The NCAA Championship begins Tuesday at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn., just outside of Chattanooga. As an appetizer for the next six days of the fun, here are some fun facts, figures and observations:
• If you consider yourself a golf fan, you need to pay attention to this tournament.
• “Ooltewah,” according to a plaque here at The Honors Course, is an old Native American saying that means “resting place.”
From what we’ve heard about the course so far this week, “testing place” is probably more fitting.
• The Indianapolis Colts’ Peyton Manning is a member at The Honors Course, and was at the course Sunday.
Peyton, if you’re reading this, how do you feel about filming a PSA for college golf? (We’ll happily reward you with an autographed Lance & Asher 8×10 for your services.)
Not that he ever would, but how far do you think Manning can throw a 3-iron?
• Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jack Nicklaus all won NCAA individual titles. So if you want to be one of the best ever, you probably have to win this thing.
• Headlines you may or may not see this week from the NCAA Championship: Honors roll, High Honors, Honors system, Honors thy putter.
• The weather forecast for the next five days in Tennessee: Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain.
Advantage: Florida Gators, TCU Horned Frogs, Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers.
• The Georgia Bulldogs aren’t at the NCAA Championship for the first time since 1997. However, their team picture and roster are listed in the program.
Which only means that one team was left out.
• Texas A&M coach J.T. Higgins and Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw were seen talking with each other outside of a downtown Chattanooga restaurant last night. So that’s our early prediction for Sunday’s final match: Aggies vs. Cowboys.
• The NCAA Championship is the best golf tournament you can’t watch on television, as it hasn’t been televised for over a decade. (You can watch daily highlights on Golfweek.com or action from the last three holes live-streamed on the Internet, but after watching the Masters in 3-D this year we’ve become more spoiled than a 90-day-old pimento cheese sandwich.)
But don’t get us started on that.
• Tiger Woods ended his college career by winning the 1996 NCAA individual championship at The Honors Course – and he shot a final-round 80 to win by four shots. For the record, Woods could have shot 81 and still won the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.
• Funniest team picture in the NCAA Championship program? The UCLA Bruins, standing on a jetty with their hands on their hips. Chattanooga, meet LA.
• All of the members of the Arizona State team that won the national title at The Honors Course in 1996 are still allowed to play the course whenever they please.
That’s a heck of a bonus prize, and almost better than the free chocolate chip cookies at our hotel down the street.
• It was cool to see a huge billboard for the NCAA Championship on Interstate 75 as we took the exit for The Honors Course this morning – almost as cool as the neon sign we saw last night atop the Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel.
• Tickets this week are $15 per day, or $45 for the whole week. While we here at The Scramble think that’s a pretty good deal, we can’t say it’s the best deal in town. The Double-A minor league baseball team Chattanooga Lookouts begin a 10-game home stand today, and adult tickets start at $4. Kids (ages 7-12) are $2.
• You might not believe this, but the one-and-only Rickie Fowler played in this championship (for Oklahoma State) just one year ago. Now, in a few weeks, you will be able to play as Fowler’s character in the new “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2011” video game.
Kids these days.
• We walked into the media center this morning to the sight of a pile of boxes of moon pies.
Rain or shine, this is going to be a good week.