When it comes to watching sports live, fans and athletes alike can agree that it's a privilege to be inside the action. There's a point in enjoying live sports where the television cannot reach, a point that only being there can give you. Fortunately for me, this summer I was privileged enough (alongside a gallery of 60,000 fans) to feel that difference at the 2007 PGA Championship.
As millions of golf fans watched Tiger's 13th major victory win on Aug. 12 this at the Southern Hills Golf Club in Tulsa, Okla., I am able say that I was one of the thousands of fans in the sun scorched seats that Sunday. While the price of water seemed to cost more than unleaded gas, and the heat was enough to drive the average fan running back home for their air conditioners, Sunday was a special day for golf, and even more so for me.
When my dad and I discovered that the PGA Championship was coming back to Tulsa, it seemed we had no choice in the matter, and it was our responsibility as die-hard Tiger Woods fans to go. As a young athlete in golf, I look up to Tiger as well as a handful of other players on tour as motivation to try and be as best as I can. Being able to go and see that in person, I knew this would be something I wouldn't soon forget and could use for my game.
Arriving at the course at 10 a.m., I was allowed to follow other great players; among my favorites were Ernie Els and Adam Scott. Following them, I began to notice a trend, of how their mental focus and a contagious business like attitude walked hand in hand with how they were playing. It became more and more obvious that their mental status seemed to be run by their good or bad shots, and even more so, the more something happened, the more it would effect how they would conduct themselves. If I had to pick one thing that I learned during my trip, it would be how important a good mental game is and what it can do for you.
It seems that skill aside, youth golfers have a hard time working past bad shots and keeping their focus on the rest of their game. I can say I'm one of those who struggle, and in some cases, staying positive and forgetting past shots can be impossible.
A blistering 101 degrees by 11 a.m. would have been enough to send me back to the hotel, the only problem was Tiger hadn't teed off yet, and it would be hours until his time was up. Staking myself by the shade and water fans posted around the course, I was able to tough it out for when it was Tiger's turn to play.
From the first tee to the 18th green, Tiger seemed to be in the zone, his shot shaping and course management seemed to be perfect, and it seemed the whole gallery was right behind him cheering. While fighting my way through for any visual contact was difficult enough, personal space and courtesy seemed to be a long lost ritual. Each and every green was engulfed with fans taking every possible slot to get a view, not to mention looking down the fairways lined with thousands of people. Needless to say the course was packed for one player.
By the end of the day Tiger won his 13th major title and his second consecutive PGA Championship, and I was just happy to be on my way back to the hotel. While I had a fantastic time being there, and learned so much more than I planned on, nothing seemed more appropriate than an air conditioned hotel room, a pool outside my window and free water.