Picture Perfect Day at Torrey Pines

Watching the world’s best golfers is what draws fans to the Torrey Pines Golf Course for the Farmers Insurance Open. The wide assortment of promotional booths, sponsor tents and other activities at the entrances and along some of the fairways is a pleasant surprise that makes the experience even more memorable.

The Kodak booth and the Military Appreciation Pavilion, both located adjacent to the South’s 14th green, are two of the more popular places.

Thousands of fans have taken advantage of the opportunity to get their picture taken at the Kodak booth. Amber, Piper or one of the others in the booth position their subjects in such a way that the hole and/or the ocean serve as a backdrop. In some instances a fan’s favorite player can even be seen in the background putting out on the green. Within a few minutes of having their photo snapped, the fans are handed a free souvenir to take with them. “That’s a cute picture of all of us,” one woman said to her friends as they walked out.

Glenn and Donna Harris get a souvenir photo to remember their visit to the Farmers Insurance Open.

Marine Sgt. Joseph Barton replaces the flagstick on the South's 14th hole after one of the groups finished playing it.

Glenn and Donna Harris of McLoud, Okla., were were wearing Oklahoma sweatshirts as they followed the group that included Anthony Kim, a Sooners alumni.

“It’s been a blast. It really has . . . ” said Glenn, who paused in midsentence when he heard a cheer go up, “Oh, it looks like he (Kim) just birdied again. Good.”

The Harris’ ducked into the Kodak booth for a picture before heading over to the Military Pavilion.

“There’s so much to do here,” said Glenn. “You can’t ask for anything better.”

Glenn, a chief petty officer in the Navy, was stationed in San Diego recently. As an active military member, he was entitled to enjoy the Military Pavilion sponsored by the Padres. There was a line to get in much of the afternoon, with service members and their families enjoying complimenary food and beverages.

A few uniformed Marines had the added honor of getting to take turns standing behind the green on the 14th hole and replace the flagstick — which had a small American flag on it — after each group completed the hole.

“I play golf myself, so I was all over it,” said staff sergeant Joseph Barton of Gainesville, N.Y., who has been stationed in San Diego the past five years. “I was in for John Daly’s group and Phil Mickelson’s group with Rickie Fowler, and Mr. Kim just came through.

“It was an outstanding experience. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Barton was eager to get back to the base.

“I’m just going to go back and gloat about it now,” he said.

Barton was accompanied by staff sergeant Sheldon R. Edwards, who was still talking about getting an autographed golf ball from Daly earlier in the week.

“That’s the one I really wanted,” said Edwards, who is from West Virginia. It wasn’t the one he really NEEDS, though.

“My sergeant major said to get Tiger Woods’ autograph on a golf ball,” said Edwards, “or he said he’s going to have my orders changed and have me sent to Twentynine Palms.”

The reference was to the world’s largest Marine Base. By distance it is only 150 miles or so from San Diego. By climate? That’s something else altogether. A temperature of 119 degrees was recorded at Twentynine Palms one summer day a few years ago.

Edwards hopes the sergeant major was joking.

Phil Mickelson and Bill Haas share the lead coming into Sunday’s final round of the Farmers. Woods, who slipped from the leaderboard Saturday with a 2-over-par 74, is eight shots back and likely in no mood for signing autographs.


Sea of Spectators See What It’s All About

The gallery gravitated toward the group of Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate and Anthony Kim on Friday as the players made their way from the 15th green to the 16th tee at Torrey Pines South.

Fans packed the stands behind the 15th green on the South Course at Torrey Pines and lined the ropes that fence off the green and fairway as the group that included Tiger Woods, Rocco Mediate and Anthony Kim approached during Friday’s second round of the Farmers Insurance Open.

One young man, probably one of the more resourceful fans and certainly one of the most agile, scaled a tree to get a better view of things.

“Perfect,” said the teenager. “I can see the tee box from here and everything.”

A moment later a marshall looked up and said, “You can’t be in the tree there. I’m sorry.”

Tournament officials try to be as accommodating as possible for spectators. Within limits. And mindful of liability. The youngster returned to earth and followed his father to another spot behind the green to get a glimpse of the proceedings. They — along with perhaps 20,000 others on the grounds — enjoyed another day of beautiful weather, good times and great golf.

There was a Tiger sighting, as expected. Unanticipated was when Phil Mickelson’s group spotted some snakes. Animal Planet would be interested to know that there was even mention of monkeys. Just another day at the Farmers, which could be a zoo come the weekend the way things are going.

Kim excited the crowd early with birdies on each of his first four holes. Woods matched the feat with birdies on the third through sixth holes. They, along with everyone else, are looking up to leader Bill Haas, who birdied three of his first five holes and shot a 6-under 66. It was good enough to go 11-under for the tournament, two strokes better than Kim (who carded a 67) and three shots better than seven other players (Mickelson, John Daly and defending champion Ben Crane among them). Woods shot his second straight 69, putting him five shots off the lead.

It was on the tee box at No. 9 on the North Course where someone in Mickelson’s group spotted a couple rattlesnakes tangling with each other down in some canyon brush below. Next thing you know, players and caddies are on a nature excursion, momentarily captivated like little boys. Soon enough it was back to the task at hand.

And the monkeys? Kim can explain that.

“I’ve always loved animals,” said Kim. “I have two dogs at home, and I’ve always wanted monkeys.”

So he got a pair and named them Craig and Deebo, after two of the characters in ‘Friday,’ one of his favorite movies. Kim said he originally got the idea for the pets while watching another movie, ‘Dunston Checks In.’

“I saw that when I was little,” he said. “And I said it would be pretty cool to have a couple of monkeys. I was playing golf like one, so I figured what better time than to buy them now.”

As thousands will attest, Kim is playing now like one of the best golfers on the PGA Tour.

The field has been trimmed nearly in half, to the 79 players who made the cut at 1-under-par. The first groups for Saturday morning’s third round go off the South Course at 7:40 a.m. Kim is in the final group with Haas and Fredrik Jacobson, teeing off at 9:50 a.m. Mickelson tees off 10 minutes before with Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler. Woods’ tee time is 9:10, in a group that includes Kevin Sutherland and Jhonattan Vegas.