found another lefty on the tour, which is the equivalent of a Where’s Waldo out here. Beem and Rose made par, and we moved to the 8.

Justin creamed his tee shot, and an older gentleman standing next to me started mumbling, “That’s better...that’s better, Justin Rose.”

Is this guy married to that witch with the poisonous apples in Snow White? Rose had heard him and stared back at us as he sheathed his driver. Hey, Justin? It wasn’t me. But Mr. Witch didn’t discriminate: he mumbled at each player as they teed off. “Perfect! Perfect Beem! Fine, O’Hern. That’s fine.” He enunciated each sentence with a forceful spit onto the ground. Was he a baseball coach?

On the 8th, Beem had left himself a chip from just off the back-left of the green. I stood looking right down his line, and he was aimed a good 10 feet left of the hole. From where I stood, the line to the hole looked pretty damn straight. Where are you going with this, Beem?

Beem hit a solid chip, right on his intended line, and the ball didn’t move an inch to the right. He waved his arm, clarifying for all of us that yes, he thought the ball would move way right, and no, he’s not stupid. Rose, on the other hand, rolled in a long birdie putt from the front of the green.

But that wasn’t the end of it: Rose birdied 9, 10, and 11 too.

On 13, Rose got home in two and two-putted for birdie. At that moment, I started thinking that if Rose took the first round lead, he would definitely be in the interview room. That meant I could finally ask him a question I had wanted to ask since Turning Stone last year. Just before his pre-shot routine, he used this drill where he extenuated a downward movement with his body into the ball, which looked more or less like he was squatting as he neared the impact position. I had seen him do this even as recently as Riviera, but so far today I hadn’t seen him do it. Was his swing finally where he felt it needed to be? Was this confidence translating into more birdies today? As I walked, I started reviewing the way I wanted to ask the question in my head, just in case Justin paid the reporters a visit this afternoon.

Beem three-putted the 13 , only further proving my theory about his difficulties with green reading today.

After checking out the solar-paneled waste compactor on the 14th tee, I saw Rose blister another drive, sending his ball a good 30-40 yards past both Beem and O’Hern. Rose would say later that he’s using a new driver this week, and I guess it’s working like a charm. After I walked behind the green to watch Rose’s approach shot, I lost the ball in the air. A moment later, the ball landed and stopped 10 feet from the pin.

I jumped.

“Holy crap!” Then I noticed the older woman in front of me. “Oh, sorry.”

She was laughing. “No, that was a perfect reaction.”

From there, I moved behind the green up onto another steep slope that forms a natural grandstand for patrons, many of whom were lounging on their chairs with a perfect view of the green. Two older gentlemen were sitting on “Waste Management” cardboard chairs – that I suppose they received at the front gate. I had to admire the fact that they were actually using them, and had unfolded them correctly, because I had seen so many patrons fight to unfold these things like they were origami balls or Chinese finger-traps. Nobody could figure out how to unfold them so that the cardboard would a) support them and b) actually be comfortable. I saw one lady fight with hers for 10 minutes before I started walking in a different direction. I wonder if she a) succeeded in figuring it out or b) jammed the thing up her arse and took her chances on comfort.

Rose missed his birdie, and I rolled back onto the grass in agony, unknowingly getting dead brown grass stuck on the back of my shirt and hat.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 4:56 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
Number 15 is a par-5 with a water hazard on the left that comes into play for your tee shot and each of your approach shots, and there’s a small creek cutting in front of the green in an attempt to deter players from going for it in two. About 50 yards in front of the tee box and just before the hazard is a beautifully etched “drop zone,” and I think the words are even in a nice italic font. The problem is, I think you’d have to be Charles Barkley to actually use that circle for relief. If you’re going in the water off of the tee, you’re crossing over land WELL ahead of this drop zone. Maybe it was just there for the pro-am, where the men are men and the sheep are nervous.

While O’Hern and Beem played safely on their second shots, Rose unsheathed his 3-wood. Just as he was about to strike, two guys in a cart from a path up on high raced across the gravel. They didn’t even look at the course to see if anyone was about to hit a shot. But why would they? They have places to go and people to feed beer. Rose had to back off, which made me nervous because he had seemed so confident prior to the interruption. Unfortunately, the resulting shot mirrored my concern as it just barely cleared the hazard—by one yard. But, regardless of the awkward lie right next to the water, Rose was able to etch another birdie. It reminded me of his final round on #14 during the Children’s Miracle Network Classic last year, where he just barely cleared the hazard after killing a 3-wood out of the trees on the right to keep himself in contention.

When I went to the 16th in the afternoon on Wednesday after the pro-am, the Thunderbirds had put three massive speakers in the middle of the hole, blasting music, and the fans, along with celebrities like Alice Cooper, were taking turns trying to hit the green. Steve Sands was the emcee, and just as I walked in I heard him asking the crowd: “What do you think? Should we let her hit one more?” The wobbly woman laughed, took a practice swing, and then sliced the ball up into the corporate boxes, where a guy with a beer in his hand tried to catch it. The combination of the music and the fans gave me goose- bumps. It reminded me of tailgating at a football game or an outside rock concert. Yet this is on a single hole of golf. I couldn’t wait to see what the 16th had to offer the rest of the week.

The 16th was mellow when Rose’s group took the tee, even with a tremendous shot from Rose, who landed the ball just over the false front and left himself 10 feet for birdie. Rose made par, and the crowd remained quiet, despite the opportunity to “boo” his missed birdie opportunity. This hole has to be more active when Mickelson and Poulter come through.

Rose chipped it close on his second at the short par-4 17 , and knocked in another birdie to move to 7-under for his day. That’s pretty incredible, considering he started the day with a bogey.

But, after a rogue spike mark knocked his ball offline on the 18th green, Rose three-putted and finished the day 6-under par, taking him out of contention for the interview room. At least for today. That honor would go to Camilo Villegas, who fired a bogey-free 62, his lowest round on tour so far. Apparently the Phoenix Open had given Villegas his very first sponsor exemption 4-5 years ago, and he’s been grateful ever since. He’ll never stop coming here.

During Villegas’s interview, the one thing I couldn’t help but notice was the massive Red Bull he was sipping on. I’m a caffeine super-freak, and the sheer volume of liquid jitter in that bottle scares me. I had seen him with the same bottle last week at Accenture, and I remembered thinking there’s just no
way you can drink that much caffeine and swing a golf club in a consistent fashion. After each sip, he set the can back on the table, carefully positioning the logo so it was centered and clear for all of us and the cameras to see. Oh I get it—you must be sponsored by Red Bull, right Camilo?

After lunch and some writing, I caught up with Poulter, Mickelson, and Palmer as they were teeing off of the 12th hole. Then I started swaying. Over the last day or so, I was thinking that I might have an inner ear infection or something, because I just felt wobbly, like I was already a little buzzed. I would soon realize what it was: I was simply tired. I guess all those nights sleeping in my car and the short night of sleep in the tent last night were finally catching up with me. No wonder I’ve been having trouble focusing on things lately, and taking longer and longer to complete my writing.

The problem, however, was that I didn’t know what to do about it. I couldn’t leave, because then I would be pushing all of my writing onto the next day, and that wouldn’t work, because I was planning on having a few drinks and spending most of the day on 16. But I felt like I couldn’t stay, because I couldn’t even focus on all of the beautiful birds on the lake, who just happened to be wearing stilettos. Wow—where’s Camilo with that Red Bull? We could shotgun one together. I also considered trying to sleep on the massive slope to the right of the 12th green.

As a last resort, I made my way directly to the 16th and found a seat. I felt like the combination of the hot desert sun and a nice roar or two from the crowd would wake me up. Where I was sitting, nobody sat in front of me and I started dozing off. Then Aaron Baddeley’s father-in-law sat in front of me with family and friends, awaiting Aaron’s tee shot.

“Oh, I hope he sticks it. I’d love to hear this crowd cheering his name.”
Baddeley went a little long, and a loud “boo” erupted from the crowd. This woke me up a little, and I was able to notice that the crowd noise actually grew in intensity as players moved from the tee to the green. One of Aaron’s friends was seated next to me.

“Anything off the green gets an automatic ‘boo’ from the crowd. Anything worse than par gets a ‘boo.’ But boy, do they love to see birdies.”

As Aaron finished the hole, I noticed everyone in the stands behind the green stood up, begging for his ball or a ball from someone else in the group. Aaron tossed a ball up, and the people in the stands cheered like mad. Perhaps I should sit over there tomorrow. This side—to the left of the hole—is a little too calm for my taste. But what do I know at this point? I thought the birds to the left of 11 were wearing heels.

