Golf

No view off limits for overwhelming mass following Tiger Woods’ first round

Any available view of Tiger Woods’ group was taken.

Boundary ropes? What were those for?

And many shot photos and videos with their phones – prohibited at the U.S. Open.

So when Woods’ tee shot on the 12th hole landed on a walking path?

Pandemonium.

Mike Mathieus was one of the three course marshals with their arms linked, forming a human barricade around the ball after it had finished rolling down the path.

More marshals joined in and helped carve a space for Woods to walk in and hit his ball back onto the course surrounded by a swarm of spectators.

“We had three of us lock arms and we walked around the ball,” Mathieus said. “It rolled down and came to a stop here where Tiger hit it. We almost had people kicking it at first and then we got down there as quick as we could and got them back.

“Most people have good golf etiquette and know not to touch a ball, but if that hits a pebble and bounces off someone’s foot, then we could have problems.”

Even if the U.S. Open app had shut down, finding Woods’ group would have been simple. Look for the crowd.

Even though he shot a 10-over-par 80 – his worst-ever round in a U.S. Open – most of the shouts from the mass were words of encouragement.

“Tiger, Tiger boo-yah,” one yelled.

“I still love you Tiger,” said another.

“Rickie (Fowler) I love you, but I love Tiger more. Sorry.”

The ropes seemed to have little effect on the crowd following Woods’ journey from the first tee to the 18th green. Marshals were simply overwhelmed.

“It’s tough because they want to have a good time. They want to see their favorites,” said one marshal who only gave his first name, Dave. “There are great spots to watch golf from and other areas that aren’t as accessible. The crowds just want to get as close as they can.”

Just like on the 12th hole.

“It was a little rowdy, said Ken Fernando, who was with his two daughters, 10-year-old Triana and 8-year-old Keira. “People just flew to the ball and were yelling. We thought someone was drunk or hurt or something over there. We just got out of the way.”

Other views were more difficult.

Sean Tudor of Grandview was just trying to get a view of the 17th green, but the grandstands were full. A marshal initially told him he couldn’t stand on the steps, either, and that he had to step down.

“He said, ‘You can’t watch it from here. There are no seats,’” Tudor said. “But I said, ‘Why? We aren’t hurting anyone standing on the stairs. And luckily he was a nice guy and understood.

“But like, really? We can’t watch from the stairs. What are we doing wrong here?”

Then there’s the cellphone policy, which didn’t seem to be forced at all on the mass following Woods’ group..

“It’s been really hard to enforce,” Mathieus said. “Our biggest concern is no interfering with the players. No interfering with the ball. Cellphones, I’m just going to tell them to put them away.”

Woods teed off on the 18th hole – the final to his long day – and walked down from the tee box with his hands in his pockets before approaching a path cleared by ropes. Fans were lined across both sides.

They cheered as he approached. “You can still make it to the weekend,” one yelled.

Woods then looked to the crowd on his left, nodded and smiled and jogged across to the fairway.

Some views turned out pretty good.

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