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Mystery man is part of a near-perfect week

Aside from about a 90-minute break for lightning Friday morning, the weather at the Wells Fargo Championship has been perfect. Everybody is upbeat, or does a good job faking it. Tiger Woods isn't here.

I need to encounter somebody bitter so I don't go into shock when I leave Quail Hollow Club.

I find him. After interviewing a golfer on his way from the locker room to the putting green, I ask a group of kids who he is. He signs autographs, so I figure they'll know.

"We can't read his handwriting," the kids say.

Kids today. I could have asked the golfer his name, but if I interview a guy I ought to know who he is.

"You're inside the ropes, man," says a big guy, an old guy, with a Scottish brogue. "And ya don't know who he is."

"He has terrible handwriting," I say.

"You're inside the ropes," the old guy says. "And ya don't even know."

"Ask me who the Carolina Panthers are," I say, the weakest comeback anybody will offer at the golf course all week.

"So that's how it is," the old man says disgustedly.

I don't need to know who all these guys are to enjoy their work.

I shouldn't enjoy it. I don't play. I quit before I became good enough to be frustrated.

I don't even own golf attire. I see fans wearing pants and shirts with crazy checks and patterns that look like the upholstery on the sofa I gave to the Salvation Army in 1997. At least somebody got some use out of it.

I see the houses that ring the course, the guys in the sports jackets, shirts and shorts chewing cigars, and the mannequin women in the clubhouse that probably put on makeup before they go to the gym, and expect pretension.

But the atmosphere is loose and happy and there is lots of beer.

A guy drives a golf cart with a Geico Caveman propped up on the front. Two women see Sergio Garcia walk past between the ropes and swoon backward in his path, a guy taking their picture. Garcia laughs. Kids beg Predraig Harrington for a ball as he walks to the fourth tee and he flips it to a kid who is so surprised he drops it and then there's a scrum for the ball, kids piling on each other.

Lucas Glover, formerly of Clemson, wears a fat beard that is more Tiger than Tour. Glover leads the tournament for a while. Six fans at No. 13 wear "Fear the Beard" T-shirts, the words written in Clemson orange.

No matter who you are, you will, if you walk the course long enough, run into half the people you know. They'll all claim they got in free. Many will hold a beer. A few will hold two.

Also, there are sundresses. It's like a football game on a sunny day at Georgia.

And isn't that former Panthers coach John Fox? Hey, Coach, what have you been up to since the season ended? Fox carries a Denver Broncos golf bag Wednesday and wears a Denver Broncos shirt. I'm thinking he was not unemployed long.

There's Bryan Bigley, who does course maintenance at Raintree Country Club, and won the last qualifying slot in the Wells Fargo. A groundskeeper who lines football fields is unlikely to play on Sunday in the NFL. A guy that mows the infield is unlikely to start at third base for a Major League Baseball team.

But Bigley, 26, competed against some of the best golfers in the world Thursday and Friday, and he did it with grace, although his putter betrayed him.

After the first round Thursday, I drive to a restaurant near the course, find a stool at the bar, and order takeout and a beer. All right, two beers. The guy next to me is playing in the tournament; I saw him in the putting green and have seen him in an interview room, but I have no idea who he is.

I look over my shoulder. The old, big Scottish guy is not here.

I let the golfer eat in peace and, when he sets down his beer, ask him if he likes coming to Charlotte. He says he loves the course and the fans and the way he is treated.

I pick up my food and wish him luck.

"Thanks," he says. "I appreciate that. And I hope you have a great evening."

I'm not wearing my press pass. He treats me the way he would a fan, with class.

I go to the record book Friday to find his picture. If his name begins with a Z, this could be an all-morning endeavor.

But at Quail Hollow this week, things tend to work out.

The Official PGA Tour Guide has 427 pages of player biographies.

Chad Campbell is on page 25.

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