Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wyndham Championship (PGA Tour) - August 23, 2015

When I planned this trip, I focused on the minor league baseball schedule. After stopping in Charlotte and Burlington on Saturday, I planned to see games in Winston-Salem and Greensboro on Sunday and thus had booked a hotel in Greensboro for Saturday night. As I drove in, I saw signs directing traffic to a golf tournament. I knew that Tiger Woods was playing in the Wyndham Championship, but I didn't think that was in Greensboro. Well, I was wrong. Checking in to the hotel, the front desk clerk informed me that the Wyndham was being held just a few miles away. Change of plans!

I had never seen a PGA event before and as I did my research, I realized that this would be the perfect opportunity to see one cheaply. Free buses were provided from Greensboro Coliseum, and as I was familiar with the area from my visit to the ACC tournament last year, I knew I could park around there for free. As I was walking to the bus, I was offered a ticket for $30, face value. I countered with $20 and was that price was eventually agreed to. That's defending champion Camilo Villegas on the ticket.

The tournament was held at Sedgefield Country Club, in the middle of a residential neighbourhood in south Greensboro. The bus drops you off at the top of the entrance road, which you walk up to the main entrance. The practice green is along the way and I managed to snap a picture of Martin Kaymer before realizing that photography is generally prohibited by the PGA during tournament rounds.

I was given a map upon entry and it had the tee times. Tiger was in the second-to-last pairing, at 1:55 pm. It was only 11:15, but upon making my way to the first tee, I saw the bleachers were quite empty so I took a spot directly behind the golfers. Over the next 2.5 hours, I watching 18 pairings tee off. It went by quickly, as I was observing all the rituals as each golfer entered the tee box. It is the best place to watch a tee shot as you can see the ball most of the way. By the time it was Tiger's turn, the bleachers were overflowing, but I couldn't risk snapping a photo lest I be removed by the sheriff. This warning was issued before every pairing, and even your phone had to be put away. It was amazing the reaction that Tiger received as he emerged from the crowd and walked up toward the hole, guarded by two deputies. People still love him, and he was congenial, smiling and tipping his hat. He looks much different in person, smaller and younger than what I expected.

His tee shot was solid and as he left, everybody started to follow. That gave me a quick chance to snap a picture of a retreating Tiger, on the left above.

I moved around a bit more after the final group teed off, and saw a couple of golfers finishing up. That's the 18th fairway above, while there are sand castles on display that are pretty cool.

I left around 2:30 as I had to get to Pulaski (another change in plans) for a game that night but can tell you that Davis Love III won the tournament while Tiger triple bogeyed the 11th and finished in a tie for tenth.

This was my first PGA event but not my last. This was particularly well organized and very cheap and I'll be adding golf tournaments to my sports road trips starting next year.



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