Random musings from Carmel, Ind. . . .
Rickie Fowler knew that he hadn’t done enough to qualify for the Ryder Cup team over the last few months. But after a 67-70 to open the BMW Championship Rickie was in good spirits and admitted that he had put an awful lot of pressure on himself over the past few months. But when he was introduced as Charl Schwartzel on the first tee on Saturday morning – before a crowd of thousands – whatever pressure was left over was released.
In fairness to the first tee announcer Charl Schwartzel had been the second name on the sheet in the group on front of Fowler and the starter had simply forgotten to scratch that group off his list. The fact that Fowler was wearing bright plum patterned pants and a solid plum shirt and is one of the most distinctive figures in the game made the moment almost too much to take for Fowler and his playing partners. Louis Oosthuizen was doubled over laughing as were virtually every member of the gallery. When the starter quickly caught his error and reintroduced Fowler as Fowler an enormous cheer erupted from the first tee. Fowler managed to tee off with a smile still on his face.
• • •
There was a lot made early in the week when Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy played together the first two days. They were indeed chatty walking off of tees and sharing a joke on occasion – particularly on Thursday. It is easy to be friendly when you are shooting 65 and 64 respectively. They put on an incredible show for Indianapolis, which had been waiting a long time for the best players in the world to return to Crooked Stick.
Friday there was considerably less chatter as the two were grinding to stay in contention, although both managed more than respectable rounds of 67 and 68. Although I wouldn’t expect to hear that Woods and McIlroy vacationed together, a friendship seems logical considering there are few who have traveled the road that McIlroy has embarked on over the past two seasons. Woods seems uniquely suited to understand the demands that McIlroy now faces.
• • •
On Sunday, Woods and his Ryder Cup teammate Dustin Johnson also spent a lot of time talking and indeed laughing their way around Crooked Stick. These conversations rarely make the television coverage as they tend to happen between the tee and the fairway where the two routinely had 300 yards to cover before they reached their balls. Interesting to note that Woods and Johnson hit the same iron on all four par threes on Sunday. While Johnson was a few steps farther off the tee their iron play was hand in hand. On firmer golf courses Johnson will be longer than Woods by a considerably wider margin as he flies it as far as Woods but with a more penetrating ball flight. Either way this is a pairing we will likely see in a couple of weeks.
• • •
The atmosphere in Indianapolis this week was second to none this year on the PGA Tour. Although the crowds may not have reached the numbers that we see in Phoenix each year, these were golf fans out to watch golf. The mass of humanity filled each rope line like the tide coming in all week long. The Western Golf Association and the PGA Tour should seriously consider putting Crooked Stick in the rotation for the BMW for years to come. One fan mused that there may not have been as big a crowd on Sunday if Peyton Manning had been making his return in Indy on Sunday.
• • •
Bo Van Pelt may have been the only player playing with Woods that could have received a larger ovation on the first tee, which he did on Saturday. On virtually every tee and fairway there was a chorus of “hooo shiers”. Van Pelt embraced the potentially once-in- a-lifetime opportunity to play among people who have supported him since he was one of the best young players that Indiana had ever produced. Forget the fact that he attended Oklahoma State and lives in Tulsa. Home is home and for Van Plet, who finished 10th, it is was a great week among fellow Hoosiers.