Day Two . Another beautiful day, and as Stanley Druckenmiller said, it is more like southern California, than Pittsburgh–dry, dry, dry. Druckenmiller is one of the members at this club who was intent on bringing the Open back to Oakmont. An investment manager in New York, he was such a nice man, and devoted to the traditions of this golf course. I ended up interviewing a number of members who have been influential over the past decade in making the course what it is today. Benny Barbour, the former president of H.H. Robertsoin, now retired in Arizona, was a hoot telling me Tuesday night about how he and another man went out in the middle of the night to begin taking out the trees at the club. Obviously they didn’t cut them down themselves, but it is such a story of intrigue, politics and controversy (as I said in my piece during the news). I think that aired on Thursday, but the days are all beginning to run together.

I heard some people say that Tiger wasn’t signing autographs,

but I met the most adorable high school graudate who made it her mission to get eye contact and waves from her favorites. Her boyfriend was really surprisingly supportive, but he was really cute, too. Tiger acknowledged her, and Phil said thank you when she told him to feel better.

I have never understood how some fail to understand that the intense focus that has made Tiger Woods the most recognizable athlete in the world, is what makes him less than accessible during a major. Of course he is a bit different! He is an athletic “genius,” and to do what he has done, there is part of you that must not care what people say about you. After his round on Friday, he did his news conference, then went to the practice tee, and I was told he signed a lot of autographs.

Oh, I met Colin Montgomerie in one of the corporate tents, and we talked about being Scottish. He was charming and oh, so well-spoken, I know a lot of Americans don’t like him because of critical remarks he made about US fans after the Ryder cup the Americans won with that putt by Justin Leonard. Someone pointed out to me that he has bodyguards,

but so do Ernie Els, shown here walkng with them ( they are local law enforcement officers), and Tiger.

Day Three I talked to the young man who caddied for Tiger in Tiger’s second round at Oakmont, sometime in April. Adam Hoffman played while at Fox Chapel HIgh, and is headed to Vanderbilt on a full ride. His parents, Rob and Christi Hoffman are lovely people, and have two great kids–their other son played hockey, went to OSU( that’s okay) and now works for the Penguins. The Golf Channel also did a story about Adam, because of what Adam did with the 150 dollars Tiger tipped him . He didn’t tell his parents that he donated it back to the Tiger Foundation, and they got an acknowledgement in the mail. Rob didn’t want to go on camera, because he was afraid he would cry. He didn’t, but I did. hahahaha. How I would have loved to have a child like that.

So much talk about the rough, and the cutting of it…fascinating how they have machines, that when they cut, pull the blades of grass up so the blades are standing at attention,and when the ball hits them, it sinks down, and doesn’t lie on top.

The ride form Hartwood, which is quite close to my home, was pleasant. I wish I could take those shortcuts off the turnpike. I had wondered how they would get to the course so quickly. And you don’t even mind getting up at 4:30–well, maybe that is an exaggeration–but there is an invigorating chill in the air, dew on the grass, and the sense that you are going to be doing something special on this day. It is the feeling I had every morning, when we got up at 5:30, to get ready to mount our horses when I was on safari in Africa. And, frankly, without the trees, this links course, restored to its original style, looks a little like the savanna of Africa. And hitting into that rough is getting lost in the jungle. Ha! Rain and lightning end the practice rounds, and our live shots. Everyone scrambled to tape what we call “ins” and “outs.” So there was some semblance of being live. This was the day that I wore new shoes. MISTAKE ! I have these gaping blister holes on my heels, and then I didn’t read the directions on the moleskin, and put it directly on the blisters. I won’t tell you what that was like trying to get them off.

Day Four. It has started. The Championship. And the first thing I have to do is interview the thousands preparing to follow Tiger. I was so impressed by one teenager. I asked him why he would follow this athlete for five and a half miles–a man who probalby might not acknowledge him now that he was in “focus” mode. He said Tiger was a role model–his preparation, his intensity, his brains. I was impressed. Impressed on how even the glitches–like human logjams around the 18th hole, and on the bridge–get smoothed out somehow by USGA .. It’s not perfect, but when you consider almost 50,000 people wandering around in the grass, in withering heat, it is mind-boggling.


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