Torrey Pines Tees It Up

Paul Stankowski begins practice round at Torrey Pines North.

Monday is always very casual the week of the Farmers Insurance Open at the Torrey Pines Golf Course as final preparations are made for the PGA event.

Last-minute touches on the tee boxes, firming up the fairways and grooming the greens is done by the grounds crew. Sponsor booths, souvenir and refreshment stands are loaded with merchandise. Media members from as near as Rancho Bernardo and as far as Australia and Japan begin checking in, as do some of the golfers in the 156-man field.

John Daly tees off on the South's picturesque No. 3.

It is the one day that fans can walk the grounds for free. And what a treat when word travels that one of the sport’s big names is on the course. It was John Daly, a crowd favorite for two decades now. Daly burst on the scene with his “Grip It and Rip It” style on the way to winning the 1991 PGA Championship. He won the event here at Torrey back in 2004.

Daly went off on the South Course for a late-morning round with a group participating in Monday’s pro-am event. It wasn’t difficult to spot him in the bright pants and shirt — part of his Loudmouth Golf collection — that are his signature.

Daly received polite applause on the second hole when he drained a long putt and again on the third hole when he dropped it in from just off the green. The group following him seemed to grow with each hole.

Among the spectators were Digger and Dolly Phelps of Westbrook, Minn. — population 750 — who are visiting San Diego for a month. Digger was pressed into service on the fourth hole helping one of the golfers locate an errant shot. “I found his ball,” said Digger, “but he didn’t have much of a shot.”

Dolly was content simply to observe — and bask in the mid-70s sunshine. It sure beats the alternative.

“There was a pile of snow in the yard when we left home,” said Dolly.

Digger left the digging to his neighbors. No shovels are needed out here. Just rakes for the sandtraps.

More practice rounds are in store Tuesday when Tiger Woods is expected to make an early, early appearance. Woods typically tees off around 6 a.m. (although nothing official has been released) for practice, plays a few holes here and there and then clears out before the crowds arrive. He will be playing in Wednesday’s pro-am, teeing off at 11 a.m. on the North Course. Phil Mickelson goes off at 6:50 a.m. on the South Course — starting on the 10th hole — in the pro-am. Nearly half the field will participate in the event.

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About Kirk

About: Kirk Kenney

I first gripped a baseball at the age of six. The game has had its grip on me ever since. I enjoy watching and writing about Little League, high school and college as much or more as the major leagues. I would be consumed by golf if it wasn’t for this voice in my head whispering “pay the mortgage, pay the mortgage, pay the mortgage.” I enjoying reading a good book, but I’m more likely to watch a good movie. I was born and raised in San Diego. If not, I’m sure I would have moved here.

What would you do on your ideal San Diego Day?

I’d join three of my buddies at sunrise in the first group off the tee at Torrey Pines, then head up the coast a few miles to enjoy Mexican food for lunch at Las Olas in Cardiff. We’d drop down to Del Mar after that, grab our Boogie boards (waiting an hour after eating, of course, before going in the water) and catch a few waves, then wash off the sand and head downtown to Petco Park to catch a Padres game.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

There’s no way to pick just one. It doesn’t get much better here than playing a round of golf — especially a twilight round where the last putt falls just as the sun sets — because you can do it year-round. My wife and I also enjoy kayaking on Mission Bay or riding bikes along Crown Point Shores.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

Burger and a beer. Make that a root beer. Nothing beats Mug Old Fashioned poured over two scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Latest music purchases for my iPod player are...

Crazy Heart: The Weary Kind (movie soundtrack)

Lady Antebellum: Need You Now

Eagles: Long Road Out of Eden

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