Great Crowds At The Open

Frank Sinatra felt that if he could make it in New York he could make it anywhere. The U.S. Open has certainly done that, only it had already made a name for itself before arriving in New York. And for all of those who watched the tournament's events last week, it was clear who made a name for themselves.

Sunday evening marked the end of the year's second major on the PGA Tour schedule, and yes, once again another victory for Tiger Woods. Halfway towards a same-season grand slam, a modern-day golf accomplishment that has not even been considered achievable in the past, one might think this would provide an interesting topic to write about. But as the voices from the throng of New York faithful who attended the 2002 U.S. Open echoed throughout my mind, I was reminded of the great impact the fan has on sports.

Being a native Seattleite and having lived the past two years with a number of pure-bred Long Islanders, it is hard to admit, but I have to give my due to these fans. Their booming cheers for the late Saturday charge by Phil Mickelson, chants for Justin Leonard's Texas Longhorns that rose as the weather cleared on Sunday evening, and even some of the playful jeers for the second coming of the human rain delay, Sergio Garcia, were much appreciated. Face it, these fans were good for the game of golf.

The aura surrounding this Open seemed to be enigmatic throughout the four days, as no one really knew what to make of all the noise. Maybe that is because no one has ever heard noise like this on a golf course before. Or, could it possibly be that golf fans have gotten so used to the "appropriate" greeting for a terrific putt, or approach shot that they have never learned to roar their approval for such incredible feats or talent?

Granted, there will always be the fair number of golf geeks who feel that their "You da man" shouts, or harassment of particular golfers who exhibit indifferent personalities are "their just rights as fans." This year's Open was no different, as some of the fans took it upon themselves to answer back to the middle finger Sergio Garcia flipped during Friday's round. Chants of "U-S-A", "U-S-A" could be heard on Saturday, as well as off-color remarks about Garcia's current relationship with tennis star Martina Hingis.

But for all of the drawbacks and pitfalls, for once it was fun to listen to the behavior of the crowd. They pushed the envelope right to the edge of what could be considered inappropriate behavior for a golfing event, yet still managed to maintain a level of dignity that many if not all of the golfers appreciated and enjoyed.

The game of golf will always hold itself and its patrons to a certain level of maturity. But maybe this year's Open – The People's Open – will provide an example for the fans of future tournaments to come.

Let's face it, the game of golf has risen exponentially in its popularity since Tiger Woods laid claim to one of Earth's hottest athletic icons… and without question he has done that. As a result, people who once saw a game tailored for those with plastic teeth and poorly working bladders, have taken an interest. Now marks an opportunity for more growth.

By no means am I suggesting that a tour event resemble that of a Duke men's basketball game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, but what would happen if fans were encouraged to become a little more vocal?

Chris Davis is a student at the UofA and works at Fox Sports Radio. This is his first column for Cat Tracks. Chris is an avid golf fan as well as a huge Wildcat fan. Send feedback to


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