I don't even know where to begin. Should I start with the registration table at the front of Warwick Hills Golf and Country Club at 6 a.m.? Bob Seger pulls up in some beat-up two-door coupe, and I'm so awe-struck that I ignore the ladies at the registration table, asking me my name. And who is beside me a few minutes later at the driving range? Bob Seger.
Or maybe I should start with how nervous I was on the first teebox - hole No. 10. K.J. Choi, the pro we're playing with, received a nice round of applause when they announced his name to the crowd. But when I approached the teebox and my name was announced - silence. I, of course, turned around to the crowd and said, "What? No one's going to clap for me?" My teammates - Vanessa Bishop Diggs, Tyrone Fletcher and Nate Pilon - plus our caddies erupted into a dull roar for me. So, what did I do? Stuck one down the middle of the fairway. Here's where I have to brag a little. Choi and I were the only ones to hit the fairway on our opening tee shots. And he said, "Good shot," after I teed off.
Or maybe I should start with my birdie on the 500-yard par 5 13th. Yes, it was a net birdie, meaning my handicap scoring played a role in that. But I missed a net eagle putt by about six inches.
There were plenty of accolades to go around. We finished 13 under for the day, which still wasn't good enough for a first-place trophy. That went to a team at 17 under. But everyone on our team contributed, and we finished in the top 10. Tyrone played well today, carding several birdies. But the fan favorite was Vanessa. She eagled (net) No. 16, a long par 5, and she stuck her tee shot a few feet from the pin on No. 17, the famous watery par 3 that often draws the biggest galleries at the Buick Open. She received more applause for those two shots than I think Tiger Woods did when he played through. Maybe. I do know that our team beat his team, which finished at 11 under on the day.
Or maybe I should start with the autographs that I signed today. But it wasn't about my golfing. It was about UNC. Naturally, I'm decked out in Tar Heels gear, and a couple of young kids see my hat and start yelling, "Go Heels." They apparently followed my group to the next hole, and as we're heading to the next teebox, they call me over to the ropes. "I gotta get a UNC autograph. I just gotta." I signed three autographs there, including one on a doll that the man said was for his daughter. Strange. Then, one woman asked me to sign her pairings sheet.
Like I said, I don't know where to start. But I think I'll finish up this little excerpt with an attaboy for my caddy, Chris. I didn't get his last name, but he said he's vying for Caddy of the Year at Warwick Hills. And I can see why. He helped me line up putts, always had my club ready for me, cleaned my golf balls and always had a positive attitude no matter where my ball went. And it went some crazy places several times. Chris even manned the still camera and the video camera during the round. A couple of people asked me if he was my son. But whoever his father is, he should be proud because Chris is a good kid.
Well, those are some of the highlights of one of the Top 10 experiences I've had. There'll be more later, and I'll add pictures in a few days. I tried downloading them to my laptop, but I'm having difficulties. I'll try again when I get home on my desktop.
In the meantime, look out for the next installment from the Buick Open. Tomorrow, I'll be spending the day in the media tent and following some of the players around. I have media credentials, so i should be able to get up close and personal.
So let's recap:
Best celebrity moment: Hitting balls next to Bob Seger.
Worst celebrity moment: Seeing Shane Battier walk past me on the driving range.
Best golf shot: Tee shot on No. 10 (the first shot of the day)
Worst golf shot: Hitting over a bunker, standing with the crowd a few feet away, hearing a man say, "There is no bunker." And then dropping it into the bunker.
Best K.J. Choi moment: Getting a hug from him after draining a long par putt.
Worst K.J. Choi moment: ?
Best caddy moment: Getting lucky and drawing Chris.
Worst caddy moment: When Vanessa's caddy dropped her bag three times before we teed off and broke it.
Funniest moment: When Nate hit into the wrong fairway twice, and both times, he hit into Stuart Appleby's fairway. Appleby asked him, "Haven't you already played this fairway?"
Strangest moment: Signing autographs
Best part of the day: Walking the course like the pros and hearing the galleries moan when we miss that 10-foot double-bogie putt and yell and clap when we make that 15-foot bogie putt.