Stalking Tiger Woods At The U.S. Open: Not Everyone Ready To Root For Him Again

Our resident motorsports expert Jeff Gluck took time away from his NASCAR duties on Thursday to trail Tiger around Pebble Beach. His report ...

Let's say you're in a non-smoking restaurant and someone suddenly lights up a cigarette.

There are always some people who, instead of talking to the offender directly, will make a loud comment to their friend so that the offender can hear their displeasure.

As in, "Ugh, I thought this was a non-smoking restaurant."

That's kind of how people acted in Tiger Woods' gallery yesterday when I followed Tiger during the first round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

What fans said to him was 100 percent positive. No one heckled, and only one person all day yelled out "That's what she said!" as a follow-up to "Get in the hole!" And that person was met with groans and glares.

He was greeted warmly at every hole and constantly heard "You da man, Tiger!" and "Let's go, Tiger!" and "Tigerrrrr!!!"

But throughout the day, some in the crowd made it clear that they weren't on board with cheering for an admitted cheater. 

He was showered with applause on the first tee, and some maids from the adjacent lodge even stood on the balcony and jumped up and down, clapping with glee at the very sight of him.

Some in the crowd were extremely enthusiastic, like the college-age dude who unleashed a "YEAHHHHHH!!!!" when Tiger hit his first tee shot – like his school's football team had just scored a touchdown in a rivalry game.

I'm not sure whether the "YEAHHH!!!" guy was a huge fan of Tiger or of the $7 Bud Lights which he had probably been drinking up until Tiger's 1:36 p.m. tee time, but I'm betting on the latter.

Anyway, after the wild cheers had died down and Tiger had walked past the gallery on the way to his second shot, a middle-aged man said (loudly) to his buddy, "They're cheering for Tiger?! I don't know about that..."

As Tiger attempted to navigate 18 holes (and I know that sounds dirty, but when it comes to Tiger, what doesn't?), the pattern was similar to the first hole.

The vast majority of people would cheer, and then someone would make a loud comment as a "Tsk tsk" to everyone else's behavior.

When Tiger hit a great sand shot on the second hole, an impressed fan yelled, "Tiger's back! Nobody can do that!"

Almost immediately, a man turned to his significant other – who had an alarmed look on her face – and said, "You know how forgiving people are. Americans..."

(By the way, I'm 99 percent sure these people were Americans themselves.)

On the par-3 seventh hole, which provides a spectacular view of the ocean but is difficult for spectators to see, a man with a view quietly gave a play-by-play to those who couldn't see despite standing on their tiptoes and craning their necks.

"He's teeing it up...he's addressing the ball..."

"He's getting a text message!" some jokester blurted out.

All of the sudden, it was comedy hour.

"There are no cell phones on the course," someone corrected.

"Well, he has one," the original jokester said.

"Yeah, we know that!" someone else said, and people in the crowd chuckled.

"I thought his wife broke it!" someone added.

As you can see it wasn't exactly the height of humor, but people simply couldn't help themselves from making comments about the elephant on the course.

Tiger had his typically massive galleries all day long, and about two dozen people even gathered on a public beach below the 10th hole just to catch a brief glimpse of one of the world's most famous people as he walked to the green.

I can't blame them. There was something oddly fascinating about the whole scene. All the controversy surrounding Tiger has given even him more of an aura and a presence.

When a ball from Tiger's group rolled into a sand trap near a pedestrian walkway on the 13th hole, a course official took a few steps to get a closer look.

He turned back toward a group of fans and said excitedly, "It's a Nike ball!"

Sure enough, Tiger walked up, sighed at the sight of the ball in the sand, and made his way down into the trap as a horde of people gathered to watch.

Two women whispered and pointed as if there was an actual tiger just feet away from them.

"Look at him...wow. He's right there!" one whispered.

"Isn't that amazing? He's so athletic." said the other.

On the 17th hole, Tiger fans filled the grandstand and seemed to ruffle the feathers of an older man who had been sitting there watching golfers come through all day (he made that obvious with loud comments).

A couple of men in their 30s began talking about their own personal wealth and how they wished Tiger's fortune was theirs.

"When you stand next to him, you're standing next to the richest 34-year-old in the world," one gushed.

The older man leaned forward.

"Not anymore!" he said with a cackle.

And really, that might be the most accurate statement anyone made all day.
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