Here is a rundown of how my day went today at the AT&T National. Let me tell you, fun has never been such hard work! My neck is completely shot from taking over 230 pictures today but it was truly a unique experience that I will never forget. Everyone that I talked to from player, to caddie, to agent, to tour van guy couldn’t have been nicer. Stay tuned over the next week or so as we get some of these pictures up onto the forum where I’ll be able to tell you the story behind the shot.
9am-10am Putting Green
As I’m milling about trying to see where I want to set up shop, Justin Rose walks by and says to me ‘nice color shirt, mate.’ Turns out the THP shirt was almost the same color as his adidas one. I told you the gray one was the one to wear JB! After talking about the color with him he started putting with the Ghost. It seems as though all the Taylormade guys are using it now. I also spotted Dustin Johnson too. I’m pretty sure he and his caddy are a combined 13′ tall. Turns out he doesn’t like to practice putting so he went to play his practice round early. I also spotted Joe Ogilvie and Vaughn Taylor as well. Also, the caddies are all hysterical. They’re like animal house, everyone has a story for one another but it’s never about golf. Truly they’re guys being guys.
Next I went to the driving range for a bit. Sean O’Hair is so methodical and crisp with his irons and wedges. Heck all of these guys are but Sean stood out right away. He finished his range session by hitting some prototype forged irons that Taylormade may be releasing next year. He’s also having a party for all of the Taylormade guys at his house which is 30 mins from the course. Vijay Singh is an animal. All he did today was practice, practice, and practice some more. It’s really impressive to see someone of that size swing so effortlessly. Literally every shot he hit whether it be a driver or hybrid was straight as an arrow. Scott Verplank isn’t the longest guy on tour but he was pureing every iron shot and nailing every pin at the range. Briny Baird gets my vote for worst dressed today too. Oh yeah, all the caddies use Bushnell Rangefinders when marking their yardage books and all the pros, and I mean all of the pros use some sort of alignment aid of some kind too.
Tour Van interviews with Adams, Callaway, Cleveland, Taylormade, and Bridgestone. I got to interview one of the top tour players from these companies but I’ll let that be a surprise for later. I won’t spend too much time here on these as we’ll be posting the interview transcripts for each of the Vans separately and I’ll give some commentary on those as well. One thing i will say is that these guys are complete gear heads and are at the beck and call of the players. I know this because every interview I did had either a player or a caddy coming in needing an adjustment or a whole new club made. Really cool stuff. Also managed to get into the player’s locker room as well but no pictures were allowed to be taken. It was pretty cool to see the shoes being shined and the spikes being changed.
Back to the driving range. Aaron Baddeley is shorter than I would have guessed but he had ‘Badds’ on his bag so it’s all good. Matt Every, DJ Trahan, Jeff Quinney, and Paul Goydos are all here. Hearing Goydos talk makes me want to have a beer with this guy! Very down to Earth and funny!. Another thing I’ve noticed is that all the players are interested in what the other has in their bag and if it’s working for them.
There’s a Charley Hoffman sighting at the putting green. He and his caddy (his brother I think) both need haircuts. Not much going on here so let’s check out the 1st tee. Looks like Daniel Chopra is teeing off. He’s my new buddy…..here’s why. He’s talking with some fans while waiting for his practice round to begin when I notice he has a Yoda head cover. Me being a Star Wars geek I say in my best Yoda voice ‘Daniel hit ball far, hmmm?’ He turns to me and says ‘That’s hysterical man!’ I then say ‘Use the driver, yes’ and he just laughs. I think he likes me until he blocks his tee shot into a fairway bunker. Guess he won’t be friending me on Facebook tonight but I like him anyway.
Back to the driving range where Stevie Williams is cleaning Tiger’s clubs. There’s a buzz around the range now so Tiger must be close. Meanwhile, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Streelman, Stadler’s Boy, and John Merrick are here now. It was interesting to see Rose working with his swing coach which I got some good shots of. Brandt Snedeker is a ‘good guy’ who laughs after every shot but I think that was because his caddy had gas. Seriously, he is a perfectionist when it comes to his irons and wedges. He was only going to hit 2 bags of balls but felt his swing wasn’t right so he hit 4 bags worth.
Shift change at the range, on comes YE Yang, Charlie Wi, Robert Allenby, Jim Furyk, Ryan Moore, Nick Watney, Jason Day and Charles Howell III. Furyk is all business and I’m glad his swing isn’t textbook. Gives us all hope. Ryan Moore has quite an entourage for someone who doesn’t have many sponsors. Allenby talked about sailboats his entire range session which was kinda funny. YE Yang and Charlie Wi were having a closest to the pin contest but the most unique thing that happened to me was Charlie Wi’s agent asking me if I knew any good sushi places in the area.
Here comes Tiger! The crowd is in a frenzy as Tiger strolls on by. He proceeds to literally hit like 10 balls and then he’s off to his practice round. Lots of Tiger shots to come later but I got some really good shots. Not good enough for me to quit my day job though.
Final range session of the day includes Brian Gay, Ryuji Imada, Dustin Johnson, Stu Appelby, JJ Henry, and John Merrick. Brian Gay has got all white grips on his clubs now which looks pretty cool. He was having issues with his Taylormade SuperFast driver and had is caddy in the tour van a lot. As I found out, Brian was the first pro to put the SuperFast into play on tour. The bad part about that is is that the head on his driver is an original model/composite and there are no ‘backup heads’ for him so if something happens to it, he’ll need a completely new driver.
I finished out my day by watching Tiger finish out his practice round with some pretty cool shots. He did a full 18 today as it turns out. He was really dialed in with his wedges from what I saw and maybe the talk of his game rounding into form is true?
Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Sorry for the gigantor post but I wanted to share my diary and notes with you all as best I could. If you have any questions, etc let me know.
Pictures from todays coverage will be available in the THP Forum right here.