Just as I started drifting off to sleep again, Mickelson, Poulter, and Palmer finally arrived. The crowd behind the tee, composed mainly of corporate folks who had remained quiet thus far, erupted. In fact, the whole place went nuts. Some lady from one of the skyboxes above me started screaming, spilling her drink on the people below: “Ian Poulter! Oh my God, I love you!”

Guess the pink pants are a hit with the ladies.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:00 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
An announcer came on and introduced each golfer before they hit, and I was amazed at how loud the crowd got when Phil was introduced, and then how quiet the stadium became when he was about to hit. But, I learned that this crowd does not play favorites: Phil missed the green to the right, and the crowd booed him just the same.

From there, I drank 4-5 cups of coffee in an effort to wake myself up and write. I made an effort to start writing this section this morning, but threw it out because I had been writing it when I was half asleep and I hated the way it sounded.
Right now, however, I’m putting the finishing touches on this segment from my car, because I believe I did in fact piss off the night security supervisor with my whole “laptop charger” excuse last night.

Mark Stevens, another PGA Tour representative right alongside Mark Williams, was finally relaxing and watching some basketball two tables ahead of mine. I was busily typing away, trying like hell to leave, when a night security guard walked in. I hadn’t seen this one before.

“You guys have to pack up your stuff and get out, because we’re locking everything down.”

Mark flipped a switch. “Look, you get on the radio and call your supervisor. We still have someone writing here. This is a media center. You can’t just kick us out.”

“Well, I’m only doing what I’ve been told to do.”

“Just call your supervisor and tell him to give us another 15 minutes.”

With that, the young lad walked out with his radio to make the call. I didn’t say anything, but I started to type faster. After a few minutes, the guard came back in.

“What are your names, and who are you with?” Not this again.

“Mark Stevens, PGA Tour.”

“Tom Collins, Universal Golf.” Great. If that was the supervisor from last night on the other end of the radio, he’ll probably hear my name and come down again to say hello: “Oh my God, that a-hole again?”

I tried to focus on typing and watched the clock. When I turned, I finally noticed Amy, who had been seated behind me the whole time. She looked at me almost hesitantly, and her face said it all – I bet she got reamed by the security supervisor last night after I left, for aiding and abetting a fugitive or something.
I didn’t want to cause her trouble. Also, as nice as he was for speaking up, I didn’t want Mark Stevens putting his two cents in when I’m actually writing for myself. I mean what I’m writing right now is not going in tomorrow’s paper or anything. I soon packed up my laptop and my unfinished work, just to get out of there. When he saw me load up my backpack, Mark stood up to leave.

“Take it easy, Tom.”

“Hey, Mark. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it.”

So now, here I sit, typing these last few words in the darkness of Lot 6. Collective Soul is performing at the Bird’s Nest across the street, but I need to try to catch up on sleep and prepare for one hell of a day tomorrow.

Waste Management Phoenix Open – Friday, February 26, 2010 D-Day

10:02 am

In “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, one gets to read through the progress reports of Charlie, a mentally disabled patient undergoing surgeries to try and increase his intelligence. The book is extremely creative, as Charlie’s writing ability goes from elementary school level with poor sentence structure and misspellings to an eloquent graduate thesis level when the experiments hit their peak. Near the end of the book, Charlie unfortunately reverts and we see the obvious decline in his writing ability, but overall the book is definitely worth reading if you haven’t already done so.

I mention this because I’m hoping you, the reader, will find it in your heart to view the following piece of prose as a great creative writing experiment. I will be imbibing alcohol and my subsequent writing this evening may be a little weird. This won’t be like the aforementioned novel, because I think my writing will simply decline rather than improve at some point. But that’s all part of it.

If the last couple of nights are any indication, I will be forcibly removed from the media center by 8:30 pm this evening. This means, if you’re working backwards, I should probably come off the course around 5 pm to allow “ample” time to write. Working even further backwards, that means I need to start drinking alcohol around noon today to allow enough time to reach my own personal peak of inebriation.

I’m hoping all of this planning won’t hinder my creativity and spontaneity out there on number 16.

But this is the Waste Management Phoenix Open, people. I’ve never been out here, and I’ve been trying to do my best week in and week out to bring you, the reader, into the action. By not spending at least one day experiencing the 16th hole in all its glory, I am not fulfilling a promise I made to you when I started this whole thing.

So again, to summarize: by not drinking and spending most of my day on the 16th hole, I’m not doing my job. The logic is simple, yes?

So, let’s see what happens. Similar to Charlie, the following is my own personal “progress report” from the 16th hole at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.

5:19 pm

I think I’ve almost lost my voice. When I was sitting at lunch today, I met Michael Collins, a PGA Tour reporter for XM Radio. After finding out that he was a caddie, and that he has played the same course where Steve Marino and I used to caddie, he gave me one very valuable piece of advice: “If you’re going to the 16th hole, go and stand in the first section on the left. Those are my ASU boys that just love to Google information about players and I have to say... If I ever get fired, it’s going to be on that hole, with that group of guys, and you know what? I don’t care.”
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:03 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
But before I took his advice, I had planned it so that I would go back to my car to chug some beers. The cheapest beer you can buy here is $6.00, and I figure if I can chug a few before I hit the golf course, I’ll save valuable money I can use for other things. Every night so far, the media center provides a plethora of beers on ice for the media people, and because I’m the last one here, I have been sneaking one or two extra each night especially for today. So I already had four beers ready and waiting in my car when I got there.

As I walked to my car, I looked to my right and saw that a police officer was playing fetch with his K-9 fairly close to my cooler on wheels. Look, I have to drink these beers, so I was just hoping that the dog wasn’t trained to pick up on alcohol.

When I got to my car, I brought all four beers up front and took one at a time and wrapped a napkin from McDonalds around each one to disguise them should anyone walk by. I turned on some tunes and opened all of the windows so I wouldn’t be bored / baking in my car, and there was nobody around, so I thought it would all go off without a hitch.

Then some guy in a highly heterosexual white Dodge Charger pulled up right in front of me, stepped out slowly, and lit a cigarette. He had a Bluetooth on his ear, but he wasn’t talking to anyone yet. He was merely being a jackass and delaying my drinking time, standing there smoking his stupid cigarette. Another car pulled up with a few older ladies inside, and I started pretending to search around my car for something, acting like I had just parked and was getting things around to get out there. That idiot with the Charger and the Bluetooth was now on the phone, staring right at me, and after trying to waste some time constructively by spraying myself with a little cologne, I was running out of patience.

After 5 minutes, the older ladies had vacated the area but this idiot was still talking business on his Bluetooth. At this point, he’s wasting my valuable time, so I grabbed the beers and started chugging when his back was turned. When he finally decided to end his stupid conversation, I had just finished my last beer and was ready to head to the 16 . Thanks for taking your time buddy.

At this point, I couldn’t wait to get to 16. It was 12:30, and the place was mobbed, so once I walked near the clubhouse, the pace of my walk was no longer up to me. I was a part of the mob.

Near the 16 , there was a beer stand to my right, and I took full advantage. The only delay between me and my beer came when the girls at the bar asked that I consult some old guy who would check my ID and then give me a wristband, signifying that yes, I am good to go. This old guy, however, was currently flirting with two “Scottsdale girls” in their 20s, and wouldn’t stop flirting. It got so bad that I turned to one of the girls at the bar and pretended to stick out my chest and squeeze whatever cleavage I have together to try and get the guys attention. The girl laughed and motioned that she was already preparing my future beer, just so that I wouldn’t have to wait any longer. When the old guy finally had his fill of the ladies, he turned to me.

“Florida, eh? You’re my first Florida.” “Well, you never forget your first.” “Let me put this on your wrist for you.”

Please don’t. Oh, but he did. Damn it. Can I go now? When I was finally released, I was glad one of the bar girls had my drink waiting. The noise coming from the crowd at 16 made me feel bad for not being in the stands already, and I didn’t need another delay.

Walking up the ramp, you could feel the thunder. Today, the grandstands on 16 were packed, which even included the skyboxes. When I finally got my view of the mayhem, I looked to my left and saw my intended sitting / standing area, but it looked completely full. But I walked up anyway, and found a row of guys who were nice enough to say: “Oh, hey, there’s a seat right in here for you.”

