Day 9: Meeting Some New Folks on Campus and a Bar; Frustrating Technology Thursday, Oct 23 2014 

JOURNAL #9….RICK

I’ve learned to love Wednesdays — on most weeks that’s when I do my Rusty Satellite Show podcast.  Yesterday I met up with Sean Moth, the public address announcer at the University of Louisville, then drove over to the Buckhead’s on Bardstown Road to talk about beer with Tish Gainey. And I always learn something during our 12-minute interviews.

Moth, who’s from Colorado, gets to show up for work on a college campus in shorts and a t-shirt. That alone makes me jealous, but I’ve always been intrigued by announcers. For one game during my time at Tennessee, I got to announce a Vols basketball game. It was a blast. My only other experience with that was doing my son Josh’s football games when he was 12. I can see that Sean has a lot of fun with his duties, which extend way beyond football and basketball.

Then with Tish, I was introduced to this voluminous online app that goes into great detail about beer. I had no idea there was this much info available in one place. Regrettably, I wasn’t up to try one while I was there. But I really learned a lot about her, and beer.

Anyway, here’s the show, please give it a listen:

LUKE:

Today I’m gonna talk about technology. Ok so today my Internet went crazy and I couldn’t get on anything. This is why my entry from 10/23 is delayed since I couldn’t send it to my editor. (editor’s note: that’s a good one). I don’t think there are many things more frustrating than having technology problems that you can’t fix. I think its because we don’t really understand a lot of the technology around us so we don’t really understand why our technology isn’t working. Then when you don’t have something you always have it feels very frustrating. For me I have to now change everything I want to do to something else. So today instead of working on something with my friend and playing games, I watched some TV ( I literally never watch TV) and just did basically nothing important. Alright that’s my rant for the day.

rs68TishGainey

Tish Gainey at Buckhead’s Mountain Grill

rs68SeanMoth

Sean Moth at U of L

 

 

Day 7: Monday Blahs and Rick Pitino’s Speech Tuesday, Oct 21 2014 

Journal, Day 7.
LUKE:
School was one of those Mondays that drag on quite a while but not much work. Though when I see it’s almost November I can’t really believe it. I’m not that normal in that I don’t really want to grow up but it’s a part of life and there is definitely some benefits to growing up like being able to do a lot more stuff and have fun doing more stuff. Other than homework and such nothing much happened .
RICK:

I have plenty of opportunity to see public speakers. For two years, I witnessed how difficult it can be for people by teaching a public speaking class. So I know something about the topic.

It amazes me how bad some business people are at making simple speeches. They rely on notes and read their speech, they speak in monotones, and they rarely make eye contact with their audience. Rick Pitino, on the other hand, is among the best I’ve ever heard. At today’s Tipoff Luncheon at the Marriott, Pitino spent 15 minutes getting the crowd excited not only about his basketball team, but about being a part of the University of Louisville community.

Rick Pitino

Pitino gave a great speech

Pitino praised his counterpart, Jeff Walz, coach of the women’s team. He used humor to explain how it’s going to be facing his son Richard in the season’s first game, against Minnesota in Puerto Rico. He connected with every parent in the audience by talking about how hard it is to get his young players to listen. And he got everyone excited by talking about how well his players are doing on the court, how he’s looking forward to playing the toughest schedule in school history.  He even predicted the men’s football team will beat Florida State next Thursday, and that he was fired up for that.

I rarely Tweet anything, but when he made the Florida State comment, I put it up on Twitter. I did not expect the reaction. Kentucky Sports Radio re-tweeted it, and dozens of UK fans re-tweeted or commented on it, mostly with derisive words about Pitino. I learned a lot of folks carry hatred toward Rick around with them.

Day 5: Saturday in the Ballpark Sunday, Oct 19 2014 

Our seats at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium are on the 50-yard line, way up in the UPS Flight Deck. If you like the nuances of the game, the Xs and Os,  seeing pass patterns as they develop, they’re great seats. There’s also a wonderful vista, with a view of the city from Iroquois Park to downtown’s office buildings. Churchill Downs’ twin spires and the still developing U of L academic campus are close.

