I performed at the pro-am pairings party last night here at the PODS and I laugh now at the questions some of the guys asked me after their draw. Ironically, the group that had the last pick in the afternoon draw got George McNeil. They came up to me and said, Mike, do you know George? Is he a nice guy? Who is he and what has he done? We got the short end of the stick, didnt we?
I proceeded to tell them what a great guy George is and how much fun theyre going to have and reminded them that he WON last year in Vegas. But everyone said the same thing after he won: Who the hell is George McNeil?! Even the guys who got David Duval asked me if they should talk to him when they got out there. That may seem like a valid question if you were playing with Greg Norman, a known unfriendly pro-am partner, but David Duval?
I had forgotten that most average fans dont know the players on the level that I am fortunate enough to know them. I told the guys how cool David is and how talkative he is, and encouraged them to talk fishing because Duval loves to fish. Of course the spokesman of the group says, I dont know the first freaking thing about fishing! I told him then he had homework to do; he didnt laugh. So I said look, these guys are just regular guys who can do one thing better than everyone else and that one thing puts them in a position that brings fame and sometimes fortune. But after all of that theyre just regular guys. Talk to them like regular guys and theyll do the same to you.
By the end of the night 20 or so guys had asked me the same type questions:
Who is Nathan Green? Bald Australian with a great sense of humor, a lot like me but with an accent, 40 pounds lighter, and white. Is Nick Watney nice? Yeah, but he is very soft spoken so when you ask him a question make sure youre standing close to him or you wont hear what he says.
What does Davis Love III like off the course? He rides motorcycles and loves skiing, but you have to talk to him about how he jacked his ankle up just walking! Even his doctor didnt believe him. Does Hunter Mahan really look like his picture on the screen? No, thats Gary Busey after his last arrest. Hunter has longer hair and loves to talk Dallas Cowboys football.
Does Boo really talk like that? Yep, and when you play with him ask him about fighting an orangutan. Yes, its true and yes he lost! Does Ryan Moore wear that goofy hat in practice rounds? Yep, and when he goes shopping.
You shouldve seen the guys with Steve Elkington when I told them he didnt have a bag sponsor. I thought one guy was going to get his check book out right there at the party and go wait on the driving range overnight to make Steve an offer.
I have to admit, sometimes because were out here 40 weeks a year it is easy to forget that most people dont know them like we (caddies, other players, and the media) know each other. I guess when it comes down to it, its a relatively small community and pretty tight knit. Occasionally all you see on TV is the guy whos on the golf course looking serious and determined. Never smiling, always focused on the task at hand, maybe a slight wave to the crowd every now and then. And thats mostly the medias fault.
How many of you look at Vijay and think, dont want to play with him. As a matter of fact I wouldnt even want to have a beer with him after a round. When the truth really is, Vijay is one of the most entertaining guys to be around on TOUR. Hes a constant cut up, always telling jokes and pulling pranks on other golfers and caddies. Tough to picture Vijay joking around when all youve ever seen is the serious guy in a tournament, and sometimes he even cuts up during a tournament! Its just never shown on TV.
Even the chosen one himself is not only a jokester during practice rounds, Tiger and David Feherty will have fart contests during the tournament! Believe me, Ive been next to both of them when theyve gone toe-to-toe (insert your own joke here!). And Tiger is the best in the world at THAT, too!! But David is a close second.
Email your thoughts to Michael Collins