Several rows below, ASU guys guided the crowd with various cheers—which at that time was: “USA! USA! USA! USA!” because Chad Campbell was on the tee with Fredrik Jacobsen and DA Points. After everyone teed off, the boys below tried to start a wave, which spread about 1/4 of the way through the stadium before it fizzled out. This “fizzle” was met with raucous “boos” from all of the ASU guys, and they tried to start another wave, which was again unsuccessful.
As players arrived and teed off, I noticed a pattern develop as the Heineken’s went down. Some of the following will be predictable, some not so much:

1. As players approached the tee, people went crazy.
2. As soon as each player was about to hit, the ASU guys all “shh-ed” the crowd to get everyone as quiet as possible.
3. At impact or just before in some cases, people went crazy.
4. A) If the ball landed anywhere off of the green, people “booed” like it was their job.
B) If the ball landed “too far away” from the flag, we all made the “safety” symbol over our heads and started screaming “safety! Safety! Safety!” Which I’m sure was just as bad as booing. C) If the ball landed close, everyone went nuts for a good 30 seconds while players walked toward the green.
5. While players were walking by us, everyone started shouting “tip your cap! Tip your cap!” until each player turned and did so. If they did, we all cheered. If they didn’t, what do you think? Boo!
6. When the scoreboard boy walked by, everyone started shouting “spin the sign! Spin the sign!” until the kid crapped his pants and did so.
7. Once players reached the green, everyone around me—including myself—forgot about who we just saw or who might be making birdie. That responsibility was now up to the crowd in the stands behind the green.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:05 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
8. Once the players and scoreboard boy walked past, the ASU guys spun around to the skyboxes above and would pick someone out of the crowd and order them—via peer pressure—to chug whatever they were drinking:

“Red shirt! Red shirt! Red shirt! Chug chug chug chug chug yeah!” “Sweater vest! Sweater vest! Sweater vest! Yeah!”

“Silver fox! Silver fox! Silver fox!” (to an older gent)

“That’s my mom! That’s my mom! That’s my mom!”

Those were the most noticeable patterns, and every so often people would walk by down below that would elicit a cheer from us. Some guy walked by with a “Canada” shirt on that got us all screaming like we were on Jerry Springer: “USA! USA! USA!”

Memorable moments with players throughout the afternoon included Mark Calcavecchia, who flew his shot over the green, to which we all responded with a loud “boo.” Calc calmly walked over to the edge of the tee to address us, pulled up a sleeve on his shirt, and flexed his muscle.

When David Toms hit the tee, everyone in the crowd started screaming “LSU! LSU! LSU!”

One of the funniest moments came next, because after Toms’ group walked by, everyone started passing out pieces of newspaper. I learned very quickly that everyone below hated Rory Sabbatini, so when he was about to tee off, everyone was supposed to turn and look the other way and pretend to read the newspaper. When Rory walked out into the open, the ASU boys booed him like never before, and that was the first and only time I heard a player booed before he even hit a shot. Sure enough, just when Rory was about to hit, 40 people turned and pretended to read the newspaper. I have no idea where Rory went, but when I finally turned, I saw some media woman with a camera snapping a photo of our exploits.

So far, even though the back left hole location looked easy enough to run a shot up close simply by aiming at the middle of the green, I saw a lot of shots off to the right, playing it safe. But when Martin Flores hit the tee, that all changed. He was playing with Jay Williamson, who got to the tee first and pulled out a camera, videotaping our section as we went crazy. The third member of the group was my favorite, Billy Horschel. Horschel and Williamson stuck it close, which of course we all loved, but when Flores hit it, the ball hit the flagstick and it didn’t even matter where the ball ended up. I was screaming until I felt like my lungs were going to cave, and everyone around me seemed to yell even longer. It was loud, and it didn’t stop.

At that moment, I’m sure the noise and enthusiasm rivaled a Ryder Cup crowd. All golf tournaments should be like this.

I remember looking up at the sky, and thanking God and sunny Jesus that there were clouds today. I had already caked on the sun-block, but with no clouds, I knew I was safe from skin cancer, at least for today.

Below, near the ASU guys, Steve Sands looked like he was playing beer pong with some of the guys in the crowd. He threw a ping pong ball into the cup of an ASU fan, and then gave the kid a look like, “Alright, I made gonna drink that or what?”

When Chris Stroud approached the tee, he did something that rivaled Happy Gilmore. Just before he stepped in to his setup to hit the shot, he turned to the crowd and started raising his arms, asking everyone to cheer for him while he hit. When a player does something like that, it doesn’t matter WHERE on the green he hits it—people are going to scream for him regardless. He ended up right of the flag, in an area that we as a group had already agreed was a “safe” area, and therefore open for the “safety sign,” but we disregarded that and cheered for him anyway.

After a few more “manly” Heineken’s, I started making fun of the girls in front of me with the Michelob Ultra’s in the plastic bottles.

“Hey, how are those Ultra’s treating you? Need a pacifier?”

“Oh, ha ha. Well what do you have there, a sippy-cup?”

It was a manly plastic Waste Management STEIN you stupid stupid girls. But I think I made my point. Who stands right here and simply talks with friends? You’re not going to comment on the golf at ALL? Stupid girls.

On one of my beer runs, I was held at bay from coming back into this magnificent mini Coliseum until players had finished hitting. I guess my media badge flipped around and became noticeable, and the guard told me I could keep moving. Three older women wearing clothing that SPELLED cougar followed closely behind me, and the guard called to me.

“Hey man, are they with you?”

I can’t believe he thought I was anyone important, but I’ll be happy to play along.
“Yeah, man.”

Just before I went up the stairs, one of the ladies grabbed my arm.

“Hey, thanks a lot. You know... we just used you. How does it feel to be used?”

“Pretty great, I have to say. This feels like a rock concert.” And with that, I went back to find my seat.

When Villegas came to the tee, even before he was able to tee up the ball, our entire section was screaming: “Yellow pants! Yellow pants! Yellow pants!” The fact that he hit the green was amazing to me.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:08 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
Once Brian Gay—another player with Villegas—hit the green, he and his caddie ran down close to our stands and started throwing head-covers with a plastic cover to people in the crowd. One of the guys behind me chuckled.

“Hey, does anyone want a Gay head-cover?”

With that, I said goodbye to a few of the fine gents near me and made my way back to the media center, just as the sun was starting to bake everyone’s forehead.

It’s hard to put into words just how fun the 16th hole is. Kenny Perry said earlier this week that some players will actually avoid this tournament altogether simply because of that hole. I think that’s a shame. For the PGA Tour, an organization that is no doubt looking for new ways to market themselves now that Tiger has become an unpredictable variable, I would see a hole like the 16th as a great way to show people that even if you’re not a serious golfer, you can still have a lot of fun on the course. As Perry said, the design of this golf course allows for an exorbitant number of fans (over 200,000 on Friday and Saturday combined historically) to view the tournament, with all of the massive hills that frame each hole. Perhaps the PGA Tour should push current and future golf courses to do a little renovating around each hole, rather than redo a green or a fairway simply because some of the players are complaining. Make tournaments more fan friendly, and I think more people will have fun.

Personally, I have two ideas: first, tailgating should be par for the course in the parking lots at each event, and second, they should have a line in the concession area simply for keg stands. That’s all I’m saying. Let’s say: $5.00 for 10-15 seconds? That sounds about right. Now, if drinking is not your thing, how about bringing smoothie bars on the course? And how about lowering prices a bit? If you want to charge $7.00 for a beer, then only charge like $10 for a daily ticket. You have to find a way to balance it.

But the 16th is something I wish every golfer could experience for themselves. It’s like every sporting event was combined with a backyard barbeque, and you’re just surrounded by noise. I didn’t meet one person that was rude or impolite in the least. These patrons were as well behaved as what I experienced at Augusta last year (aside from the noise) and that’s really saying something.
** I have to say that despite all of the alcohol—which definitely came through in a few spots above—I was still able to come up with some neat observations. My Editor, bless her soul, edited this section anyway (so I had to remove it and replace it with the original). My favorite side-bar comment from my Editor: “??? Must be the Heinekens.”

Waste Management Phoenix Open – Saturday, February 27, 2010

When the Stilettos Meet the Turf

When I walked into the dining area of the cart barn this morning I finally got a chance to congratulate John Strege on his writing award from the Golf Writers Association of America. He kept his head down while he thanked me, almost as if he were embarrassed.

“Thanks. I was really surprised myself, because it seems that the articles that win each year all deal with tragedy, or cancer, or something like that. But thank you.”

Just as I was about to walk back and check my e-mail, I overheard John say something to another writer that walked in: “Hey, did you hear what Woody told me yesterday? He said that 50% of the people at this tournament will never see a golf shot.” I’m sure that’s only an opinion, but even if it’s half true, that’s amazing – when you consider that more than 400,000 people walk the grounds over the course of the week.

When I got back to my seat, Steve Sands was on television. I couldn’t tell what he was talking about because they never have the volume turned up on the flat-screens in the media center. But when a couple of the PGA Tour representatives came in, they started laughing when they saw him on the screen.

“Man, do you think Steve went anywhere last night?”

“Man, he looks awful.”

