To the couple hundred folks who sit in the audience, I suppose it looks pretty simple, a nice, casual fireside-chat with the winners of the season's four major championships.
It's a special evening we have been at now for over a decade in the midst of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
In the beginning, weather permitting, it was on an outdoor stage at the host hotel in Hawaii. As four of the more celebrated chefs from around the islands did their thing at food stations surrounding the crowd, I did mine. One by one, the champions climbed aboard a stool next to me and, well, we just talked.
Tiger was there our first year but decided this was a little beneath him so he opted out. He quickly learned how much fun the other three had that night and never missed another. Vijay Singh tried bypassing the stairs and simply leaping onto the stage one night and very nearly took himself out. It would not have looked good on his resume. One after another over the years, they let their hair down and told wonderful tales.
When the Slam moved seven time zones to the east a few years ago and settled in Bermuda, the atmosphere for the Champions Celebration became a bit more formal. On our initial evening there, a royal marching band paraded through the huge hall. It was decided (not by me) that to follow the theme, I should wear the formal Bermuda shorts and long black socks. To my chagrin, I did and as I settled uncomfortably on my stool to begin the show, my eyes slowly focused on one woman on the front row below me.
Catherine Zeta-Jones, with her husband Michael Douglas, who have lived in Bermuda for decades, smiled demurely as (I suspected) she looked up my shorts.
Thankfully, the shorts lasted just the one year.
Several years ago, we had our first interpreters which was a lot smoother than I expected. Angel Cabrera and Y.E. Yang provided, through their wordmen, some of the best moments in the Celebration's history.
And so it approaches again. Tuesday night after the first round. For one of the first times in awhile, all four champions will be there, not an alternate in sight.
And as it approaches, so do the nerves deep within. It might look casual but it's anything but for me. Though I go without notes and formulate my questions much as I might if I was out for a stroll with them, I know that my responsibility is large. It is, after all, a show and the four men-Charl Schwartzel, Rory McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Keegan Bradley-are the stars.
It's my job to help them shine.
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