By petedirenzo
Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PARAMUS, N.J. -- Glamour alert, glamour alert! This FedEx Cup thing might actually be working! Having Tiger out for a few months is helping too!
Few were more dubious about the FedEx Cup than I was, and it's still way early, but pro-am day at Ridgewood was spectacular. Yes, pro-am day! First off, the course is an old-fashioned, rich-people country club with an elegant clubhouse. It has a real veranda where you can order real food (if you sneak in, as I did) and watch Players You've Heard Of doing their thing on the massive practice green. The weather was positively shipped in from Maui--blue skies and low humidity and 75ish. With school and camp out, the course was loaded with kids, many of whom requested autographs. Phil signed forever, and Padraig Harrington was right behind him, and somewhere else Vijay Singh was practicing long bunker shots. There's so much more golfing celebrity to spread around when Tiger is not around. Look, pa--isn't that Steve Stricker?! Yes it is, son. You can tell your children someday you saw him.
One forty-four in the field, and chances are you've heard of all of them, if you're an agate reader. Certainly the top 30. There's the guy you saw at the Masters, Brandt Snedeker. There's the guy you saw at the British Open, the one who wears pink. (Ian Poulter, son.) Where's the other guy from the U.S. Open? Rocco, Rocco--there was an APB out for Mr. Rocco Mediate, Esq. (And I don't care what you say about his name, Johnny Miller.)
I've never been to a post-PGA Championship event that had the kind of--someone give me a better word here--buzz that the Barclays had on Wednesday. Now comes the hard part: a tournament with guys puking and choking and making charges and knocking down flagsticks and rubbing their hands when they look at the pile of money. This could be the real deal, and marketing had only the slightest something to do with it. Pro-am day was the kind of day when a kid could come to the course and, with his head on the pillow that night, be swamped with a single thought: "How do I join the circus?"

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