Heat thins but can’t subdue crowd

May 10, 2009

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. — Fans made a horseshoe around the 18th tee, giddy with anticipation shortly before the arrival of Tiger Woods and Daniel Chopra at the Players Championship on Saturday.While the 94-degree heat seemed to keep some people home instead of straining against the gallery ropes at TPC Sawgrass, those who remained showed admirable spunk. They started doing the wave around the 18th tee, and were making so much noise a marshall had to quiet them lest they upset the golfers on 17. This did not go over well, eliciting howls of, "Wave killer!" And, "We can do a Ninja wave!"When Woods and Chopra finally emerged from the tunnel under the grandstands behind the 17th green, the fans strained against the gallery ropes. Woods fanned his 3-wood right, and had to restrain himself from slamming the club into the turf. Chopra split the fairway, at which point the fans rejoined the fun."Go get him, Tiger! Knock him off the fairway!"Brian Davis played with Boo Weekley on Saturday, which means he heard several inventive and not so inventive exhortations."Hey, Boo-Boo, how about a picnic basket?""Hey, Boo, ride your horse again!"Davis, who was called a "tangerine" for the bright orange shirt he wore earlier this week, was at one tournament, not the Players, when a fan hollered, "Your shirt sucks!" Davis wheeled around to face the fan and realized the guy was wearing the exact same shirt."I thought that was funny," Davis said.Still, the Players at Sawgrass would seem to have a long way to go to equal the U.S. Open at Bethpage, N.Y., where in 2002 Phil Mickelson heard a comment that he thought clever enough to remember even now. He was playing with Hidemichi Tanaka, who went over the ninth green and, in order to play his shot, had to move a microphone that had been placed in the grass."He picks it up to move it out of the way," Mickelson said, "and a guy yells out, 'Hey, Tanaka, how about a little karaoke?' I just think stuff like that is funny, very quick-witted."  There was one minor incident at Sawgrass on Saturday. An apparently inebriated fan with a hamburger in his hand wouldn't pipe down as leader Alex Cejka prepared to hit his tee shot on 18. Cejka's playing partner Ian Poulter told the man to cool it, as did the marshals, but as Cejka was about the hit the man coughed and uttered, under his breath, "Bull____!" Cejka didn't seem to notice; his drive split the fairway.