After reviewing the tee times for the day, I decided to follow Alvaro Quiros, Mathew Goggin, and Tom Lehman for the first 9 holes, and then figure things out from there. The field this week really is spectacular, and the 16th hole really is spectacular, so I wasn’t sure what I’d want to pursue after lunch.

After passing a house party that had spilled out on to a lawn on the 2nd hole, with a large banner hung over early-morning partiers that read: “2 is the new 16,” I finally caught up with Lehman’s group as they were putting out. Lehman and Goggin both missed their up-and-downs—Goggin from the bunker and Lehman from just off of the green. I couldn’t believe that Lehman and Goggin hit their bunker shot / pitch so poorly that both results were still further away from the hole than Quiros’ approach shot. But, Quiros missed his birdie if that made the other players feel any better. Off in the distance, like a siren song through the morning breezes, I heard the ASU boys again on 16: “Sign boy! Sign boy! Sign boy!”

As I walked around to catch up with the players as they hit their second shots, a group of three young girls and a young guy carried neon-orange signs, each with a letter on it. Then a group of men passed me on the left, each with a beer in their hands. What is it, like 10:30 am? When do you boys start?
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:10 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
The 3rd hole at TPC Scottsdale is actually a good par-5, because it’s just long enough to leave a Tin Cup yardage for your second shot. The green itself is elevated and over a creek, and if you go right, you’re in a collection area with a difficult flop shot to hold the green, which looks to be one of the smaller greens on the course. Lehman laid up short of the creek on his second shot—a predictable smart play from the newly dubbed Assistant Ryder Cup Captain for 2010. Goggin tried to rip at it, and ended up left in the creek, but not to worry, because this is Arizona and that creek’s been dry for years.

Quiros, whose length off of the tee has spread far and wide to river and dell at this point, went wide right near the “creek” on the right side of the hole in the trees. From there, he took an iron—and frankly, it doesn’t matter what it was, just that it was an IRON—and hit a low stinger that ended up in the collection area on the right OVER the creek in front of the green. He was only slightly farther up than Goggin, who hit a WOOD, mind you, and Quiros cleared the creek with a freaking IRON.

Everyone made par, with Lehman hitting his safe approach within two-putt range, Goggin flubbing the crap out of his pitch from the “creek,” and Quiros predictably hitting his flop shot long to a pin tucked right against the bunker he had to clear.

To the left of the par-3 4, the steep hillside provides for optimal viewing, and if people weren’t walking by me with some sort of “adult drink” in their hands they were laying out blankets and lounging.

Another roar erupted from the 16 , making me jealous and antsy, wishing I was there already. One of the girls with the neon-orange signs stood right next to me, which I was really surprised at because there was nobody standing around us. She had her pick of the entire rope-line for the most part. So, I took the hint and decided to ask: “So what do the signs spell?”


How the hell do you spell “Tom”? There are four of you. I’m no Scrabble Champion by any stretch, but that’s messed up. Do you spell it “Tome” and make the “e” silent or something? Do I just need a few beers for it to make sense? But then I saw that the young lad had the sign with the exclamation point on it. Oh, now I see. So clever.

Although I hadn’t been able to see a close-up of Quiros’ swing yet, from where I stood on the 4th I was able to get a good look, simply because of his pre-shot routine. He stands behind the ball and takes practice swings that are perpendicular to the target line, staring down his upcoming shot. I thought that setup was a little weird, because I feel like this sort of pre-shot routine is only appropriate for putting. But, to each his own. I’m sure with his length a lot of these shots seem like putts. His swing looked somewhat abbreviated for his height and build, and you could just feel the full extension of his left arm, held perfectly straight on the backswing. No wonder he hit an iron that far on 3—he definitely knows how to torque it on the backswing.

The whole group made pars again, with two-putts all around. Quiros had a tricky downhill 15-footer for birdie that made a banana left down at the hole, and he almost missed it coming back. Part of me wished he did miss it, because this round had been a little too exciting for me thus far. I reasoned that the perpetual roars I kept hearing from the 16th reminded me of how much fun I had yesterday, and made me feel like once you get that sort of high while watching golf, a round like this just doesn’t “do” it for you until you re-acclimate yourself.

On the 5 , Quiros hit his first fairway of the day, blowing by Lehman and Goggin by a good 30 yards. I had my pin sheet handy, and used a nearby sprinkler head to pace off the yardage for Lehman and Goggin, who ended up right next to each other. Looks like 121 front, 141 pin. Lehman hit a peach of a shot in, which I would later hear from the Shot Link guy at the green that it ended up 1’1’’ away, and was the “best shot in all day so far.” Quiros also made birdie, but then again, he probably should have, being less than 100 yards in to an easy pin, located on a flat section on the right side of the green.

All week so far, I had been hearing on television and from media people around me that this course really is a bomber’s paradise, so I felt that if Quiros could actually keep it in the fairway off of the tee, he would probably win. What a monster.

On the 6 , Lehman’s drive ended up in the right rough, leaving a difficult approach shot to a pin tucked way left over the trap. The left side of the green is quite narrow, and out of the rough Lehman would have a hell of a time trying to stop the ball before it went over the steep bank on the back of the green into a collection area. Lehman opted for the fat part of the green right of the trap, and put his ball about pin high. Quiros, again 30 yards ahead, went right at it, but ended up just off of the green in the fringe left of the hole. Well, maybe Quiros won’t win this thing. He can drive the ball really far, sure, but his wedge game wasn’t taking advantage of his yardage off of the tee.

Standing high above the 6th green on another steep slope for patron viewing, I heard screams from the 16th again, loud and clear.

“Nice hit! Nice hit! Nice hit! Yeahhhhhhh!”

Man, that hole is so tempting. Lehman had a great two-putt from across the green and onto the upper tier, and the other two players made wonderful ho-hum pars as well. If it weren’t for admiring Lehman’s smart play, this round might be boring. That reminds me, though: just like Paul Goydos, Lehman’s game has stepped up after the nod from Corey Pavin. Maybe that boost of confidence was all that these guys needed.

Just before I moved to the 7th tee, I saw something inspiring. A tan girl with short jean-shorts (with frills) and a low cut top was trying to traverse the steep slope to get to her nice boyfriend with the super-spiky hair. He wasn’t HELPING her across, mind you, only waiting. Due to the slick flip-flops she was wearing, the dry, sun-burnt grass acted like grease, and she started sliding down the hill while she tried to walk towards him. She finally gave up, and crawled to him on her hands and knees up the hill until she reached the top and could walk safely.

What was truly inspiring about this moment was that they could easily have a downhill race—much like the Olympics, but with more alcohol and less training—with these gussied-up dames with designer flip flops next year. Maybe whoever has the fastest time gets a free pair of sneakers or something. But how much fun would that be to watch?
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:14 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
(As a quick aside, while I’m writing this, I just smelled myself—and it isn’t pretty. Perhaps skipping that shower last night is going to cost me tonight at the Bird’s Nest, where everybody and their mother parties like it’s 2010.)

All three players landed safely on the green on 7, but only Lehman was able to take advantage of it. He was farthest away at 25 feet, and when the putt dropped, the “Tom!” signs flew up and we all went crazy. The cheering here is a lot like a Ryder Cup, I’d imagine, except there’s a little more fermentation in the air. After picking his ball out of the hole, Lehman kissed it and acknowledged the girls to my left with the signs, who I’m sure were all part of his family.

As I walked to the 8th tee, I got really excited, because I saw some guy wearing a plastic beer helmet. I was wondering who would finally break the ice in that department. As Lehman set up to tee off on 8, the photographer off just left of the tee must’ve had a longer streak than me in the “not showering” department, and looked like he was swing dancing with his camera. Lehman backed off and cut in.

“Um, sir? Could you please stop moving?”

I love it. That guy has an enviable “inside the ropes” sticker and is behaving like a yam-bag who has never played golf before. GIVE ME THE PASSES INSTEAD. DAMN.

Lehman’s drive turned out fine, though, right up the gut. I was excited to finally get a good angle on Quiros’ swing, and I stood just above him on the hill and right down the line. It’s the sort of swing where you have to force yourself not to blink, otherwise you’ll miss it. My previous observations were correct—that the backswing and follow-thru are both abbreviated—but it was interesting to see his swing from my angle, as it reminded me of a more-upright version of Rickie Fowler, complete with a subtle loop into the downswing. It was a steep swing, no doubt matching his height (ahem, take note of THAT, Kuchar), and the ball went dead straight and relatively high, which I’m sure was also a by-product of a steep swing path. Once again, Quiros blew by both Lehman and Goggin by 30+ yards. The guy with the beer helmet behind me finally took the tube out of his mouth to comment.

