Monday, March 12, 2007

Back into the sunshine

This is how golf season begins:
After leaving the ACC basketball tournament and St. Pete Times Forum for the last time -- where the basketball was terrific but the weather stayed outside -- you get in your Florida white rental car, drive an hour northeast of Tampa and arrive at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.

Sunshine. Puffy white clouds. A soft breeze and 82 degrees.

There's Joey Sindelar, the 2004 Wachovia Championship winner, walking along talking to someone on his cellphone. Sindelar, it seems, is always talking to someone and he's usually smiling.

There's new Charlottean Johnson Wagner sitting on a rock wall beside the putting green talking to Mac Barnhardt and Jimmy Johnson, his agents at Crown Sports Management. Wagner has made seven cuts in eight starts and has the look of a guy who's going to hang around a while.

There's Kym Hougham, tournament director in Charlotte, leaning on a rail behind the practice range, watching Tom Lehman and Tripp Isenhour and Todd Hamilton hit shots into the sunshine.

There's Roger Clemens -- yes, that Roger Clemens -- who just finished playing in the Monday pro-am. Okay, I didn't actually see Roger Clemens but I was assured he was there as the pairing sheet said and the small group of autograph seekers waiting outside the clubhouse seemed to attest.

There's the interview schedule that says Arnie will be in the media room Wednesday at 10 a.m. Tiger's here. Phil's here. Ernie's here. But this is still Arnie's place.

It's a good place to be on Monday afternoon. -- Ron Green Jr.