Today was the first day of the McDonald's LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock Country Club in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Well, kind of the first day. Today was one of the Pro-Am days, where the sponsor's corporate pals get to play a round of golf with one of the LPGAs professionals. I guess you have to be a corporate high-roller or one of McDonald's big suppliers to get invited, and from what I heard, hackers came from all over the country to drive balls into the sand and miss 4-foot putts with some of the best golfers in the world.
I didn't go to the Pro-Am last year, so I thought I'd run down there this year and see what goes on. The answer: Not too much. Since most of the girls played on Sunday in South Carolina, the field was pretty slim, and mostly made up of whomever didn't make last week's cut or didn't play at all. The big attraction was Natalie Gulbis, who would be the big attraction no matter who showed up.
I could have spared myself getting up at 6am, since Natalie didn't tee-off until 12:30. Without the crush of fans, it was pretty easy to snap a few photos and collect a few autographs of some of my favorite players.
Among the throng were the usual group who seemed more interested in collecting names than in actually ... well, knowing who they are. Many times I got nudged and asked, "Who's that?" while the autograph seeker fumbled for his pen. "Ooooh ... she must be somebody!" whenever anyone showed up in those spiky shoes and a visor. Granted, it isn't everyone who can tell Leta Lindley from Sandra Gal, but geez, if you're going to bother them for a signature, you should at least know whom you're bothering. They're so nice to us, that it's the least we can do to know who we're talking with. Call me a weirdo, but I don't ask someone for an autograph if I don't know who I'm asking.
Leta should have been recognizable to anyone who follows the game. She won two weeks ago at Corning. Sandra Gal is a promising rookie who most people don't know, but give her time and you probably will. Natalie is about as nice as can be. She took time to sign our autograph requests and even pose for a photo or two for people who presumably knew whom they were posing with. It's the first time I've seen her (she didn't play last year) and seeing how she handles herself and how nice she is to people, I have to admit that I'm a bigger fan than I was before.
The photo below is this year's collection of souvenir golf balls, joining last year's Paula Creamer and Annika Sorenstam. That's Natalie (top), Sandra Gal (left) Morgan Pressel and Leta. The balls have the Bulle Rock logo on the other side, so they're nice little mementos of another day on the golf course that even a two-hour traffic jam on Route 95 couldn't screw up.
Normally,it's a little more than an hour drive to and from - 65 miles exactly - on Interstate 95 to exit 85. At 2 o'clock, after walking 6 holes with Natalie, I sent a text message to one of my riding buddies and told him I'd be home in time to do our 6pm ride with the shop. I even figured I'd have a little time for a nap. Construction on I-95 stopped traffic outside Newark and it took 90 minutes to travel 3 miles. I wish I'd had my bike. What should have taken a little more than an hour took almost 3, and I waddled in the front door at 5:30. Nothing like a little stress to finish the day. And yes, I made the ride.
Tuesday: The Dave Matthews Band at the Susquehanna Center in Camden, NJ.