“Huh. Uh-yuck!” That’s verbatim. This was Goofy if Disney allowed beer helmets.

Off in the distance, the crowd at 16 was heard loud and clear again: “USA! USA! USA!” It reminded me of my short time at the “Bird’s Nest” last night—for professional journalistic purposes, of course—seeing the group of t-shirts that read: “Wasted Management.” Sheer brilliance.

After Lehman hit his approach shot short right, I heard the 16th again, and because of my stint yesterday, I knew exactly how to translate the loud “Chug! Chug! Chug!” Those ASU boys had picked another victim out of the skyboxes above and were making him or her drink their face off. Ah, peer pressure.

After that massive drive, Quiros could only manage a wedge to the front of the green. Man—if Quiros keeps this up, he’s definitely not winning this thing. What good is all that distance?

When I walked up to the 9th green to watch everyone’s approach shots, Brandt Snedeker was just finishing up for par. The interesting thing, however, was that, as he set up his shot, the scoreboard behind him flashed a statistic: so far this year, from 3-5 feet, Snedeker is tied for 1st at 100%. I’m sure he isn’t looking at the scoreboard, but seeing that statistic as a backdrop for his seemingly easy putt certainly added something to it. I wonder how long he can keep the streak going.

Quiros hit his approach shot into the bunker, which almost made me laugh. Not trying to knock the guy, but he just can’t hit an approach shot to save his life right now. Behind me, the doors from the rows of porta-johns opened and closed like the British farce I saw at Torrey this year. A huge roar from the crowd erupted on 18, and I wondered how much of that noise originated from the Tilted Kilt, the Hooters-esque restaurant that has been following me since La Quinta.

A young girl walked by me wearing what I can only describe as a handkerchief, and when she sat down on the hill to my left with her ice cream, the young boy holding the neon-orange exclamation point for Lehman almost passed out.

Once again, all three players made pars, with Quiros making a nice up-and-in from the bunker. When I looked at the scoreboard, I saw that Scott Piercy was now at 13-under and leading the event. I had a feeling that might happen. So far, whether it was Turning Stone last year or the North Course at Torrey Pines this year, Scott Piercy has the ability to go extremely low during at least one round of a tournament to get himself into contention. He can also kill his drives—quite a good trait to have at TPC Scottsdale—and I would find out later today that he drove the ball 361 yards on the 10th, landing the ball 10 inches from the hole.

Getting through the beer / concession areas around the 10th hole was quite difficult today, and you had to find a current of people headed in your general direction in order to get anywhere. Everywhere I looked, I felt that the women who attended this event were all competing against each other for looks from the men with shorter and shorter skirts and shorts, lighter and lighter hair, tighter and tighter clothing, and taller and taller stilettos. I don’t think any of these girls planned on walking very far today. But I bet I’d be surprised at just how far some of them actually got before their feet cramped up and they started crying.

At lunch, I sat down next to a security guard in a red shirt. He greeted me with a “How are you today, sir?” and a smile, but I would find out very quickly just how focused and serious this guy is. Between bites, he was talking into his shirt microphone or ordering people around, and you could just tell this guy was a supervisor, if not THE supervisor for all of the security force here. I wonder if he’s already heard of me from my previous exploits over the past couple of nights.

When I heard him tell someone over the radio that he would be unavailable for the next 10 minutes, I decided to strike up a conversation.

“I just want you to know, I really respect what you do. I can’t even imagine the focus you must have to do this event. How do you do it?” I mean I’m having trouble focusing on WRITING, let alone trying to control this madness.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:17 pm

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Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
“Thanks. Yeah, this is definitely the hardest event I do. I’ve run two Super Bowls and an NBA All-Star game, and those are easy compared to this.”

“Why is that?”

“Well, the tournament runs all week long, whereas those events are just one day. And this tournament is known for drinking and craziness, so it’s hard to convince people to behave themselves.”

After lunch, when I went back to check my e-mail before deciding what I was going to do with my afternoon, a member of the media I hadn’t noticed before was talking to a few of the Waste Management representatives sitting next to me.

“Oh, today they’re pulling people out of the stands on 16 like crazy. So the crowd is a lot more...muted than normal. Yesterday was definitely the day to be there. It was nuts.”

Yeah, I was there. So does this mean I shouldn’t try to spend a little time on the 16th? Well, I think I should still head out there and see. From hearing all of the cheers and roars throughout my front 9 this morning, I couldn’t wait to spend some more time there.

Near the 10th tee in one of the many concession areas, a quaint little stand was advertising “Best Bloody Mary’s in the World.” Well, now that is just exactly why I’m sleeping in my car or in a tent. So I can save up enough money to spend the $7.00 and see if these guys are guilty of false advertising. Turns out they aren’t. I’ve had my fair share of Bloody Marys, and even worked as a bartender for 3 years. That was a damn good Bloody Mary. Not a lot of vodka—which I suppose is just good business for them—but that worked out perfectly for me, because I got to taste the nectar of the Gods and still keep my wits about me for the afternoon. For those that are curious: it was thick, slightly spicy, just a hint of Worcestershire Sauce, and rimmed with celery salt. Glorious.

When I walked by the 16, I immediately decided to avoid it. There were massive lines of people just waiting to get in. Today it looked like the entrance to an amusement park rather than a hole on a golf course. I found out later the interesting evolution of this hole: back in the early 1990s, there was a solitary beer stand on 16, which gave all of the college kids easy access to alcohol and a great place to sit—right on the hill behind the green. Soon enough, chanting began, then bleachers were put in to assist the college kids because the tournament directors liked the idea, and then after Tiger’s hole in one in 1997, the area surrounding the hole started to look more like Optimus Prime, with an intricate set of grandstands, walkways, and skyboxes, all completely closed off from the rest of the course, creating the Coliseum-esque feel to the hole as it exists today.

But, after seeing those lines, I decided I wanted to see as much golf as possible, not hear roars and look at porta-johns and miss most, if not all, of the golf for the rest of the day.

To the left of 15, children sledded down the hill using the Waste Management cardboard chairs. Just make ‘em flat, and have at it. It only gives more credence to my idea of the “Scottsdale Girl Downhill.”

Lehman’s group was just coming through at this time, and I followed them down the 15 near a couple of Shot Link workers just before the creek. As this is a par-5, most, if not all of the players would be laying up. Of course, Quiros is probably hitting a wedge or a putter for his second shot, but the rest of the field will probably lay-up.

I’m not sure whether Goggin meant to lay-up or go for it, but he went into the creek and elected to use the drop area in the middle of the fairway. After his caddie walked off the yardage, he positioned himself right near the edge of the circle, dropped the ball, and it came to rest right on the line. At this point, Goggin didn’t know what to do, and he threw his head back. He made a phone signal with his right hand and put it up to his ear, calling for a Rules Official. You have got to be kidding me. If he had done something like this on the 16 , he would’ve been booed for the rest of his life. The radius of that drop area had to be 10 yards, and you’re telling me you choose to drop right on the line? When the Official finally arrived, he was instructed to simply “play it as it lied” and Goggin knocked it stiff, to probably the most difficult hole location on the course—the hole was cut on top of a ridge back right, and the only safe play was short. Anything long was dead.

Well, what do you think Quiros did after bombing his second in the greenside bunker (probably with a wedge)? He went long, leaving a difficult up-and-down for par. Granted, he did make par, but still: Quiros, let’s work on those wedges, alright?

When the group arrived on the short par-4 17 , Quiros screwed up another chip, but because he had driven the ball right next to the green, he still made birdie. Lehman made a great birdie from about 20 feet, and the crowd went crazy, with the young lad and his exclamation point back in action after that terrible spill he had with the handkerchief girl on 9. This noise—even on 17—is incredibly loud. Makes those barking seals at Pebble sound like mouse farts.

Alvaro Quiros absolutely destroyed his tee ball on 18, and it was one of the prettiest drives you’ve ever seen. The vantage point that fans have behind the 18th tee is perfect, giving you a clear view of the entire hole as it leads to the massive crowd behind the green. The ball was easy to track against a clear blue sky, too, which made watching each player carry over the water hazard all the more spectacular. Quiros hit it high, and I would later find out that his “pretty” drive only stopped after 341 yards had been traversed. Granted, he could only manage par after an 85 yard wedge—to be expected at this point, I suppose—but still, what a fantastic drive.

I positioned myself just right of the green on 18, and four young girls with outfits that I was sure they changed into at a friend’s house AFTER leaving mommy and daddy, sat down on the grass next to me. One of the girls put her head in her hands.