Our group has a dozen or more seats together. My son Josh joined Paula and I yesterday as the Cardinals took care of business against N.C. State. In our section, the fans follow the game, and when things don’t go well for the home team, there’s grumbling. When this older fella didn’t like a play call yesterday, he got up and kind of lost it, bursting forth with a string of obscenities directed at either the officials or Bobby Petrino, I’m not sure.

BobbyPetrino-101814

Bobby Petrino was excited to meet fans during the Card March

This guy wasn’t drunk. He wore a baseball cap and a red shirt, and I really think he just got carried away. But his outburst inspired a young man, sitting about five seats away, to stand up (with his young son in tow) and scream back at him. “Calm down will you? They can’t hear you!”

It was a good line. Yelling anything from the upper deck, and thinking it might affect the judgement of an official, is insane. The guy in the cap was pretty quiet the rest of the way. The Cards made a few more mistakes, but never relinquished the lead, and everyone went home happy.

Paula doesn’t understand why we always have to stay until the end of the game.  I don’t have a good answer for her, because it’s something that Mark, my best pal, and I have been doing since watching some awful football games at Western.  As the 4th quarter winds down, she starts looking at me, making comments like, “Well, it looks like we’ve got this one.” I nod, as she takes note of all the people leaving. I’m not interested in getting a jump on traffic, and I like hearing the final horn sound.

LUKE:

It was a pretty fun day for me, unfortunately not much to write about. Basically I played some games until like 6 or so. I then headed over to a friend’s house where we have like six guys all going over there. My friend has a pretty big house so we get to do a lot of different stuff that ranges from playing on computers, Xbox, foosball, and hide-and-seek in pitch black. We usually stay up til like 4 or so. Well that’s it sorry for the boring day but you know that’s how it goes sometimes.

Journal Day 4: Differing Views on a Perfect Golf Day Saturday, Oct 18 2014 

Our Journal Project – Day 4

LUKE:

School today was filled with constitution packets, notes, physic quizzes, and boring French stuff. This is my first day of my journal where I had work at least. I work at Wildwood private golf course so most days lately have been real slow. Today was an exception holy I didn’t sit down once since I got there (I clean the carts, store them, clean members clubs, take care of the driving range, talk to members etc.). I can’t blame them though it was probably gonna be the best day til the end of winter to play.  That’s all for today since once I got home all I did was eat and play games.

RICK:

RickLukePGA

Earlier this year, Luke and I at the PGA Championship

Luke’s perspective on golf, that the glorious weather translated to more work, was completely different than mine. It was really fortunate timing in my view that on the day I was scheduled to play in a golf scramble, the weather gods decided to bless us with one beautiful afternoon. My event, which benefitted the Crusade for Children, was held at Quail Chase in the South End. I was invited to play by Jim, who has known me since I was born. Jim, Bill and Wayne were perturbed right off the bat when they learned they had to play the white tees, not the senior tees.

It seemed unlikely we would finish above last, or below par. They warned me I would be the A player, and we did use my drive on every hole. But we managed three birdies and two bogeys, the rest pars, which was at least respectable. And in scrambles, I’ve learned, it doesn’t matter how you score because there’s always one group that is really competitive and uses all the mulligans and strings they can get to get to 15 under.

There was an interesting twist in this event. Leland Conway, the WHAS-Radio mid-morning host, was volunteering on a hole to take a putt for the group for $5. It was a nice gesture and one that you just don’t expect media types to do. I came home with a 3X shirt as a door prize but a tremendous experience on the golf course.

Highs and Lows on Tuesday: Herbstreit, a Festival of Ideas and Meeting a Reptile Wednesday, Oct 1 2014 

Quite a week in my hometown. On Tuesday, ESPN commentator Kirk Herbstreit answered questions friend of Rusty John Asher at a charity luncheon for Catholic schools held in conjunction with the Trinity-St. X football game on Friday. Herbstreit said he’s a regular at the Derby, which Asher reminded us is only 214 days away.

