What a day. I’ve been all over the TPC Four Seasons and the property shooting photos, following players and floating between three of my media hubs. My three media hubs are the regular media center, a “war room” with my fellow HP Social Media Team, and the 16th green HP hospitality suite.
What’s the story today? There are many, most in my mind are of my personal experiences here as opposed to just the results of the tournament but I’ll start with the current results.
Jeff Overton leads after day one with a -6 64 (par 70). I just sat in on Overton’s presser and he said that his ball striking, especially driving has been very good lately. The course does setup for good driving and ball striking, and less bombing since there are only two par-5’s.
Ryan Palmer is in solo 2nd with a round of 65, -5. I didn’t have the chance to follow Ryan around and I really can’t comment on his play. But I can say that he had new irons in the bag and a pre-round game plan developed by Randy Smith and his caddy. First time they’ve tried the game plan deal. I recommend doing it again.
Sergio Garcia sat atop the leaderboard for a while with an opening 66. During his presser he talked about the infected finger and his hopes to play in the US OPEN one way or another. The one way would be if he were to play well enough this week to qualify, the other being playing a qualifier. If he doesn’t make it, he said he wouldn’t be home crying over it.
Tied with Garcia is a group of nine players including bomber Dustin Johnson.
Course And Conditions
Today they played lift-clean-place because of the storm which hit here Tuesday. There wasn’t a lot of mud or water on the course, but there were actually pitch marks in the greens and fairways because of the large hail which pelted the course.
The course is definitely a “TPC” style with all of the shaved collection areas and bowls around the greens for the gallery to gather. In a rather embarrassing moment, my water bottle got loose and rolled literally 25 yards down a slope and nearly onto the 18th green. That’s a TPC layout for you.
I followed a few key groups through the day, starting the the Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson and K.J. Choi group. I’ve turned into quite a Choi fan ever since 2004. Garcia didn’t look to be too concerned about the infected finger and obviously shooting a 66 it didn’t hurt his score. In fact, maybe Garcia should try to always play with a finger infection.
I also had the pleasure of watching a great group in Vijay Singh, Matt Kuchar and Nick Watney. I watched Vijay hit his 3rd shot off of the back of 16 which was amazing. He was on a down slope with the green running away from him hard. He had to stop the ball above a tier in the green and just let it trickle over to keep the ball from going off the green. He hit a perfect shot which nearly went in, ending up in range for him to make birdie. That single shot made me think “that’s why they are pros.” I could sit there with a bucket of 50 balls and not get one that close.
In a subsequent group, Anthony Kim was in almost the same situation only a bit farther left of the pin. From my perch in the HP hospitality suite I was looking right down from above him. He clipped the shot perfectly, just like Vijay. I shot a pic of his chip where you can even see that his club is ahead of the ball. He too made birdie by hitting a chip shot that nearly no amateur could pull off. That’s why they’re pros.
I could go on about players and the course for a while. I saw a lot of both today. As a fan of the PGA Tour, and a person who loves to play the game, today was terrific.
At the end of my time on the course, in which a pal of mine the HP media group lent me a gigantic lens for my Nikon, I was huffing back to the media center. I stumbled across Golf Channel’s Rich Lerner, sitting on a couch in the lobby of the resort here. I couldn’t resist introducing myself and letting him know how much I admire his work. As critical as I am of The Golf Channel, I’ve always thought Lerner was the best.
I’m glad to report that the person and personality match my impression of his quality of work. He was very nice and we actually had about a 10 minute chat. He seemed genuinely interested in a golf blogger and what it takes to be one. I’m sure he was a bit curious, because us golf bloggers are a bit of a different breed than the standard media types.
It was certainly a pleasure to meet Mr. Lerner.
Beer and Pizza, again?
Last night in the press room I enjoyed a local pizza and some frosty beverages. The frosty beverages are going down very easy now, but I’m resisting pizza for a 2nd night in a row from the media center. I plan on heading to a local mexican place which is supposed to be quite good. I hope their hot sauce is REALLY hot.