I really liked what Ray Hustek had to say about the Memorial when we were out there Wednesday morning... it was all about the fact that we have the chance to get really close to these guys while they're competing. Look at the CBJ. Yeah, you can get a seat down by the glass, which is awesome, but the PGA players at the Memorial can literally be a breath away on virtually any tee and if you go out during practice rounds, you can interact with them. You go to Huntington Park to see the Clippers, the guys never come into the stands for any play and you defintely get escorted out if you head out to the field of play. The Crew players, OSU football and basketball... I could go on and on, but I think the reason people get psyched and even blow off work to head to Muirfield Village is because of the potential for encounter and the close brush with guys they've seen win on tv at courses all over the country.
Just yesterday I spectated with buddies Andy and Damon and we saw a couple players up close. Canadian Mike Weir hit a ball in the right rough on #3 and it was almost exactly where we were standing. He made his way to the ball and we were literally in on the conversation between him and his caddie. Just a couple holes later, we were just yards from Rickie Fowler and we saw Phil and Bones work down the par five 7th. Major league sports don't often offer that kind of experience, but the Memorial delivers every year.
The players amaze me in press conferences as well. Reporters ask all kinds questions and 99+% of the time the players repsond with thoughtfulness and true insight. Take Rory McIlroy. Dude just called off his wedding plans, went on to with a European major and then lead after round one of the Memorial. Most people are thinking 'Man, she must have been a giant burden for him to be playing so good after he dumped her,' so as a reporter you have to consider asking the question. Matt played the question and response on the show this morning and both handled the situtation beautifully. I would imagine in other sports, that question might have gotten blown off and handled with anger, but not at Jack's place and not by Rory.
If you haven't seen Maetzold's photo gallery, do yourself a favor and check it out. Dave has a great eye for cool shots, plus you can see these guys with their game faces on.
I do want to say thanks for all the folks who take the time to stop me out at the course and say hello. I think some people are embarrassed or don't want to intrude, but it's wonderful to meet listeners and folks who love the game and the Memorial as much as I do. So if our paths do cross, I hope you'll stop me and introduce yourself.