It was the start of the Idea Festival, where Angie Fenton hosted a session called Thrivals targeting young adults. I stopped in and heard several high school students ask intelligent questions about what will be different in 2035. One young man named Thomas was from Fern Creek High School, and his concern was about light pollution and how we can’t see the stars at night in cities. As he was speaking, I got a text alert from a news station that his school was on lockdown after a shooting.

Later, at Louisville Collegiate School, the writer Carl Hiaasen spoke about his book, “Skink-No Surrender”. In conjunction with the appearance, Carmichaels Bookstore invited the Louisville Zoo to bring along some actual skinks. Now I don’t know much about lizards and skinks and reptiles of any sort, but I did get to see the slimy creature below up close. Hiaasen talked about his approach to writing, saying that he doesn’t do outlines and just lets the characters and stories go where his mind takes them. He credited the real life weirdness of Floridians for inspiring the strange actions his characters sometimes take, and took questions from a mix of the old and young among the several hundred book-lovers who showed up.

As Carl spun tales about the real-life criminal mind that inhabits the Sunshine State and inspires his novels, I couldn’t help but think about how, well, we’ve got enough goofballs around here who break the law in strange ways, plus corrupt politicians and even some people who manage to do the right thing,  that I ought to write a similar book featuring Kentuckians. I’ll put that on the list.

zooguybeRelevant Herbstreit

My Racquetball Retirement Announcement Tuesday, Aug 26 2014 

I’ve seen dozens, maybe hundreds, of athletes face the media to announce their retirements from a sport. For those professionals, giving up on a pursuit they’ve loved for their lifetimes is often a sad occasion. The tears flow even as the body fails. In their 30s and early 40s, it’s a realization that it’s time to move on to the rest of their lives.

Well, I’ve played racquetball since 1980, and it is with some degree of sadness that I’m retiring from the sport.

I know why there aren’t many professional athletes older than 40. Competing at a high level in most sports takes a physical toll. After a knee operation in May of 2013, I thought, and was backed up by my doctor, that I could  make a comeback. But competitive racquetball requires quickness and mobility, and it’s just not there for me anymore. My ankles, a doctor said looking at my X-rays, look like they belong to an 80-year-old man.

And a few months ago, my physician suggested that it was time to find something else to do. I set out to show him, but have discovered he’s right. It’s not fun to see a ball I could easily get to, have my brain tell my body to move, and not get the response needed.

Before things get worse, I’m hanging up my racquet.

I took a class called Beginning Racquetball as a junior at WKU because I needed a one-hour credit and it sounded easy. It didn’t take long before I was hooked, and intent on becoming a champion, or at least winning a tournament. My interest grew when I got a summer job at the Louisville YMCA, where I could show up early for my job picking up towels and hit balls by myself on a court.

When I moved to Knoxville in 1982, there was a great facility and I spent many hours practicing, because I had plenty of time. I started playing tournaments, advancing levels until eventually I was competitive in the prestigious Open Division in tournaments. I played in Lexington, and Charlotte, when I lived there.

You see, I had the philosophy that everyone should be really good at one thing, and my thing was racquetball. I’ve been faithful to the sport, a constant in my life that survived changes in location and employment. And women. And everything else that I’ve done the past three decades.

I’ve played at almost every court in town, starting at the Y. There was a stint at the Jewish Community Center. American Fitness. LAC. Whenever I moved, a prime consideration was always how far it was to the courts. At the last complex I lived in, I chose it because it was among the only ones in town with courts. When I traveled on business, I took my racquet and sought pick-up games wherever I stayed. At my workplaces,  I took long lunch hours to get games in, or left early to get to a court.

My sons grew up knowing one thing their Dad always did — play racquetball. I took Nick and Josh, and later Luke, to the nursery at the clubs where I played. I taught Josh to play, and he took to the game, but never like I did.  After I entered Josh in a junior tournament when he was 10, and he won, a national magazine ranked him #1 in Kentucky, a fact he pointed out to everyone he met. A few years ago I got to play in a tournament sponsored by the U of L club he was in, and was thrilled to impress all his buddies who were shocked his dad was so good.

