I have been covering golf for 16 years, but I've never had a more enlightening day on the course than last Thursday at Baltusrol. I gained more fresh insights into Tour life--and a few revelations about my own life--than I've had on any previous day at a tournament. And I didn't interview any players at all. The secret to my success? I simply followed my wife, Carrie, and listened to her analysis.
For starters, I learned that Vijay Singh is a teddy bear. "He was so chatty on the practice range," Carrie said. "It looks as if he is everybody's best friend, and it's nice that he gave all the players at the past champions' dinner a subscription to Bassmaster magazine. You won't bring SPORTS ILLUSTRATED home for me, and you get it free."
Apparently, Steve Williams is another Mr. Nice Guy, not a scowling, camera-tossing ogre. "He's totally sweet," said Carrie, who bumped into Tiger Woods's caddie on the front nine while I was at the concession stand. Tiger had airmailed one of his tee shots into the trees and the ball landed next to Carrie. "After I helped move a TV cable away from the ball," she said, "Stevie looked up at me, smiled and said, 'Thanks a lot.'"
As for the fans, Carrie couldn't understand why so many people wore golf spikes. "It's totally ridiculous," she said. "Do they think Tiger's going to ask them to hit a shot for him?"
We spent much of the afternoon following Phil Mickelson, Carrie's favorite player. "Wow, he's big!" Carrie said when she first laid eyes on Lefty. "Does he hang out with John Daly?" Carrie had nicer things to say about Adam Scott, who was in Mickelson's group. "Very cute. He's seriously working out."
I spotted Mickelson's wife, Amy, in Phil's gallery and pointed her out to Carrie. That was like putting a T-bone in front of a German shepherd. Carrie stopped watching Phil and started eavesdropping on Amy, who was chatting with a girlfriend. "All they talked about was shopping and the fights going on between some of the players' wives," Carrie reported. "How come you never write about any of this stuff?"
At the end of the afternoon we stopped in the media tent. Many of the 1,013 reporters covering the PGA sat in front of computers watching the action on TV. At the back of the giant tent Carrie noticed a glass-enclosed room with a message painted on a window: RELAX ... WITH A 5 MINUTE MASSAGE $5.
"What's the need for that?" asked Carrie. "Because you reporters work so hard, eating catered food in air-conditioning while watching TV?"
Next time, I think I'll leave Carrie at home to watch Phil and Tiger on TV while lying on the sofa in our air-conditioned den.