Putting the Roar into 16


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. ' Its a journalistic score. Bigger than Tigers comeback date.
I got my hands on the list.
The list contains critical bits of information about every player in the FBR Open field. For example, Brian Bateman reads novels by Clive Cussler. Dustin Johnson played for the Dutch Fork High Silver Foxes. James Nitties dad was backup bassist for AC/DC. Matt Bettencourt once had a job selling shower doors after college.
The list belongs to Mike Leonard. Hes the leader of The Minnesota Boys, a group of guys whove made the trek every winter for the last decade from the frigid 'Land of a Thousand Lakes' to the Arizona desert. Just to greet the brave men who walk the roughly 17 steps through the tunnel and onto the tee box at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale.
Its 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' with free wheeling, audience participation. And the gang from up north comes fully prepared.
We rise out of bed early, get a few pre-game cocktails and arrive at the bleachers for a day of watching golf, drinking and cheering, said Leonard. Its fun to start a chant about a guys high school or small college and see the reaction they give us when they walk through the tunnel.
I couldnt believe they knew my dogs name was Brutus, past FBR champ Aaron Baddely said.
Walking to the tee is like seeing a police car in your rearview mirror, Joe Durant once explained. You dont know if theyre after you or not.
I thought it would be cool to do some research on all of the players to cheer for them as they came through the tunnel and teed off, said Leonard. We use anything from pet names to favorite hobbies. Thats how the cheat sheet or the list was born.
What are some of Leonard's most memorable chants?
'In 2005 Vijay (Singh) had recently fired his caddie,' he recounted. 'He'd teed off 10 on Friday morning and arrived at 16 around 9:30. We started singing, 'Who's you caddie?' As he walked toward the green he turned to us and said, 'Isn't it a little early?' He wasn't real happy with the chant but normally he loves the hole.'
In 2007 Brandt Snedeker was named Rookie of the Year. When he came through the tunnel the chant rang out, 'Rookie of the Year.' Leonard's friend, Brady Daggett, then yelled to Snedeker, 'Great plot, terrible movie!' He was refrerring to the baseball movie 'Rookie of the Year.' Said Leonard, 'Brandt got the joke and was laughing pretty hard on the tee box.'
Rookie Derek Fathauer can expect to hear a chant featuring the name Kelly Hemberger. Shes last Ocotobers Playboy Playmate of the Month and graduated with Derek from Martin High School in Kentucky. Theyll probably remind Jonathan Kaye that he once attached his player ID badge to the zipper of his pants. Its all on the list.
Leonards journey from Minnesota to the epicenter of the 16th-hole earthquake began 12 years ago.
My brother Dave and I were watching the tournament on TV back in Burnsville, Minn., completely unaware of the tournaments past, when Tiger made his hole-in-one, he said.
Two years later Dave began his freshman year at Arizona State. Hed gone with some friends to the 16th hole; at the time there were no bleachers or skyboxes.
He called me and told me what a cool experience it was, Mike recalled. So beginning in 2000 Ive flown in every year to attend the tournament.
The Thunderbirds, the civic organization which brilliantly runs the tournament, added bleachers in 2001 in an attempt to tone down the rowdiness and gain some control over the situation.
A lot of the original people that started the scene, the 16th-hole regulars, Mike said, they kind of thought the hole was dead and stopped going.
The hearty Minnesotans hung in. They were mostly friends from high school and later Gustavus Adolphus College. Theyd meet up with Mikes brother and his pals from Arizona State.
Besides chanting for the ASU guys like Mickelson and Mayfair and Minnesota guys like Lehman and Lumpy, said Mike, weve made it a tradition to wear maroon and gold on Friday for ASU and Vikings jerseys on Saturday because it is always Super Bowl weekend, even though the Vikes havent made a Super Bowl in our lifetime!
Mikes not sure how many more years theyll make the sojourn from Minnesota, but says its been the experience of a lifetime. For Mike and his buddies, that may be true. But for the players, its different.
Its the shortest, easiest, most intimidating hole in golf, said Baddely.
Rory Sabbatini should be very afraid. 'The list' reveals that he once said 'Tiger's as beatable as ever.' The Minnesota Boys are ready.
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