So much for planning as most everything we did today took entirely too long to complete. We actually got to the parking lot in Bethesda, MD (a combination of several office building lots near I-270) a bit before 9:30. As we were driving in though we noticed an extremely large line for the shuttle buses that carry the gallery members over to the course. Josh and I decided to give it a shot (I had already purchased my ticket on the internet the night before) and go get in line. Since the course does not allow cell phones during the tourney, I had left mine in the car and had texted my brother earlier, telling him to meet us on the course at 11:00. Nate was running a little late and we would get to the course before him.
After realizing the line would take a while I borrowed a woman's cell phone and called Nate. He was actually pulling into parking at the time so I told him to meet up with us in line. He was able to find us and we continued to wait in line together. This line went around multiple office buildings and weaved back and forth in a pattern reminiscent of a major attraction at Kings Dominion. At just about 11 AM, over 1.5 hours since we got to the parking lot, we finally got to the front of the line and boarded a big Peter Pan bus. Thankfully Josh behaved through most of this and did not need to go to the bathroom or acquire any water.
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The next source of pain was the bus ride. Thank to congested Potomac, MD roads and poor planning by the tourney organizers, it took us about an hour to go four miles on the route shown above. Multiple people in the bus in front of us were getting off and walking. Our driver refused to let anyone off though and claimed that the driver in front of us was breaking tournament regulations. Luckily I had my iPod and Josh was able to pass the time playing a game on it. At about Noon we got to the course and headed in. Picking up my ticket at Will Call was easy and we made it in time to watch Tiger hit his approach shot at 8, drain a short 3-foot birdie putt to take the lead in the tournament and hit his final drive of the day on the 9th hole. That's it. Three shots from Tiger and we moved on. So much for following him for a few holes. A funny moment occurred when Josh whispered to me asking if Lucas Glover (the recent U.S. Open champion who was paired with Tiger today) was Tiger Woods as he was lining up to putt. I guess every golfer in a Nike hat could be classified as Tiger in a 4 year old's mind.
We stopped for some lunch near the 9th tee and then walked the course a bit, stopping at an AT&T promotional tent to use the free cell phones there to call Lori. She was expecting me home at about 2 PM and I had to tell her we were 2 hours late in getting on the course. Josh had a good time overall and experienced a very cool moment on the 16th tee. I told him to try to give a high five to some golfers coming off the 15th green. A group of relatively unknown golfers was coming through and Jason Gore (one of the longest hitters on tour) gave Josh an exaggerated huge high five. Right after this, another golfer's caddy (Webb Simpson) gave Josh the ball Simpson used on the previous hole. A nice new Titleist Pro VI that was marked for official play. Josh really thought this was cool and I made sure I kept the ball in my pocket so he wouldn't lose it.
All in all it was a frustrating day as we ended up leaving the course just after 3:00. We got a good three hours on the course but the price we paid getting there may not have been worth it. The icing on the cake was the shuttle ride back to the parking lot. There was no line getting on the bus and no traffic out on the roads. BUT!!! We had the worst shuttle driver and he got lost trying to go on an alternate route back to Bethesda. He was on the verge of crossing into Washington, DC when several passengers questioned his route and made him turn around and head a different way. He said he was just following directions he was given. So it took us nearly an hour to get back to our car. At 4:15 we headed home and Josh finally was able to take a little nap on the drive back.
Hopefully the tourney organizers learn something from today's debacle and the tournament is run much more smoothly when it returns to the DC area in a few years. The next two years the tourney will be held in Philadelphia as Congressional prepares for the 2011 U.S. Open. I can only imagine the logistic issues in holding THAT event at Congressional.