I’ve been to a lot of professional golf tournaments but this was my first major and what an eye opener. The place was packed because of the delayed start (2nd round finish in the morning) and 3rd round play didn’t put any golfers on the back nine until after noon and all the fans went with them early.
Some differences with regular tour events: It was difficult to see where players stood, since every scoreboard was manually operated. Regular PGA Tour events are replete with automated scoreboards showing real time updates. Also, the size of the massive tent city erected to support the event was impressive and made the regular tour events pale in comparison. One pleasant surprise was the food and drink concessions. Prices seemed reasonable and the staff from the Prom company manning the refreshment stations were fast, courteous, helpful, and above all, competent. Lines moved very quickly.
Despite the packed conditions in the morning, we managed to find some excellent viewing spots with our favorite being on the hill to the right of #7 tee, where you can simultaneously take in the play on #6 green and the 7th hole. Also caught Bubba Watson throwing a club in frustration after backing a wedge approach off #9 green. Despite his disappointment, the crowd was showing the love to Bubba, as he was decked out in camouflage slacks to show support for the troops.
The golf course appeared to be playing softer than normal due to the overnight rains and several in the field took advantage with scores in the 60s. We spent a good hour on the hill behind #10 green watching a usually tough par-3 hole play very benign with most players attacking the flag for close birdie attempts and routine pars. Fan favorite Phil Mickelson was not as fortunate and chopped his way to a 77, going seven-over on the back nine alone. Maybe next year Phil.
Finally, as of Saturday night this one looks like it’s in the bag for Rory McIlroy as he enjoys an 8-shot lead going into Sunday. I think the time is now for him to exercise those demons and put the final round 80 at Augusta out of his mind. We’ll see tomorrow!