Every Father’s Day, Birthday and Christmas since I’ve been a Dad, I’ve gotten racquetballs as gifts. Luke, I think, has already bought some for my birthday. I’m not sure what he’s going to find to buy for me now.

I learned about online shopping by buying racquetball shoes and gloves.

The women in my life, and my bosses at various places of employment, accepted my passion, sometimes reluctantly. But racquetball was my constant companion, the one thing I knew would never fail me. The ball always bounced back off the wall, and I could go get it and hit it back harder. And the people who were closest to me understood that, no matter what, I would find the time and I would keep trying to get better.  Saturday mornings. Sundays. Lunchtime. After work. Every month, every week.

The game lifted my spirits, improved my mood, whether I was winning or losing. I really thought I’d be able to keep going into my 60s and 70s, like my friends Dave and Ed, but I just wasn’t blessed with the physical ability to do so.

I had been a high school athlete, and until now, always saw myself as a competitive athlete. Most of my friends knew little about this passion of mine. Few came to see me play in tournaments. But I played for me, for the competition, for the fun of sweating through a shirt and 3 gloves in an hour.

For most of the last 34 years, I played this game three times a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less. For years, I didn’t go a week without playing. There was a foot injury in about 2000, and I tore an Achilles in 2004, but those were the only extended times when I didn’t play. I’ll never know the true number, but I would guess that I played 150 times a year through my 20s, 30s and 40s. Probably 15,000 individual games.

So I’ll miss the game. And I’ll miss the fraternity of guys I’ve played with all this time. If this were one of those press conferences, I’d be sure to thank all the guys I’ve played against, guys who also had family and work commitments but placed an importance on fitness and needed to satisfy an urge to compete.

I met Tom Raque at the downtown YMCA when I moved home in 1989, and we’ve been constant competitors ever since. I had a weekly lunch game with Dave Fly for years. Scott, Brett, Chip, Larry, Ed, Steve. We all know each other, and are always surprised when we see each other anywhere that’s not a racquetball court. Fight Club without the bruises.

I’ve recovered from hundreds of bruises on the back of my legs, the unique black circles that rise on the skin when you don’t get out of the way in time.  I always suggested to certain someones that we got them on purpose just to prove we were actually playing racquetball.

It’s been a long love affair, but all good things must end.

 

Drama in Darkness at the PGA Monday, Aug 11 2014 

There were fans who so wanted to see the finish of the PGA Championship that they set up at spots early in the morning on Sunday, expecting to be there for an exciting finish about 7 o’clock. But Valhalla absorbed another inch of rain, and the odds of the last group finishing before sunset were getting longer.

For nearly two hours, players and fans waited for the rain to stop. And when play resumed at 2:44, conditions were still difficult for the players and, mores, for the fans. It was a muddy mess in more of the well-traveled areas. New shoes were ruined. People fell.

As sunset approached, fans wondered what if? What if they have to come back tomorrow to finish? What if there’s a playoff? How do I get another day off work?

Ultimately, Rory McIlory, with a birdie on 17, took care of the playoff question, taking a 2-stroke lead. And an act of sportsmanship on 18, in which Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson allowed the last group to play up with them, assured that McIlory would eventually tap in for par on 18 to secure his 2nd Wanamaker Trophy and the $1.8 million first-place check. All in near darkness.

It seemed anti-climactic for the thousands around the final green, who had been waiting all day for this. The golf was great, but not filled with drama. McIlroy had fallen behind by as much as 3 strokes early in the round, but stayed focused, chased down Mickelson and Fowler. The turning point was a miraculous 2nd shot on #10, a 2nd which seemed to have a magnet to roll toward the hole, resting within 7 feet. The eagle put McIlroy in position when his competitors couldn’t finish out strong.

