Bandwagoning Behind The Ropes: The Players Championship At TPC Sawgrass

Thursday, May 7, midday: IT’S REALLY HAPPENING.

Sara, a friend of mine who also likes golf, is my partner in crime this weekend. We’re on the plane, but not before I was asked by the lady at the Southwest counter where my guardians are, as minors can’t travel alone.

11217819_10152932346817635_5790724784085712858_nShe clearly didn’t believe that I’m going to be 24 in less than two weeks. She ID’d me, and took her sweet time comparing the photo to my face. I’m not entirely convinced that SHE was convinced, but she let me through.

Thursday evening: We’ve settled in, I’ve made friends with a lizard, and I’m ready to get some beauty sleep before our beach day tomorrow.


Friday, May 8, morning: BEACH. Luckily, this beach club has Golf Channel on at all times, so I can keep track of the tournament while sand blows into my mouth with each bite.

Friday, May 8, evening: So…Jordan missed the cut and I have the WORST, most embarrassing sunburn known to man.

Before the beach:
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After the beach:image2
So, funny story.

I put all kinds of sunscreen on the top of my body. Must have missed my legs. Then spent all day on a beach, bent over looking for shark’s teeth in the sand. This involved resting my elbows – my sunscreened elbows – on my knees.

Apparently, the sunscreen transferred to ONE PART of my knee and left the rest to burn. Mind you, this is DAY ONE of this trip.

But we found the shark’s teeth, so it wasn’t a complete loss.

image1


Saturday, May 9, morning: I can’t move. Pulling my Nike golf skirt on over this burn was the closest thing to agony I think I’ve ever felt. And I just spent thirty minutes on a school bus, shuttling to the course. Standing up and peeeeeeeling my skin off that leather almost reduced me, a grown woman, to tears. Maybe the lady at the Southwest counter was on to something.

But we’re here! We’re in! We’re watching Martin Kaymer take some practice swings while people who know NOTHING about golf try to educate other people who know less about golf. I want to jump in and correct the group behind me (Sergio Garcia is NOT from Mexico and it’s not pronounced KEY-mer) but I’m far more interested to see what other fun facts they have in their arsenal.

The course is INSANE. The practice area is lined with the country flags of all the players present this year. Kaymer is the reigning champ, so the German flag is flying in the place of honor.

Jim Furyk is a hometown hero- he resides in Ponte Vedra Beach, so many fans are here to follow him today. Also, Fluff, his caddie, is awesome. That ‘stache is the stuff of legends.

Today, Sara and I will be following Rory. I have the system down from the last tourney I watched live, so we can maximize face time on or near the ropes. The idea is to see as much of the course today as possible so we can relax at the 17th tomorrow.

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Saturday, May 9, evening: Not a good day for any of my favorites, nor the skin on the lower half of my body. At some point during the afternoon, we heard that caddies and players use Tinder during tournaments. So naturally, we downloaded the app and got to swiping.

Nothing. Nada. But these dudes are pro athletes. I would’ve been embarrassed had I come across any of the big names because COME ON.

Sunday, May 10: I went out and bought a floor-length sundress last night. I packed my Puma skirt to rep Rickie today, but my legs can’t handle another full day of sun exposure and Florida apparently forgot how to make clouds.

2We were on TV though! We started the day watching the guys warm up, and Jim Furyk set up camp in front of us while the cameramen set up camp in front of him. We were getting texts and emails from friends saying “I see you!” and “You’re famous!” while we talked about which guys had the nicest butts (Furyk was not on the list. His wife could have been though, had we been talking about women).

After watching the tournament coverage, I realized we were on screen for like half an hour. I actually got bored watching myself talk animatedly.

We eventually walked away to find a spot at the 17th, and oh, did we ever. We managed to find two seats in the main gallery, which would have been perfect if there was even the slightest shade over them. Nope. And if we got up to get water, we would lose the seats. We suffered through five or six pairings before throwing in the towel and running for hydration like we were dying in the desert.

11244404_10152932347292635_1661987627940531274_n11150874_10152932347437635_2197573501739693864_nAt some point, we realized that Rickie was in contention. He was doing everything right, making birdies and sinking clutch putts that were catapulting him to the top of the leaderboard. We abandoned the 17th to follow the rest of Rickie’s round. Because we make awesome decisions (outside the realm of sunscreen).

By the 18th hole, Rickie was -12 and on his way into what ended up being a three-man playoff between him, Garcia and Kevin Kisner. I actually teared up a little when he sank his putt on 18 to close out regulation, but didn’t have much time to think about it as the ENTIRE CROWD ran to get a spot watching the three-hole aggregate playoff. There were still groups coming in behind him, but everyone wanted a spot to see the Cobra cutie.

He signed his card, did what he needed to do, and headed out to face Garcia and Kisner on the 16th. Sergio was knocked out and sudden death found Fowler and Kisner back at the famous 17th…which Rickie birdied for the win.

I was crying. Not going to lie.

When they found out he was climbing the leaderboard, Fowler’s mom and sister left the airport (they were on the way home) and came back to surprise him. His girlfriend was there, ready to greet him with a big kiss that made the media go CRAZY.

By this time, we were heading home, and managed somehow to get lost. We’d been on this course for two straight days and couldn’t figure out which way the busses were. We were tired, burnt, dehydrated and in my case, elated. But it was bedtime.

It’s over. I survived. Sara and I fully plan to be back next year, but with industrial grade sunscreen.

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