“My feet are about to fall off.” These girls—what troopers. What resilience. They just keep marching on, working through the pain. They probably “never say die” too.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:22 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
The 18th hole is a great finishing hole, as it allows at least 10,000 fans to surround the green. It also contains skyboxes overlooking the green, which really adds something to the noise when you count the drunks over at the Tilted Kilt. Those boys overhanging the railing were probably the loudest and most offensive on the course. I wonder if there were ever any security guards over there this week.

“Nice shorts, you hottie!”

After I walked into the media centre, three things caught my attention. First, during the Rickie Fowler interview, I couldn’t help but notice that Rickie kept checking out his fingernails as he talked. Like the interview and subsequent questioning he received was either a formality or a waste of his time. He just didn’t seem interested at all. Then again, I know these players go through at least four interviews if they’re leading on a particular day, so maybe he was just tired of regurgitating canned responses.

The second thing that caught my attention was Steve Sands, who approached two PGA Tour representatives to get their three picks each for a $5.00 pool they were doing to see who could pick the winner. For some reason, I guess I didn’t see Steve Sands as a betting man. Then again, in the game of golf, who isn’t?
The third thing, and most importantly, was that I watched some of the broadcast today and saw the ASU section on the left of the 16th tee. I wondered: did all of them wear diapers today? The security guards were escorting all sorts of people out of there, whether due to rowdiness or just to bring new people in. How did these guys stay in one spot since 7 am this morning? Did they have people getting them beers?

Waste Management Phoenix Open – Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Hangover

This tournament is ridiculous. I don’t know how any of these reporters, commentators, media administrators, whomever, can produce any worthwhile news this week. Steve Sands looked like crap again on the television this morning. Last night, all of the guys running the media center looked like they had their watches synchronized, disappearing as soon as possible to head over to the Bird’s Nest where OAR was playing. I’m sure a sizeable percentage of the 121,221 people in attendance for the tournament yesterday were doing the same.

When I finished writing last night, it was 7:15 pm. I had become pretty good friends over the course of the week with a couple of the PR people who were in the media center for Waste Management, and one of them yesterday had joked that she would like to be my “wingman” at the Bird’s Nest. So I had to go, but because I finished up at the media center so late, I wasn’t going to have time to take a shower. I had quite the nice “manly” odor wafting off of me—that’s right, ladies, drink it in—and I started laughing, thinking about how early some of the other writers had left to get ready.

So changing for a big night out was “tricky”: I had to change in my car, stripping and re-dressing at timed intervals to avoid detection from the drunks either heading to or coming from the Bird’s Nest. Once that stage was completed, I had to chug the remaining beers in my car—once again, at timed intervals— to save on buying drinks and to make sure I had the courage necessary to dance my face off. The third stage was critical: deodorization. It started with the Febreeze, which I used quite effectively on my shoes because I couldn’t find that powder stuff to put the stank out. Then came the Old Spice, which I applied quite generously to cover up the calcified Old Spice from earlier. Finally, I whipped out the cologne, trying to find that delicate balance between covering up my smell and applying an amount even Fabio couldn’t handle. I decided the litmus test was to see how much I could apply before I started tearing up.

Ready or not, here I come.

The night didn’t start out as planned—the Bird’s Nest was absolutely packed, and I arrived at the front gate just in time to stare at horse’s asses. Literally. Four to six police officers on horseback blocked the entrance, and somebody on a megaphone was shouting: “Look people, you’re not making my job any easier! Just turn around and go home!”

The directions were clear enough, but I just had to ask the nearest police officer.

“Excuse me, sir?”


“So am I to gather that there’s no way of getting in, regardless of credentials?”

“Yeah. You need to leave.”

Now, I could have easily just given up right then and there and called it a night. But then I realized that tonight isn’t over until I say it’s over. When am I going to be in Scottsdale again? So I found the nearest blonde “Scottsdale girl” and started to get a consensus.

“Excuse me, but if the party isn’t here tonight, where is it?”

“You could go to Four Peaks. It’s not far. Just take the 101 South and take Frank Lloyd Wright and it’s right there.”

On my journey back to the parking lot, I queried a few more people, and most of them agreed that Four Peaks was the place to be. So I got in my car, got lost for about 40 minutes and hit another bar on the way—paying the toll of one drink just to get reliable directions, rather than “it’s right there,” off of the 101—and finally arrived at the Four Peaks around 9:30 pm. It’s a great little bar, with homemade microbrews, a draught called “Kiltlifter,” and the best Golden Tee setup I have ever seen. The trackball and controls were set a good 3-4 feet before a massive flat-screen television in one corner of the bar. After ordering a homemade Oatmeal Stout—one of my favorites—I asked the bartender if the arcade game to my right was in fact Golden Tee. She smiled, and I almost started crying I was so happy.

Ten minutes later, just after one of the guys to my left convinced me to try a shot of pomegranate vodka in my oatmeal stout—which, although creative, I wouldn’t recommend unless you’re a chef with a flexible palate—two girls approached the bar and ordered a shot.

When the bartender poured the drink, I thought it was a Soco and lime, but after seeing the salt on the rim and getting a whiff of the tequila, I threw my head back with a melodramatic “Oh my God” and almost collided with the girl behind me. I apologized and told her that the tequila smell startled me, and that was my cue to start a conversation. Turns out the girl I almost head-butted is going to graduate school at Pepperdine, and is only in town to party with her ASU alumni friends.

Then, out of nowhere:

“Hey, we’re going to Sand Bar, you want to come along? You can ride with us.”

You know, I love Scottsdale and the Waste Management Open. Did I say that already?

So, just when I thought my night was over and I was staring at horse’s asses—literally—I decided to be proactive and ended up partying like a rock star with a bunch of former ASU students, who arguably party harder than anyone. And the best part? They bought me all my drinks. How serendipitous.

So while I look at Steve Sands on the television this morning and want to judge, I really can’t, because I was doing the same thing last night (plus, who knows if he even went out—he could have a cold, right?). Birds are chirping outside, which means that the rain that moved in last night and this morning has finally stopped, but the combination of chirping and the florescent lights hurt my head.

Today, I’m going to follow Rickie Fowler, because he was backstage at the Bird’s Nest last night, and I want to see how his game handles it.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:25 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
I caught up with Fowler, Villegas, and Calcavecchia on the 5th hole, just as a crowd was forming around Villegas’ ball. Camilo’s salsa hips were at it again, and he overcooked his drive underneath a cactus bush. The difficult thing about his shot was that there were a few limbs hanging down in his flight path about 15 yards in front of his ball, and if for some reason he didn’t hit it out far enough, the severe right- to-left slope would roll the ball into the hazard, which actually had water in it thanks to the overnight rain. The only shot Camilo had—unless all the Red Bull he drinks does actually give him wings—was to chip it out left-handed. You could tell he really didn’t want to have to do it, but it was either that or get a bunch of cactus needles in the leg.

After several practice swings, keeping his eyesight focused on the position of the upside-down club-head in relation to the ball at his hypothetical impact position, Villegas stepped up and caught the ball pure, but it was knocked down by one of the limbs and rolled right up against the grass over the knoll near the fairway, accomplishing his goal of keeping it out of the water but giving himself an annoying lie. The chance of catching the toe of the club on the rough and slapping the ball with the hosel was a very real possibility.

After Calcavecchia knocked it on the front of the green and Fowler landed it in the middle—wearing a wonderful orange and white combination today that made him look like a human creamsicle—Villegas was once again taking practice swings for a difficult shot, this time moving in front of the ball to see what impact would feel like right on the edge of the rough off of the sand and pebbles.
“124 to clear the trap, so think 130.” Camilo’s caddie was trying to paint one last mental picture before the swipe, and although it sounded clean at impact, Villegas didn’t like it.

“Fly! Oh, I chunked it.”

The ball landed in the greenside bunker on the left, and I moved with the rest of the crowd over a section of the creek that was now completely trampled to look more like a mud bog. I couldn’t help but feel like one of the herd in the movie City Slickers.

From the bunker, Camilo opened the face of his wedge as much as possible, made a steep, aggressive swing, and hit one of the best flop bunker shots I’ve ever seen. I guess the bunker shot last week at the Accenture Match Play has only boosted his confidence. The ball went straight up in the air, just barely carried onto the green, and nuzzled up close to a pin that I thought he had no chance of getting close to, assuring bogey. Calcavecchia blew his first putt by the hole and three-putted, and Fowler holed a 30- footer from out of nowhere. The ball just trickled into the cup and at first I didn’t think the ball would even get there.

“He finally made a putt.”

“He’s sick, man!” I guess these two skateboard / surfer boys with beers in their hands enjoyed that little show, Rickie. Keep it up.