Louisville as a community didn’t disappoint. The golf course, the galleries, were all praised by players and officials. There were no incidents, no one was over-served, and generally everyone was polite. We got a memorable finish and a quality champion, a star-filled leaderboard. And when the PGA comes back, as we know it will, the city will gladly do it all over again.
Boots were the most popular fashion accessory on Sunday At #5, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson set up for their second shots McIlory struggled on the front, but charged home for the win in near darkness

The World’s Eyes on the ‘Ville — Ready to Toast Rory? Phil? Rickie? Saturday, Aug 9 2014 

There’s a tremendous story being written at Valhalla Golf Club this weekend, one that all of Louisville will give “legend status” to if it follows the script to its logical conclusion. There’s no doubt that people, all over the globe, will be focused on golf on Sunday, even if some folks here in town aren’t.

Rory McIlory is the kind of champion locals want

Rory McIlory is the kind of champion locals want

This week many local media watchers were focused on the hubbub at the city’s alternative newspaper — LEO Weekly, and the new owner’s decision to drop a planned cover story on the West End in favor of a column about a golfer, Tiger Woods. It was the first issue of the paper under the leadership of Aaron Yarmuth, who happens to be the son of a Congressman well-known for his love of the game.

Yarmuth absorbed plenty of shots for his decision, but it’s hard to think a local media organization could NOT consider the PGA at Valhalla front-page news.

But let’s get back to the golf tournament, where corporations paid up to $250,000 to entertain clients in tents along the fairways. The cost of weeklong passes approached $1,000, and locals wanted to impress the organization holding the event so much that they bought more tickets than at any other event in history. All this, despite the inconveniences levied upon spectators — like being forced to park more than 20 miles away and ride shuttles to the event.

Or being subject to shaming and the threat of cell phone confiscation for using a mobile device on the property.  I saw this take place on the 10th fairway.

And then there’s the weather. Rain delayed the tournament for about an hour Friday, and spectators endured Saturday morning rain showers. All that made walking around the course a muddy, slippery experience that caused additional inconvenience for some when parking areas became unusable.

And it’s not easy to watch a golf tournament in person anyway. Whether you follow a particular player, or stay in one spot and watch the field pass through, it’s hard to follow the flight of the ball. You’re always jockeying for a better view. And the best thing that can happen is if an errant shot lands near where you are standing and you get really close to the action. And unlike watching on TV, it’s really hard to keep track of who’s doing what on other parts of the golf course. There’s no P.A. here, and fans are constantly being told to shut up so the players can focus on their shots.

Certainly many locals citizens don’t know or care about all this golf business, all the money involved, and how mind-boggling it is how good the best golfers in the world hit the ball.

But it’s all taking place right here, off Shelbyville Road.  The weather gods, or golf gods if you prefer, saw fit Saturday to have the sun shine on the best of the best, Rory McIlory, as he finished with a birdie on 18 just after 7 o’clock, giving him a one-shot lead going into Sunday’s final round.

Media coverage is as international as the field. Going into Sunday, the world’s #1, McIlory, who hails from Northern Ireland, leads a relative unknown from Austria by a stroke. There are a couple of Americans, and the Top 10 includes an Australian, South African, a Swede and a Fin. Phil Mickelson, perhaps the next most popular draw in the tournament, had a great Saturday and lurks just three shots behind. One TV analyst proclaimed a win by “Lefty” would prompt a new nickname for the city — PhilVille.

Then there’s Rickie Fowler, he of the colorful, outlandish yet fashionable Puma attire, an American whose presence at the PGA prompted dozens of 7-year-olds to beg their parents for orange outfits to wear to Valhalla. Fowler is just two shots behind McIlory.

It’s really competitive. At one point Saturday, five players were tied for the lead, with four more a stroke behind. Even though Tiger, who won this event the last time it was here 14 years ago, missed the cut, the tournament is shaping up for a fantastic finish. A win by McIlory, who is considered the game’s next superstar, would lift Louisville and Valhalla to an elevated place in golf history.

Last year, the PGA took place in Rochester, N.Y., and was won by an unheralded and pudgy pro named Jason Dufner. Since he was the defending champ, Dufner was honored here Derby Week and even participated in a publicity stunt hitting a golf ball at the winner’s circle at Churchill Downs.

