Saturday, June 20

A Great Day! It was a great day to be at Bethpage Park. Weather started out hazy and later became wet, but all the players finished their second rounds. I arrived and went immediately to the first tee grandstands. I wanted to sit and see some groups tee off. The first group I saw was the group of Paul Casey, Jeff Olgilvy and Jim Furyk. I picked a good time to arrive! They hit great shots, and as they walked down the fairway, I saw a couple wearing capes with the Australian flag on them, with the slogan “Come on Australia”. The man was carrying a gigantic blowup plastic kangaroo……so the day begins……. The crowds were arriving at the front of the clubhouse and fanning out onto the course. There were thousands….Today instead of walking everywhere I decided to plant myself at the 17th green. It is a perfect location. Did I say it was perfect? Sitting on the hill between the stands gave you a great view of a number of holes – not only a direct head on view with the 17th tee, but also the 15th teeing area, the 16th green, the 18th tee and the 1st green. I just had to turn around and stand up to see them tee off at the 18th, which was only 30 yards away.. I wore my rainsuit, and good thing I did, because the rain started around 12:00 and continued off and on throughout the day. 11:00 am I am watching groups play through the 17th and the crowds are starting to grow – they are awaiting Tiger! Finally We all can see him crossing the street onto the 15th tee, and the spectators start making some noise. I have my golf earpiece so I can hear what goes on out on the course, and Tiger so far has not been having a particularly good day. 12:00 pm Finally Tiger arrives at the 17th par 3. In his group are Padraig Harrington and Angel Cabrera. Padraig hits his ball over the green into some nasty long grass. He is searching for his ball…. and he is laughing as he finds a yellow golf ball! He proceeds to throw it into the crowd as someone yells “hey, that’s my ball!” As Tiger is surveying his long putt, many people are yelling “make that putt, Tiger!” he doesn’t make the birdie, but pars the hole. As his group leaves, so do half the spectators…The next group after Tiger’s, that of Ryan Moore, Eric Axley, and Ben Crane – those poor guys are playing in front of moving crowds and a not too attentive audience. 12:45 pm I can see Tiger on the first green and he made a birdie! Maybe that will get him going…..Now he will cross the street to the 2nd tee and move out into the farther reaches of the Black Course…. Time for a story…. Like I had mentioned before, my grandfather was at one time the superintendent of all the courses here in the mid 50’s to early 60’s. My Dad used to tell us stories from his and my grandfather’s days at Bethpage. Well, one day (as my father had told it), my grandfather was out driving around on the course in his truck checking up on the maintenance. He was on the Green course between the 4th and 5th hole with his driver side window open. A golf ball came flying into the truck and it hit my grandfather very close to his temple. He was knocked out, but was OK. My Dad said that any closer to the temple and he would have been a goner…. Also, on the Green course, there was an accident. This was years ago, I don’t remember when, but Republic Airport is just a few miles from the course. It seems a small plane crash landed on the 7th fairway of the Green course. No problem — everyone just played through. Other than the yellow police tape around it, it was just an obstruction – free relief! 🙂 4:00 pm It is nearing the end of the second round, and the crowds are getting a little tired and restless. (code:too much beer). I decided to move to the 15th/16th grandstands. It takes time for the USGA to start the third round. Not only do they have to make new pairings, but the maintenance crew has to roll the greens, cut the grass, rake the bunkers and cut new pin placements. In the meantime, I go to the concession and grab a Nathan’s hot dog and a coke and sit in the stands and wait…That means it is time for another story!…. My Dad gets “fired”– I love this story — it is a classic Father/Son story… My father worked for my grandfather on the maintenace crew. He also caddied, but when my grandfather needed him on the course, that took precedence. My Dad was known to go out to the course during the night, turn on the sprinklers (in those days, it was manually done on each hole) and have a party with his friends – both men and women. (Thank god this was before he met my Mom!)…Anyway, one day he was out on the 18th hole of the Green. For those of you who are familiar with the course. It is a long slight dogleg uphill to a well bunkered green. Well, my Dad was raking the traps and a golfer hit his ball into it. My Dad proceeded to cover up the ball. The golfer saw what my Dad did. He proceeded to tell him that “I am going to get you fired!”. This golfer went into my grandfather’s office, with my father, and told him the story of my Dad burying his golf ball. My grandfather made a big stink and said to my father “You are fired! Don’t ever think you are ever working here again!”. Well, the next day Dad was back at work. I am sure my grandfather had some words with him (in Italian, so no one else could understand him). I am guessing that my Dad getting ‘fired’ may have happened a few times??…… 5:15 pm Play has not yet started, but the rain has. It is getting stronger, so I decide to call it a day and walk back to the cabs that will take me back to Bethpage… I will be heading back to Sarasota tomorrow, so I cannot watch the US Open in person…. but I will write to you tomorrow with some final perspectives about Bethpage Black and Bethpage Park….

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