Last Updated on Saturday, 16 June 2012 17:54
Saturday, 16 June 2012 17:15
By 10:55 a.m., the crowds were massed by the first tee to see Phil Mickelson and Alex Cejka out for their their rounds of golf.
And while the hillsides were packed, it won't even be half of what it will look like when Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk make their way there in the late afternoon.
It's a beautiful, sunny afternoon in San Francisco and there promises to be some suspense-filled golf here at the Olympic Golf Club.
The biggest news of the early starters came from Englishman Lee Westwood and his Aussie playing partner John Senden.
Both started at (+5), but Senden's 68 was one worse than the sterling 67 Westwood put up.
Westwood is so laid back that it's hard to believe he would be stressed enough about holding the title of Best Player Not To Win a Major.
When one media wag asked him the difference between himself and Sergio Garcia, who admitted earlier this year that he might never win a Major, Westwood gave his answer with a laugh and a chuckle.
"i play golf for a living. It's not a bad way to pass time," said Westwood. "I'm a half-glass full kind of guy. … Normally my glass is empty."
Yup, Westwood looks like he'll be celebrating his 67 tonight with a pint or two. Senden said he had a lot of fun playing with Westwood, as the two fed off each to post two of the best Saturday scores.
"We had a good day," said the affable Aussie. "Lee is the highest-ranked player left in the field and we had a good day. We chatted."
It's good to see a couple of players are having a good day because Canadian Stephen Ames had nothing short of a horrific day.
Shooting 79 didn't dampen Ames' enthusiasm because he had son Ryan with him. Ames said he was happy with how he hit the ball, but his demise was due to one thing and one thing only.
"Everything was putting," said Ames. "What did I have? 36, 37 putts. It's a lot." Ames was (+6) on his first six holes, including three three-jacks.
Ames cracked a huge smile when we asked Ryan what he was hoping for his father for Father's Day. "To win," said Ryan.
"Maybe next year," said proud papa as we scurried off to find our next interview.
The afternoon flight has already seen an ace from John Peterson on the 180-yard 13th and an eagle from Ernie Els at the 17th to get himself into a tie with Westwood in the clubhouse at (+2).
Freddie Jacobson is in with a 68 and (+1) total, while the steady European duo of Graeme McDowell and Nicolas Colsaerts is even with five holes to play.
While there are still players out on the course, the (+2) and (+3) finishers seem elated with their position for Sunday. As for what it's like out on the course: sheer madness.
At the eighth hole, Frenchman Raphael Jacquelin hit his approach into the left trees and it came back almost 100 yards.
By the time Jacquelin figured out if he was going to get relief, there were two groups waiting to hit.
What makes 8 so interesting is the seventh green is right beside the 9th teebox.
The players have to walk back the length of the 188-yard 8th, sometimes while the previous group is walking up to the green.
There's also a spectator crossing there which remained closed for the last seven groups because there were always players ready to hit for that hour-long stretch.
With Woods in the final group, everybody is following Woods and Furyk and that means hillsides are entirely packed with people and there is nowhere to go as the sun beats down on us.
To paraphrase Lee Westwood, not a bad way to pass time. So, It's off to see the final holes on this brilliant Saturday night in San Francisco.