PGA autograph seekers work hard for bounty
KIAWAH ISLAND — Getting a player’s autograph at the PGA Championship is performance art for kids — waving arms, screaming the player’s name and yelling anything to grab his attention at the ropes as he passes through the crowd between practice-round holes.
A few of the players, like Shaun Micheel, make a game of it. A lot of them respond to younger, eager-eyed fans who lock onto them. Bubba Watson even signed autographs in the golf shop after his Tuesday round.
But it’s no sure thing.
Today will be the last real chance for autograph hunters, the last of the more relaxed rounds of play before competition starts Thursday. After that, it’s luck of the draw when players come out of the scoring tent.
By Tuesday, David Thomas Walker, 9, and his brother Andrew Walker, 6, of Spartanburg, had managed to wrangle more than 30 autographs and five golf balls from players; Amy Walker, their mom, had photos taken with 25 players.
Micheel stopped in front of a group of yelling kids when he ended his Monday round and told them he would give his glove to the one who could guess the club he used to win the 2003 PGA Championship.
“Putter,” all of them yelled. No. “Wedge,” David Thomas Walker yelled, and then worked his way up the club selection until he called out, “7 iron.” The glove was his.
One adept pre-teen won an autograph from Peter Hanson by congratulating him on how he did at the Masters tournament, where Hanson finished two strokes behind Watson, the winner.
Anthony Molina, of Olney, Md., watched Sergio Garcia come out of a sandy area for a par save on the 16th hole and yelled, “Sergio! Mr. Garcia!” as the golfer finished. Garcia’s caddie came over and handed Molina the scuffed ball, with autograph.
The Walkers woke up well before dawn Tuesday to catch Tiger Woods for a few holes in his practice round, ducked a rainstorm, then staked out positions at the ninth green, right where the ropes meet at the players’ walk-through.
They hung onto the prime spot for more than an hour as kids crowded around them. By the time Woods teed up, the path was swarmed by children and adults waiting for Woods.
“Tiger,” the Walkers yelled. “Tiger!” Mom joined in, “We got up at 3:45 for you!”
But with thunder rumbling for the second time and rain about to fall, Woods and the other golfers with him hurried past the crowd to the clubhouse.