Sunday, June 24, 2001
The most interesting thing today is getting everyone here. Right now it's 10 p.m., and as far as I know only three of the 16 participants have arrived at the hotel. Everyone should be checking-in within the next couple of hours. I know Jeff Quinney (Team USA) was supposed to arrive yesterday, but had trouble with his flight, and spent the night in San Fransisco. He finally landed in Newark at about 3:30 this afternoon.
I left Little Rock this morning (about an hour late), and consequently missed my connection from Atlanta to New Jersey. I flew into Newark two hours later than I had anticipated, but it wasn't all bad...the airline upgraded me to first class for the inconvenience. That's not too bad of a deal for me!
After winding our way through the airport traffic, Jamie Elson (Team GB&I), Jeff Quinney, Coach Tim Brown (Tournament Director) and I all went to Baltusrol for dinner, which was fun. It's such a great atmosphere, and the course looks beautiful! It was great to see the course again after competing in the U.S. Amateur here last year. It was neat to sit back and watch Jeff as the staff and members talked to him about his win at the 2000 Amateur. I'm sure this week will bring back some great memories for him.
With it being this early in the week, Jamie Elson and I were able to laugh and talk a bit, but later in the week, I'm sure it won't be quite like that. We chatted about different topics, one of those being the Northeast Amateur in Rhode Island. Turns out that Luke Donald beat one of my USA teammates, Erik Compton, in a six-hole playoff.
Erik and the rest of Team USA are driving down from Rhode Island along with Coach (Bob) Ellis (Team USA Coach) and Philip Rowe of the GB&I team. The remaining Great Britain and Ireland players are flying in from London and should be here shortly.
I'm looking forward to tomorrow. We'll tee-off pretty early for a practice round, then head back to the hotel to change clothes before we go to New York City for the evening. After dinner in Little Italy, both teams are going to the inaugural baseball game at the new ballpark at Coney Island. The Mets' single-A farm team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, are going to play the first professional baseball game in Brooklyn since the Dodgers left. I think we'll all have a great time! I'll tell you all about it tomorrow.
Monday, June 25, 2001
Today started early...very, very, very early. One of the coaches (I'm not sure which one, because it was too early to tell) called Scott Lander and I to wake us up at about 5 o'clock. It was especially early for the guys that got in late last night. We made it out to the course eventually, and started looking through all of our stuff. We all had gloves, hats, belts, golf balls and all kinds of things. It was almost like Christmas. If we didn't get Christmas when we got all of our clothes, we definitely have it now.
We started our practice round from the number four tee, which is a 200-yard par 3 over water. Considering how early it was and that I hadn't hit a ball in three days, that first shot was pretty scary. Most of the guys' first shots were okay, but Jeff Quinney put his in the pond.
We went through the rest of the course, and it looked great! By the time we got to number 1, some of us decided to come in early and not play holes 1-3. Most of us have played the course before, and wanted to rest because we have a lot of golf ahead of us this week. We caught a bite to eat after the round, and relaxed for a bit.
Then at 3:45 p.m. both teams met downstairs at the hotel and boarded the 30-person Navigator limosine that was awaiting us. We drove to Manhatten for the evening, and ate dinner at a restaurant called Paglio's in Little Italy. The wait staff brought us a family-style dinner for all 26 of us. There were huge plates of bread, pasta, salad, chicken and all kinds of stuff. It was tremendous!
Our driver told us that while we were eating people kept asking him who the limo was for and who the celebrities were. He said he didn't know, it was just a bunch of college kids playing in a golf tournament. I thought that was pretty funny. We all had a good time watching the faces of the people outside wondering who was in the limo...little did they know it was just us.
After dinner we headed out to watch the inaugural game at the new baseball stadium at Coney Island. The Brooklyn Cyclones minor league team opened their new park in style. There's a very festive atmosphere there...it seats about 7,000 people and Coney Island sits just beyond the outfield. Several of the Great Britain and Ireland players had never been to a baseball game before, so it was an interesting experience for them. We had to leave early to get back to the hotel...and it's really too bad. Turns out the home team was down 2-0 in the ninth inning with two outs, when one of their players tied it up with a homerun! I saw it on the news, and the crowd just went crazy. Brooklyn won 3-2 in extra innings.
It's getting late, so I'm going to get some sleep. I look forward to playing the course tomorrow at the Collegiate-Am. It'll be interesting to see which college players get paired with the best (and worst) amateurs. Talk to you tomorrow.
Tuesday, June 26, 2001
We got to sleep in a little bit today...some more than others. Everyone on the team woke-up at 7 a.m. this morning (everyone except for John Engler and Lucas Glover). Coach Ellis phoned them for their wake-up call, Lucas answered and then went back to sleep. They thought they were supposed to wake-up at about 8:15, so we all made sure they didn't forget about it the rest of the day.
We made it to the course pretty much on time, and got ready for the opening ceremony. We dressed in coat and tie, and man, was it hot out there! We were all sweating while we were waiting for the ceremony to get started. The ceremony was pretty cool. We all walked out single-file and Jeff Quinney had to speak on behalf of the team. He was pretty nervous about that since it will be on The Golf Channel in September, before the Ryder Cup. Jeff didn't think his speech was very good, but I wasn't listening, so I couldn't tell you for sure.
Five minutes before we walked out, I found out that I was supposed to raise the American flag while the national anthem was played. I had never done anything like that before, so I was pretty nervous. The staff said that last year's ceremony was messed-up because someone raised the flag at the wrong time. As if that wasn't enough to make me nervous, I heard someone tell me to raise it one way, and another told me to raise it a different way. Then someone told me that if the flag touches the ground, we have to burn it. One of the staff members finally showed me the proper way to do everything, and it turned out fine...I was relieved.
After the ceremony, we played the Collegiate-Am with the sponsors. It was fun...they set up a good format (we got to play our own ball). What really made it enjoyable was the live-scoring system that was set up. BlueGolf gave us handheld computers that we put our scores into while we were on the course. The scores were sent over wireless internet to a server, and immediately posted on BlueGolf.com and on our handhelds. We all got to keep up with the leaderboard while we were on the course. It was pretty awesome. It's really I think the product of the future for golf events especially like this.
Nick Cassini was playing behind me, and I got to see him shoot a great round of 64 (-8) on this golf course. That was pretty impressive. I hope he's got four more rounds like that for the tournament.
After the College-Am we all cleaned-up really quick and went to The Office. The Office is a restaurant pretty close to the golf club, and they have some wonderful desserts. Nick Cassini and Lucas Glover shared an apple crisp dessert, and they happen to be playing together tomorrow afternoon. I guess that was a little team bonding.
That was pretty much all for the day. I'm eager to get started tomorrow morning. All eight USA players shot under par in the Collegiate-Am today, so hopefully that will carry over to the matches.