3.45 AM, the snooze went off...….I was wide awake, a little before that. A very long day lay ahead of us but the excitement of US Open final round was overbearing. Our journey envisaged multiple modes of transportation, one linked to the other like a chain. We required clockwork precision to execute it back to back. I am glad we did it to the perfection and at 1.15 PM, as planned we got into the Congressional Country Club, Bethseda, Md. Believe me; the aura was tremendous and breath-taking. “It looks like some big festival here!” Sunita exclaimed. She was so very right. The golfing fraternity had overwhelmed the grounds. Tiger or no Tiger, I am sure there could not have been a larger gallery. Men, women and children of all ages were sporting best of their bohemian gears…straw-hats; sun shades, Oakleys, full and half cargos, bright Ts and ladies were in some of the best summer casuals. The beer was over flowing and fine catering laid out best of out-door cuisine on their Bill-of-Fare. An occasional whiff in the air would fill your nostrils with aroma of fine tobacco coming from an old fashioned, smoking cigars. I love both, the odour and the style. The Trophy Halls were set up for the guests to collect some very creatively designed stylish souvenirs of the Open. I bought few but not as many as I would have liked to. The dollar equation is very harsh.
McIlroy was to Tee off at 3.20 PM and we knew he would be practicing at this hour. So, we straight went for the practice range where he and Yang were honing their Drivers. He looked like a school boy practicing as his father and the coach stood by him. Chinky got fascinated by the club cover, a soft toy, he had. The weather had suddenly warmed up and beer with its froth and chill looked very tempting. Yuvraj joined the queue to fetch some and I continued watching “The Man” and his power full swing observing the extended follow-through and copy book finish. Yang, on the other hand looked like a more seasoned pro with an improvised swing. We moved to Tee No 1 and saw Jacobson and Gariggus, Westwood and Day, Garcia and Kuchhar , McIlroy and Yang teeing off. It was not possible to be everywhere on the course and neither my health permitted me to run around. Luckily, American Express, one of the sponsors, had given us radio ear plugs free of cost which broadcasted the running commentary. That kept us well informed all along. Sunita and I settled down for the grand stand overlooking Hole No 15, while young Vidushi and Yuvraj went about chasing players.
The Open was being played on the Blue course, and the club has another one, called Gold. The terrain is hilly and engulfs natural water bodies strategically incorporated in to the course. Almost a century old, towering and magnificent Club House on a hillock, overlooks 10th and 18th Greens separated by a water line. The picturesque course is a Golf-dream for anyone; its membership is for almost 100 thousand dollars and waiting period is 8-9 years. The course is in its best shape and Greens are wearing Annual Bluegrass (Poa annua). At 4 mm cut they are lightning fast.
Watching any sport on TV is very edifying but unless there in the middle, you miss out totally the real touch and feel of the milieu. Your own arcs of sights are your own and not of the camera men. You see what you want to see and not what they show you. Also, you lend up seeing what you actually never wanted to see. We could hear more and see less of the prize distribution and closing ceremony. McIlroy won at 16 under par with 8 stroke lead.
The very long day ended at 4.00AM in the morning when we reached home dead tired and hit the bed straight. Mr Dhameja came to look me up in the morning and said “for you it looks like a pilgrimage.” I think that sums up.
( PS: no cameras/mobiles were permitted on the course so could not click any.)