But Dufner, who left Louisville early with an injury, has nowhere near the star power of the fit and muscular McIlory.  Golf fans around here expect Valhalla to deliver a formidable and popular champion who can boast of Louisville’s role in building his superstar aura, much as Tiger did in 2000. Bernd Wiesberger, the Austrian unknown who goes to sleep Saturday in 2nd place and will play with McIlory Sunday, just wouldn’t be the kind of champion locals would adopt as ours.

Nothing against Wiesberger, but he’d be sort of a California Chrome, this year’s Derby winner who will be remembered as the horse whose ownership group had the nerve to complain about the hospitality at the track. No one expects Wiesberger to use Louisville as a launchpad to a superstar career.

For us, Rory would be a story for the ages.

 

Time to Start Keeping Score at Valhalla Thursday, Aug 7 2014 

After three mostly uneventful days at Valhalla, watching the best golfers in the world make the game look easy, it’s time to get down to business, starting Thursday morning. The PGA, the organization running the tournament, does a great job of feeding the media horde here (with stories, and food). But there’s only so many ways to manufacture news stories — and three days is about the limit without actual competition.

Tiger-Mania: “The business just got better at the PGA.” That was the comment WHAS-TV’s Kent Spencer made to me as we marveled at how the atmosphere at Valhalla changed about Noon Wednesday, when the PGA let it be known that Tiger Woods was on his way and would be playing a practice round at 2.

Some TV media camped out for two hours in hopes of getting video of Tiger pulling in to the club and parking his car. Later, on the Golf Channel, it was like the video of Tiger driving into the parking lot and getting out of his car was breaking news, worthy of repeated showings.

Ticket-buyers were drawn to every one of Tiger’s steps, forming the largest group I’ve ever seen staring at a man warming up on the range. The gallery lining the first hole was 3-4 deep on both sides of the fairway for 400 yards. No one in this sport commands as much fan and media attention.

On the range, Tiger was the  center of attention

On the range, Tiger was the center of attention

Up until the Noon announcement, the whereabouts and plans of Tiger were the event’s biggest mystery. Even with Tuesday’s Long Drive Contest, which generated some interest, it seemed the Valhalla crowd was acting more like it was at a Catholic picnic, more intent on socializing than watching golf, especially since the casual golf fan only recognizes a handful of the top players.

Tuesdays with Perry: The obvious sentimental choice to do well among the galleries was Kentucky’s own Kenny Perry, who was given a special invitation by the PGA to play in what he concedes will likely be his last major. At his press conference, Perry spoke of breaking his normal routine, babysitting grandkids onTuesdays, to play a practice round at Valhalla.

He’s certainly my favorite. Perry graduated from WKU in my class, 1982, and is celebrating his 54th birthday this month (his is Sunday, mine the 28th). He talked about the challenges in keeping his body going, taking Glucosamine and Fish Oil, overcoming knee surgery, and trying to compete with players 20 years younger. He sounded sort of like my racquetball buddies describing aches and pains and how hard it is to keep going physically.

Perry talked about his joy at getting to play at Valhalla

Perry talked about his joy at getting to play at Valhalla

“I’m taking some things that seem to have helped my knees. I’ve had two knee surgeries, one on each knee, and what I struggle with is uneven lies. That hurts me more than anything now,” he said. Later he mentioned the challenge of keeping his weight down and eating right. Just like the rest of us.

Watson’s Picks: There’s more on the line than simply the $1.8 million purse the winner gets on Sunday. At Tom Watson’s press conference, the Ryder Cup captain spoke of the challenges for players trying to qualify for nine guaranteed spots on the Ryder Cup team that will compete overseas later this year. Several pros have a shot at making the team with a high finish here.

And he announced some news — that he’d picked Steve Stricker as a Vice Captain. That could be good news for Tiger, who won’t qualify for the team and must hope Watson picks him with one of his three Captain’s picks. Tiger and Stricker are friends, and most think he could have some influence on Watson’s choices when he picks three players in September.

