ST. LOUIS — Where were you when Tiger Woods took a run at major No. 15?
Late Sunday morning, as Woods confidently strutted — hat backwards, shades on — into the Bellerive clubhouse, about 100 yards due west stood a long line of people buzzing about what might happen over the next eight hours. They were waiting at the typically massive merchandise tent. What wasn’t ordinary? The line just to get in was at least 200 people deep.
It was a mad merch dash kind of morning at Bellerive, where lines extending beyond the 100-yard length of the tent. At 8 a.m., the line was even worse — about 300 strong — and took about 30 minutes to reach the entry doors. “We’ve had lines backed up in spurts this week,” said one merch tent clerk. “Usually it’s just before or just after Tiger tees off.”
It was the same story at 11 a.m. Saturday, between Woods’s second and third rounds. The tent entrance was a bottleneck of spectators standing and sweating in the sun for 25-30 minutes. With Woods teeing off at 1:35 local time Sunday, the noon rush was a final push to get the goods before the big man hit the course.
Considering there are 50 registers running at all times in the 47,000 sq. ft. tent, yes, you could say the goods were flying off the walls. And for further incentive, a Sunday discount: 25% off remaining shirts and hats. The stream of fans was so constant, PGA of America staffers even set up a line through the masses extending away from the register.
No one on staff seemed to know, or to be able to find out, what the maximum capacity of the tent was. One worker offered a guess: 500 or 600, at least. “Whenever the ground begins to shake,” another clerk said, “that’s when we know we’re at full capacity.”