Shortly after Tiger teed off this afternoon, I had to devise my strategy to follow him.
Having been at my share of tournaments, I knew the way to go was to camp out at a hole where I could see Tiger tee off, putt and then walk in a fairway without taking too many steps.
For me, that was the sixth hole.
I arrived at the top of the green at 2:45 pm ET, as Woods was on the third. At the time, there were six rows of people sitting in chairs surrounding the green and five rows of people standing behind them. Some of the people standing had told me they had even been there all day.
As the groups went by, the crowd behind me mounted. Three groups away from Woods.
I watched the golfers drive and putt.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, Edoardo Molinari, Lucas Glover. Charl Schwartzel, Stewart Cink, Padraig Harrington. Yuta Ikeda, Ian Poulter, Steve Stricker.
I look behind me. I'm in the sixth standing row. There are 10 rows behind me.
Here comes Tiger.
At 3:25 p.m., he hits his drive on the par three onto the green.
As he walks down the fairway on the sixth (then at one under par), he gets the clapping. It seems just like old times. Except this time it goes on for longer. The clapping is almost the length of a Sunday appreciation clap. Tiger, who usually acknowledges something like this once, is different.
He tips he cap.
He raises his hand.
He raises his putter.
"Gosh, he's all of a sudden like Mickelson," says the fan next to me.
There are no heckles or any distractions on the ground. Not here. Not at Augusta National. To do that, you have to take the air, as did a plane that flew banners that said, "Tiger, did you mean bootyism?" and "Sex addict? Yeah. Right. Sure. Me too!"
Tiger pars the sixth. I only know from the applause. I can't angle myself to actually see the hole even though I can clearly see Tiger and his caddie Steve Williams.
I immediately turn around. Wait 10 minutes. Tiger hits his tee shot on seven and I watch him walk to his second shot.
It's 3:39 p.m. ET. I spent 54 minutes on holes six and seven. I saw about about seven minutes of Tiger (his tee shot on seven was hidden from my view).
I have to say it was worth it for the spectacle.
But I have a feeling that the people following the anti-Tiger strategy came away even more fulfilled.
Eight groups ahead of Tiger a crowd of 37 are watching 2000 Masters champion Vijay Singh. They can see every detail of his cap, his stroke. They can even hear him chatter with his caddie. That's the up close and personal that you won't see at any other major tournament. And with everyone following Tiger like never before, that's also a memory some will never forget.
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