AUGUSTA, Ga. — John Daly was stationed in the Windsor Jewelers parking lot, selling merchandise from his massive motor home, as Tiger Woods played a practice round with Fred Couples inside the gates of Augusta National on Monday morning.
An author named Will Jordan walked down the sidewalk wearing a sandwich board and holding a sign that read "The Incarnation of Cat Man Billy" and "The Lord of Cats Loves Tiger and Cat Man Billy," respectively. It was already so hot he was sweating through his shirt and shorts.
But otherwise all was quiet on Washington Road as Masters patrons and sports fans everywhere awaited Tiger's 2 p.m. press conference, the first time he's faced a roomful of reporters since he crashed his SUV in the early hours the day after Thanksgiving. The Masters will also be his first competition in nearly five months.
One reason for that is patrons no longer enter the club on Washington but instead go down Berckmans Road. Still, where were the tabloid media that feasted on the Tiger scandal for the last four and a half months?
"The Richmond County sheriff supervisor over there told me they weren't going to let any of that happen out here," said David Rawls, Daly's caddie, as he stood outside his boss's motor home, parked under a giant billboard of Phil Mickelson. "It's been real quiet. Usually you can't even get up Washington Road. I think it'll pick up this afternoon or Tuesday and Wednesday."
Daly, wearing jeans and a T-shirt and smoking a cigarette, sold his wares to the occasional passer-by, but there was no line. The market for practice round badges was as robust as ever, with prices as high as $450 for Wednesday. Jordan, the "Cat Man" author from Wakefield, R.I., by way of Cheyenne, Wyo., was experiencing his first Masters, and was surprised at how tame the scene was.
"I knew it was pristine," he said. "I guess it's that way because everything is kept far away. I can give you a copy of the book, I just can't sell anything out here. I checked with the sheriff first thing: 'Don't solicit.'"
A Fox News cameraman was set up nearby, across the road from Gate 3, the players' entrance to Magnolia Lane. "This is the only thing I can get that looks like the Masters," he said.
A fully credentialed AP photographer snapped pictures behind him.
High school kids hawked badge holders, and children younger than that sold drinks for $1. Five equipment trailers were set up in the parking lot of Whole Life Ministries, which was charging $20 for parking.
Where were the paparazzi?
I asked a uniformed officer standing beside his Richmond County Sheriff squad car. He wasn't talking.