Norton (US), August 23
The scene is nearly as outdated because the Royal & Ancient sport.
Two buddies meet on the membership on a summer season morning for a quiet spherical of golf. They play properly at occasions, poorly at occasions and each assume their scores ought to have been higher.
And then they order just a few hamburgers and sit down at a picnic desk to eat lunch and share just a few laughs.
On Saturday, this was Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
They are two of the most important names in golf. No one has been No. 1 on the planet longer than them during the last 20 years. They draw the most important galleries wherever they play.
That’s what made this event at The Northern Trust so eerie, even when it is now frequent. There was nobody there to look at apart from these in a working capability — digicam crew, a half-dozen writers, photographers, Norton cops on bikes, just a few volunteers on every gap.
Imagine with the ability to stroll round with two of golf’s finest for what felt like an informal spherical of golf. In their case, it additionally appeared like an informal spherical.
Woods used his putter to go over a steep slope from behind the 18th inexperienced, and he made a 6-footer coming again to finish with a birdie. It was this third of the day, not sufficient to account for the 5 bogeys in his 2-over 73. Most uncommon about this spherical is that he did not break par regardless of hitting 12 of 14 fairways.
McIlroy two-putted for birdie on the 18th, his fourth birdie in his spherical of 74.
There was no recovering from two triple bogeys on his opening six holes. McIlroy began with a brief birdie on No. 1, and he hit a magnificence to 10 toes on the par-Three third gap with the pin tucked behind a bunker.
In between, he got here up simply in need of the inexperienced on the par-5 second, the ball barely contained in the hazard. He tried to chip out, however McIlroy caught an excessive amount of grass from a clumsy stance and a nasty lie. The ball went behind him into water, and since it was a yellow hazard, he had to return 110 yards to the golf green. He made triple bogey.
The scorecard learn 3-8-2.
McIlroy was overheard saying his card learn like an space code. That quantity hasn’t been assigned an space code within the United States, although he is perhaps to know it is the nation code for Montenegro.
There was no time to share this pertinent data. Woods and McIlroy each opted to not converse to the media after their rounds, commonplace this late within the season within the third spherical of a match through which they had been out of rivalry.
They did go to the media middle, however solely to order hamburgers on the kiosk — it has been a well-liked all week — seize a seat at a picnic desk and chat for the subsequent 30 minutes, undisturbed.
It’s a reminder of golf on the highest stage whereas dealing with a pandemic. No spectators have been allowed at any match because it returned two months in the past.
Players are used to it by now, and a few have talked concerning the ease of getting round with out a lot visitors and distraction.
But there is not any vitality, and that is no enjoyable, both.
Birdies or bogeys, and even the pair of triple bogeys belonging to McIlroy, all get the identical response. Everyone is enjoying in the identical surroundings, however some gamers — Woods and McIlroy are good examples — have talked about drawing from the noise, changing the cheers of a birdie into some momentum.
The TPC Boston did have three spectators, certainly one of them shouting after Woods teed off on the par-5 seventh in such a means that some folks do not miss the followers in any respect.
“YOU’RE THE MAN, TIGER!” got here the voice out of nowhere.
Three males had lower by way of the thick woods and located a spot — simply contained in the pink hazard line — some 50 yards behind the seventh tee, subsequent to a small pond. McIlroy hit subsequent, after which officers appeared across the bushes to search out the supply of the yell and approached the boys, all sitting in garden chairs.
It seemed to be a pleasing dialog, and the boys packed up their chairs and left.
They noticed Woods and McIlroy hit drives on a par 5. Better than nothing. — AP