On 6, Villegas got into trouble off of the tee again, forcing an awkward bunker shot back into the fairway. After he put his second into the first cut, something interesting hit me: what is it with Spanish players and scrambling? I know Villegas is Columbian, but work with me here. Quiros, Villegas, Seve, Sergio—all constantly scrambling around the golf course for pars. Sure, they make their fair share of birdies too; otherwise they wouldn’t be out here. But Seve is legendary for scrambling, Villegas’ hips are out of control at times, Sergio is probably still picking needles out of his skin after last week, and although Quiros can bomb it 340-350 right down the middle, his approach shots and wedge game seems out of place—like trying to play in the NHL without skates.

After positioning myself high above the 6th on the steep, natural stadium seating hill behind the green, I saw Villegas hit an incredible wedge from 60 yards which burned the right edge and stopped less than a foot away. Well, I guess you can miss all the shots you want if you can scramble. Just before Fowler’s birdie try, I turned to a cameraman behind me and joked: “What color do you think that is? Creamsicle?”

The photographer was not amused: “It’s his OSU color. It’s his Sunday orange.” Yeah, I probably should’ve known that. I carefully flipped over my media badge, so that I might temporarily turn into an innocent patron. By the way: do you like your job, buddy?

Fowler two-putted, and the scoreboard on the right revealed a three-way tie between Piercy, Fowler, and Ogilvie at 13-under par. I wondered if Piercy could fire two low rounds in one tournament.

During the long, long wait on the 7th tee, chants and roars from the 16th crashed over the course like waves. I wondered if the wait would do anything to Fowler’s rhythm, which has held up nicely so far despite being backstage with OAR last night. In fact, although he’s been leaving himself long chances at birdie, he looks like he’s hitting everything consistently solid. If he can roll in some putts today, Fowler could easily win this thing.

Fowler hit a solid iron to the middle of the 7th green, and Calcavecchia put his on the front. Villegas left his shot out to the right, which is something I haven’t seen out of Camilo yet. The shot itself sounded like crap, like he caught it on the toe, but perhaps that noise was merely the result of playing with blades, where it can be so hard to get a good tune at times. His ball ended up short right, which made me believe I might have been right with my “toe” assessment.

Walking up near the green, the sun started peeking through the clouds, highlighting the angelic white outfit of Villegas and the very white jacket of Fowler. It could have very well been a commercial for Tide. This young and pristine look was such a stark contrast with Calcavecchia, whose dark clothing and demeanor almost seemed to create a cloud over his head. Whereas Fowler and Villegas could probably pose for a commercial at the drop of a hat, Calcavecchia looked more like a hung-over Nassau partner you might have on the weekends.

Once again Villegas got up and down, and Calcavecchia and Fowler made ho-hum pars. This being one of the final groups, it was nice to be able to walk right alongside them and not have to worry about fighting with a crowd. The huge rolling slopes around this course—that I hated so much for the first few days—are just perfect for handling big crowds and providing perpetual “good seats” for viewing.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:27 pm

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Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
On the 8 , Fowler and friends had to wait again, and I felt I had found the source when I walked up the 8th fairway: Lee Janzen. A patron next to me at the start of the event had said that Janzen was slow, so I just assumed when my friends back at the tee had to wait—again—that Janzen was to blame. But when Janzen walked onto the green and I took a look down the 9th to see how far behind Janzen’s group was, Mahan, Allenby, and Couch were all just getting to the 9th fairway. So, I guess Janzen isn’t really off pace at all. You win this round, Janzen.
Another huge roar came from 16, and I could tell from the build-up that a long putt must’ve dropped. I know it’s already past noon, but something about today being a Sunday made me surprised to hear a roar that loud.

Fowler played conservatively on his approach shot to 8, making me wonder if this Oklahoma boy is misjudging the wind a bit. Must be leftover gusts from the storm last night. To my right, an XM Radio announcer parked his cart and narrated the rest of the hole to me as I watched it, making subsequent notes on my pad sound ridiculous. I felt like I was merely repeating what this guy said, exactly how he said it. Damn.

Over on 16, the ASU boys were at it again: “Chug! Chug! Chug! Chug!”

I don’t think I could’ve handled that school if I had gone there.

Villegas came alive a bit on 8, sticking his approach shot close and barely missing birdie, making me think he must’ve heard some salsa music playing nearby and worked out the kinks in his timing during the downswing. But, on 9, I guess somebody had stopped the music, because Villegas left his tee ball out to the right again, and ended up in what looked to be the smallest bunker on the course.

On the right side of the fairway and dug into a slope on 9, there is a bunker complex with three circular bunkers. The bunker closest to the tee is where Villegas ended up, and you can’t help but wonder why the architect didn’t just extend the second bunker and change the complex from 3 bunkers to 2—that’s how small that first bunker is. I suppose it makes it all the more penal, but how the hell Camilo keeps getting himself into these jams all day is beyond me. Maybe the architect was a prophet, and knew that Camilo would land the ball right there in 2010 during the final round.

Villegas hit the lip on the way out, but still carried the ball near the green, leaving another 30-yard pitch, which of course meant a guaranteed up and down. Villegas is just MONEY from those yardages. Rickie hit a shot from the left rough, which seemed to swallow his white and orange shoes, and managed to stick it close. I think that was just one more piece of proof that Fowler would be a force this afternoon.

The scoreboard by the 10th showed Y.E. Yang at 12-under par. You’ve got to be kidding me. Where did he come from? I went into the media center to change, as the sun kept coming out and annoying me. Last night was fun, but this morning / afternoon has not been good for business in the stomach department. But, on a lighter note, I took a shower when I got back last night and I smell great today.

When I came in to change, I heard from one of the guys in charge of the flat-screens around the course say that none of them were protected last night, so they now have to throw away 30 flat-screen televisions. Televisions just full of water.

On the walk back to meet up with the group, I passed another scoreboard and got a peek at Calcavecchia’s scorecard. Man, it looks beat up. Bogeys galore and one birdie. Somebody buy that man a Bloody Mary. The beverage cart over here near the tee makes the “World’s Best” Mark! I also got a glimpse of the log-jam that had formed at the top of the leader-board, and it looked like there were 10- 15 players within two shots of the lead going into the last 4-5 holes.

Fowler narrowly missed birdie on the 11 . After passing 3-4 “Scottsdale Girls” wearing clothing that at this point I have become numb to, I couldn’t help but notice all the make-up. Some of these girls just CAKE it on, making me think that the make-up doubles as sun-block. If that isn’t true, I should start a company with a line of products that does just that and make millions. I could start it right here in Scottsdale, and then I’d never have to leave.

Another thing I realized, as if my life weren’t chaotic enough right now, was that if there was a massive playoff into the darkness this evening and the tournament finished tomorrow, I might even miss the first round of the Honda Classic next week with all of the driving I have to do. Come on Rickie! I don’t want to miss the Honda! Make some freaking birdies!

Calcavecchia’s par putt across the green on 11 hung right on the edge of the hole, and I’m not sure if what he did then was to keep the attention of the crowd or just to try and bend the 10-second rule as long as possible to see if the ball would drop, but Mark turned and stared at all of the birds in the lake as soon as the ball stopped, and just kept staring. Then he slowly walked to his ball—taking the longest route possible around the fringe of the green—and finally tapped in his par. It took so long it almost felt like overkill.

As Calcavecchia rolled in his par and then threw his ball into the lake, I noticed an old volunteer with a “Quiet” sign, holding it high and shaking it at people. Talk about a waste of time. I wondered if some photographer had a shot of a volunteer like him with the 16th stadium in the background. Personally, I’d love to have that photo for my home someday, as I’d probably laugh every time I saw it. I mean, I’d have to actually OWN a home first and not reside in a tent next to an 8 X 12 pool, but I’m working on it.

But here’s the bottom line, Mr. Volunteer: Dude, you’re 400 yards away from the loudest party in golf, and people are going absolutely bonkers. The wind is blowing. It’s loud and noisy outside, and I think you’d have better luck peeing on a house-fire and saving a puppy than quieting down this crowd. Try to relax.
Janzen and company were just getting to the green on 12, so Fowler and friends had a while to wait when they arrived at the 12th tee. The view of 11, 12, and 15 is really something with the sun bouncing off of the lake. It’s all... glittery.

Granted, it doesn’t feel that great when you don’t have any sun-block on your face because you forgot about it when you were all hung-over and cranky this morning, but the lake still looks nice at this hour.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:29 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
Rickie and Camilo sat in two chairs behind the par-3 12th tee, leaning back and staring at the hole, which today was playing into a stiff breeze. The 12th has had the highest scoring average of the week, and it isn’t hard to see why. The hole juts out as a narrow strip into the lake, and it’s also framed with two bunkers on the left. Calcavecchia sat on the stone wall framing the tee box, and his distance away from the other two players made him look like the dunce of the group. As Fowler and Villegas reclined, it was like they were sitting in an auditorium somewhere listening to a lecture, bored to death.

