You couldn't get me on a roller coaster with a cattle prod, but I started the week of the PGA Championship with a flight in an F-16, courtesy of Class A PGA Professional and Oklahoma Air National Guard member Capt. Dan "Noonan" Rooney.
\nThe ratbag Rick Reilly had been up a few years back and wrote a hilarious piece for Sports Illustrated about it, but my jaunt was to promote the Fallen Heroes Fund, started by Capt. Dan just a year ago. The fund benefits the families of those who have been impacted by the war, so I immediately put my hand in the air.
\nEveryone who gets the privilege is given a call sign, and I remembered that Reilly's was "Two Bags" for the velocity and capacity of his hurlage, so I reckoned all I needed was "One Bag" to be one up on my more widely read hero.
\nThe flight and subsequent piece that aired on CBS created public awareness about Patriot Day, Sept. 1, when participating public golf clubs around the country donated $1 from every green fee and members of private clubs were encouraged to donate whatever they wished.
\nMy day started with three hours of rigorous training on how to get in and out of the jet and how to kiss my ass goodbye if anything went wrong. Reilly had been advised to eat a preflight banana, but lunch for me was a double sweaty Jalepeno cheeseburger, fries and a large chocolate malt because I hate throwing up on an empty stomach.
\nThe plane, baking on the hot tarmac, looked like a hypodermic needle with razor blades for wings and a rocket for a plunger. Before I knew it I was strapped in, lit up, and screaming for my mommy as Desperate Dan launched down the runway, pointed the nose vertical, and shot to 15,000 feet in 30 seconds. I felt like I'd been fired out of a cannon with an elephant sitting in my lap. Then we leveled out, flew into Kansas, and Dan really started to tie my bowels into a sheepshank. Thank God for the G-suit, a plumcrushing harness, and a pilot who knew what he was doing, or at least made me think he did.
\nWe did aileron rolls (whatever the hell they are, I think I've had them with red beans and rice), vertical swoopy things and plunging necklines before Dan gave me a few gut-churning banked dives that almost made me release a chocolate hostage I didn't know was a captive.
\nIt was an unbelievable rush, and I wanted to go again right after we landed. I'd made it through 9g, with no leakage, north or south! Four hours later, still elated, and in 102 degrees, I took an ill-advised bike ride, during which two idiots speeding downhill around a blind corner on the wrong side of the path took me out, knocking me 20 yards down the hill and out cold, separating my shoulder and covering me in enough cuts and bruises that the next morning I had to wear my bedsheets into the shower to soak them off my oozing wounds. The front desk had to be informed that no murder had taken place in Room 506.
\nFor the four days of the tournament, the average temperature was about 2 degrees colder than hell. Despite a strong challenge from "Woodrow the Weird" Austin, whose wheel is still spinning even though the gerbil has clearly left his cage, Tiger put his foot on the gas when it came to the crunch.
\nYou've got to love Woody, though. He'd make a cup of coffee nervous, but late in his career, he's taming his demons.
\nThe week was a disaster for the weak, and I was weak all week. I decided to drive home to Dallas that Sunday night, drenched in sweat and Gold Bond powder. By the time I dropped my thunderbags in the bathroom, my nads had turned to limestone, a sight that gave She Who Must Be Obeyed quite a fit of the giggles. She suggested a small tap with a hammer to set the boys free.
\nBut the important thing is this: Reilly can eat my perfectly stainless shorts! The call sign Dan gave me? "Spaulding!"
\nWait a minute, didn't he hurl into a Porsche?