Wanna Wannamker?: I admire the PGA’s marketing expertise for coming up with the concept of the Wannamaker ticket. It’s a higher-priced ticket that includes admission to an air-conditioned tent, where they serve food and drink and have TVs. The PGA charges quite a premium for the privilege.

Great form hitting a golf ball at Slugger Museum

Great form hitting a golf ball at Slugger Museum

Gotta be the Glove: Hillerich & Bradsby seems to have struggled in the last decade or so to compete in the crowded field of golf equipment suppliers. Its doesn’t even make its once-popular PowerBilt brand of clubs any longer. But the company has a glove division called Bionic, and hosted a party at Slugger Museum to introduce its golf glove to the international media gathered in Louisville.

At the event, there was a golf pro there to evaluate swings, so I teed it up right on Main Street.

 

 

 

Think Watching Golf is Boring? Not at Valhalla Monday, Aug 4 2014 

I used to think so too.

That was, of course, before I learned how to play, and play better, and study the form and technique of people who know what they’re doing on a golf course. And at this week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla, the best players in the world are working their magic.

The pros are good. At Monday’s practice round, I probably saw two dozen shots taken by various pros. They never miss. At least not by much. I saw Miguel Angel Jiminez, the Spaniard famous for smoking a stogie during his round, fire a couple of darts from a hundred yards within 5 feet of a hole. Then he put a tee shot on a 210-yard par 3 within 10 feet. All the while strolling along, smoking, as a woman carried an umbrella for him to block the sun.

All the pros I saw seemed at ease. But they were working. Because everyone here wants to win. The prize isn’t just money, it’s immortality. As I learned during last week’s Rusty Satellite interview with Larry Sinclair, the field will be playing in front of the largest crowd in PGA history, with some 250,000 people walking around the course.

The crowd was relatively sparse on Monday, though there were plenty of folks in expansive (and air-conditioned) PGA Merchandise Shop. And everyone is talking golf. The story lines: Rory McIlory is the hottest player in the game, having won the Open and last week’s Firestone tournament. But Sergio Garcia (perhaps Sham to McIlroy’s Secretariat?) has finished second both times. People like the chances for Rickie Fowler, who has enjoying a great year but hasn’t won a major. That’s who national sportswriter Pat Forde likes. Forde is a guest on this week’s Rusty Satellite Show.

Miguel Angel Jiminez on Monday at Valhalla

Miguel Angel Jiminez on Monday at Valhalla

My sentimental choice to win is Kenny Perry, who graduated in my class at WKU and, like me, is celebrating his 54th birthday this month.

And always there’s Tiger Woods. As of Monday night, it’s still not known whether Woods will be here. After pulling out of Sundays’ final round at Firestone with an injury, he called a press conference for Tuesday. But it’s been postponed.

In the media tent Monday, local legend Bobby Nichols was holding a press conference. He won this tournament 50 years ago in Columbus, and this week a mural was erected in his honor along the Watterson Expressway. Paul Hornung was there as part of the proceedings.

The great thing about such a big event, happening right here, is that you can run into anyone, at any time. Right here in Louisville.

PGATee

Seeing the pros up close is what it’s all about for golf fans at practice rounds

The truth is that watching a practice round isn’t all that exciting. There’s no scoreboard, no scoring, nothing at stake. But it can have its moments, in the same way that watching sluggers like Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa take batting practice was exciting. That’s because you’re watching the best athletes in the world perform in their specialty, feats you can’t imagine.

Most fans don’t know most of the players not named McIlroy, Mickelson, Garcia, or Tiger. But it doesn’t really matter.

You might think the gap between your game and Rory McIlroy’s couldn’t be THAT wide. t watched the final round from Akron on TV Sunday, as McIlroy overcame a three-stroke deficit to edge Garcia by 3 strokes. But he averaged more than 300 yards off the tee. The pros hit wedges 170 yards. They hit it out of sand trips without effort, and make routine putts that would leave you jumping around on the green.

That “These Guys are Good” campaign is truth in advertising. They’re here this week at Valhalla. You don’t want to miss it.

 

 

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