When they could finally hit, all three hit the green, with Villegas putting the best move on the ball, drilling it pin high 15 feet left of the hole. The scoreboard next to the green revealed Y.E. Yang at 15- under par. Man, this guy just won’t go away—but he’s on the 17th hole right now, so he can’t go much lower. Although, I certainly need somebody to win outright TODAY, just so I can make it to the Honda next week in time. Fowler and Piercy are now both two shots back, but I was hoping that, with Fowler’s length, the 13th would provide an easy birdie or eagle.

After three pars—Calcavecchia’s being anything but ho-hum as he rammed his first putt four feet by thehole, meaning somebody still hasn’t given him a Bloody Mary—we moved to the 13th, where the group had to wait again. I decided to walk ahead up by the green, seeing as how none of the players ahead of Fowler and friends seemed to be in a rush. On the way to the green, I passed O’Hair as he was teeing off on the 6th. I couldn’t believe that his caddie wasn’t even looking at the ball. His head only turned a few seconds after impact. But, I suppose with a horse like O’Hair, you don’t really need to watch the shot at all.

You know it’s all fairways and greens with that guy.

When I got behind the 13th green, I decided to make small talk with the older volunteer who had probably been stationed there for the last few hours.

“How are you? Any eagles today?”

“I’m fine. Yes, two eagles...Lehman and Mahan.”

“Lehman? Well that’s great. I bet the crowd just loved that one.”

This was the first time Hunter Mahan came into the picture in my world. There had been such a log-jam on the leader-board when I went into change that my eyes glazed over and I didn’t even realize that Mahan was in this thing. But, with his Ryder Cup performance a couple years ago, I knew the guy could play.

While I waited for Fowler’s group to arrive, I struck up a conversation with an older gent who had come with his son.

“This is my first Sunday at an event. It’s exciting, isn’t it?”

The conversation was fine, but it was my first experience with a “close talker.” Every couple of words he kept getting closer and closer to me, to the point where I almost fell backwards over the nice older volunteer I had been speaking with a few moments before. I finally got to the point where I held my ground and actually started pushing back against him, just to see if he’d get the message. He didn’t, so now we were leaning against each other. I’m trying to make a POINT here, buddy.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:34 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
Rickie’s second shot on the 13th ended up just short of the green, and I was surprised to see him use a wedge with quite a bit of loft on it to hit his chip. I would’ve thought with all of the green he had to work with, the fact that it was flat, and that he could almost putt the ball, should’ve resulted in him hitting a textbook bump and run. But he used the lofted wedge to hit a low, spinning shot that checked up a little farther away than either he or I would’ve liked.

Fortunately, after consulting with his caddie, he was able to roll in the birdie.
After moving out of the way and letting the “close talker” find someone else to lean on, I joined the rest of the crowd in a textbook gym class “red light, green light” game across the gravel near the 14th tee. There’s so much gravel around each hole that finally, during the last round, the volunteers made it a point to single out those patrons traversing across these areas and tell them to freeze.

“You two! Stop right where you are!” Verbatim.

Once I was able to get around the 2nd period gym class, I moved up to the green to watch the approach shots. Calcavecchia hit first out of the left rough, and the ball hit the green about 15 feet short of the hole and released to about 4 feet. Villegas ended up a little outside of him at 15 feet, and Fowler ended up about 25 feet away. The interesting thing, however, is that from where I was standing, all three balls were in a perfect line. Villegas would get a read off of Fowler, and Calcavecchia would get a read off of Villegas. The patron next to me finished the last of his beer and chuckled.

“Well, Calcavecchia should get a great idea of what THAT putt is going to do.”
I couldn’t resist: “Well, if Calcavecchia misses that 4-footer, somebody needs to buy him a drink, because he’s playing like absolute crap today.”

After a careful read, Fowler put quite a bit of pace on his putt, but it rattled around the cup and dropped. That was huge. I better get to 16 so that I can watch this group come through there; otherwise I may not get a seat. I walked by Rickie’s mom and girlfriend, who were standing up at the top of the hill right of the 15th tee, and Rickie’s mom was smiling wide and clapping her hands together at who I can only assume was a friend of hers on a cart.


When I walked by the 15th green just before the entrance to the stands on 16, I saw that the pin on 15 was front left, in a perfect position to make birdie. Granted, if you go right or left of that portion of the green, you’re either in the water or the trap, but still: that portion of the green is relatively flat when compared to all of the undulations and tiers in the middle and back right portions of the green.

“Ladies and gentleman, please continue to show courtesy for the players. Quiet please. Quiet.”
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:35 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
The announcer in the stands on 16 sounded like Chris Berman. I’m sure it wasn’t, but how crappy would that job be? The announcer can’t be rude or pissy, screaming at people in the crowd because a riot would probably occur. So he just has to drone on for each and every player: “Quiet please. Quiet.” And I thought Calcavecchia needed a drink. Somebody help this guy out.

Mahan and Allenby were on the tee at this point, and both of them stuck it close. After Allenby hit, aside from all of the cheering, I heard a comment normally reserved for Ian Poulter: “Alright pinkie!”

I found a seat just left of the ASU section, and it was really dead in here today despite all of the noise. I heard familiar cheers from the stands up to the skyboxes for somebody to chug their drink, but I heard a new one today. It happened when a couple tried to exit the way they came in, rather than continuing down the grandstands to the normal exits. Everyone around me started cheering: “Wrong way! Wrong way! Wrong way!” And one of the college kids below me made a melodramatic move with his body to point in the actual direction of the exits to help them out. This happened over 10 times during the span of only a few groups, making me support their decision to make fun of these people. That has to be annoying if you’re sitting down front to have people walking in front of you.

Mahan rolled in his birdie, and the scoreboard across the grass showed that he had now moved to 16- under, one ahead of Fowler. I just hoped that Fowler could birdie 15.

Below, three girls—who were all wearing next to nothing, stilettos, and caked on makeup—walked across the grandstand. Within a few seconds, every man stood up and started applauding and whistling. When the girls realized what was going on, they tried to duck behind the guys they were with, like a child evading attention. But come on—why even dress like that if you can’t take it? Did the Thunderbirds force you to wear that? I think not. But nice effort.

When Fowler walked up to the 16th tee, I glanced at the scoreboard to see that he had only managed to par 15. I would hear later during his interview that he just wasn’t comfortable going for the green unless he could do it with a 5 iron. He was too worried about the narrow landing area from his 4-iron / hybrid distance. His argument for the wedge into the green was good, but in retrospect, that might have cost him the tournament—16, 17, and 18 are not easy birdie holes. Perhaps he should’ve taken a gamble. But, I’m not the one wearing creamsicle today.

For the first three rounds, Rickie was blowing everyone else away with how close he had been able to consistently stick his tee shots on 16. After three rounds, his total was just over 30 feet. Today, he still stuck it fairly close, but was only able to manage a par. Mahan was now in the clubhouse with a 65 and a 16-under total, meaning Rickie needed a birdie on just one of the last two holes to get into a playoff.

Geoff Shackleford had been talking all week in the media center to players, other writers, and consulting with the statistics on the Shot Link laptops to compose a story about 17. While everyone else is writing about 16 this week, his focus is on figuring out how to play the 17th hole. It wasn’t until today that I realized how necessary an article like this was. The 17th here reminds me of the 10th at Riviera—a short par-4 that is drive-able, but if you miss in the wrong spot(s), then you’re screwed. The green is about the most interesting thing I’ve seen so far this year. If you hold up your right hand, holding in your thumb, ring and pinkie fingers and extending your pointer and middle finger, that is what the aerial view of this green looks like. A bunker is placed just above your ring and pinkie fingers, and the undulations of the green funnel the ball right into it if you have the pace. Surrounding the back and left sides of the green is water, and the narrow section of green where your index and middle fingers would be is crowned and falls away from the players, meaning the back left pin location today means water if you aren’t careful.

Fowler had a tough downhill second shot to this green, yet somehow threaded it between the undulations on the right side and stopped the ball just before it went into the water. But, he could only manage par. So that meant 18 was it.

And we all know what happened on 18. Gave the putt enough pace, but it just stayed right and Mahan was the winner. Nice solo second, though. The 18th hole was the only time all day where I really had to dodge people, but because of the slopes around the green, I still had a perfect view of all the action. My hat is off to this course for its design in favor of spectator viewing.
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:38 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..

This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:39 pm

Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:39 pm

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Tier BP
Member since Aug 2003
41180 posts

re: A friend's recount of the Waste Management Open from 10 years ago..
This post was edited on 3/20 at 5:39 pm

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