A Sense of Huber: Championship memories

By Jim Huber
Published on

The 93rd PGA Championship is history now and my notebook is crammed with memories. As they rattle about the Athletic Club, dismantling the trappings of a major, as two-story suites come down and rows of port-a-potties pass, let's look back a week.

--One has no clue when a 63 might suddenly emerge but, in hindsight, Steve Stricker probably wishes it had come a bit later than the first round. Though he contended the rest of the way, it was clear he had shot his wad far too early, the way Nick Price and Greg Norman did with their 63's at Augusta years ago.

--The sight of a disheartened and demoralized Tiger Woods was something I thought I would never see. The powerful shoulders slumped, the eyes glazed, the breath came in gulps. The consensus was that if one has to reach rock bottom before beginning the climb, then he was there.
"He's lost, isn't he?" Charles Barkley sadly said to me. "One of his problems is, he has no friends left and that's his fault. Michael (Jordan) and I have tried to reach out for two years, so has Smoltzie, but he has never returned our phone calls, changed his number, all that. It's brutal to watch."

--Sergio Garcia's game may indeed be coming around but it's not because he's working hard on the range. Every day, he went straight to the short game area and spent 15-20 minutes working there before going to the first tee. Not once did he go to the range itself.

--Chubby Chandler, the super-agent who had the year's first three major champions and four of the last five, never failed to join Lee Westwood on the range before his rounds. "Not a mother hen," he laughed to me, "more like a father confessor." But there is a story beneath his story; turns out he sold 75 percent of his agency-ISM-the day before Louis Oosthuizen became his first at the Open Championship in 2010. He remains the stalwart friend and manager to Oosthuizen, Swatzel, McIlroy, Westwood, et al, but his bank account isn't growing as chubby as it might have.

--The players, to a man, groused about the sand in the Athletic Club bunkers but we members could have told them how bad it was long ago.

--That said, it was with great pride that we hosted the PGA. From the blimp, it looked spectacular, from the HD cameras, just spotless. The new grasses drew raves from the players and they can thank us (who had to use mats) for the pristine nature of the fairways. You're welcome.

--Phil Mickelson, ever concerned about us, said the course was great for the championship but terrible for the members, forgetting that most of us play it a good thousand yards shorter. If we ever get near the back tee on that 268-yard par-3 15th, it's because nature calls. The wildflowers, you know.

--The difference between Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner was astounding. Bradley, with bright welcoming eyes and a ready smile; Dufner looking like he'd just climbed out of bed, affable but wary. Bradley, who came to the range a full two hours before his tee time on the weekend; Dufner with just enough time to get himself loose. But all of that said, what a remarkable stretch run they delivered!

--All in all, a wonderful week. And now it's all gone, just vanished, like it never quite happened in real life, just a dream. Magic, pure magic.

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