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.
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.