Here are a few memorable moments from inside the ropes at Harding Park on Sunday:
Politics as Usual
Gavin Newsom, San Francisco’s mayor, was an honorary follower of the Tiger Woods-Y.E. Yang match on Sunday. Everywhere he walked, people called out his name and shook his hand.
When Newsom stopped near the green to watch them putt at the par-3 11th hole, a woman behind the ropes said, “Hey Gavin, I’m a registered independent, and you are blocking my view.”
Without missing a beat or turning around to see the fan, Newsom dropped and crouched as low as he could.
“Thanks Gavin,” the woman said.
Newsom said his only chances to play golf come on vacation, but he was pleased to have his city hosting the Presidents Cup and hoped more professional golf might be on its way to the Bay Area. Newsom spoke with PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem on Saturday evening about bringing an annual Tour stop to San Francisco. He sounded very upbeat about San Francisco’s chances, even though it would likely require a major shuffling of the PGA Tour’s early season West Coast Swing.
To give viewers a better sense for just how hard the pros swing, and how far their drives go, the PGA Tour and the television networks often place TrackMan launch monitors on the tee boxes. These instruments measure a player’s clubhead speed and the ball’s speed, launch angle and spin rate.
Manning the controls sounds like a glamorous job for a volunteer, but you can take it from Elizabeth Jackson, it’s not.
Jackson, a San Francisco native, shivered behind a laptop computer as players hit their drives. Positioned high on a bluff overlooking nearby Lake Merced on a cloudy day that never saw the temperature rise about 55 degrees, the cold wind hit her full force all day. She was bundled up in a ski hat, parka, gloves and blanket.
In four hours of work, she saw a total of 24 shots.
An unheeded proposition
After taking a 2-up lead at the seventh hole and belting a 296-yard drive on the par-4 eighth, Tiger Woods strolled down the fairway by himself.
From the left side, a male fan yelled out, “Hey Tiger, my girlfriend says she wants to be with you.” As Woods kept walking without acknowledging the fan, the man said, “And I just want you to know, I mean, man to man, that I’m O.K. with that.”
Neither Tiger nor his wife, Elin, who was walking with Tiger’s group, turned their heads.
Tiger vs. Yang Par II
Before the Presidents Cup started, there were rumblings that a singles showdown between Tiger Woods and Y.E. Yang had to happen. After all, it was Yang who dramatically defeated Woods at Hazeltine in August to win the PGA Championship.
How important was this match to Tiger? Through 12 holes he was 5 up, yet he was quietly seething as he walked down the right side of the fairway toward his ball on the 13th. As he twirled his 3-wood, he let it slam into the ground at least half a dozen times while fans called out “Go Tiger” and “U-S-A!”
For all intents and purposes, the match was over — the only thing in doubt was the final score — but Woods was not relaxing for an instant.
After making a birdie putt that won the match and sealed the United States’ victory, Woods said he was unaware that his point put the Americans over the top. He was so intent on beating Yang that he had no idea what was happening in the overall competition.
TW’s drink of choice?
According to a story in the New York Daily News, Tiger Woods may occasionally be drinking Neuro1, a sports drink developed by former NFL star Bill Romanowski.
While I can confirm that Tiger was not drinking Gatorade from his green bottle on Sunday, the only thing I saw his caddie, Steve Williams, pour into it was water.
Jordan’s Week: A Blast!
After Tiger Woods piped a 300-yard 3-wood off the 12th tee, Michael Jordan turned to me, shook his head and just laughed. The shot was a bullet, and with Woods 5-up, the NBA Hall of Famer was fairly certain the match was just about over.
“After this hole is done, I think you’ll be hopping in the back of my cart and riding into the clubhouse with me,” he said.
In a week that saw him get called out for smoking cigars at Harding Park and excluded from the Presidents Cup’s opening ceremonies, Jordan said he still had a great time.
“Man, it was great,” he said. “You can’t please all the people all the time, no matter how hard you try. Coach [Dean] Smith taught me that at Carolina. But I’ve had a blast, even with all the B.S.”