Boeing Classic is more fun when it’s seen up close and personal
August 29, 2012
By Michele Mihalovich
Yes, you might be able to follow the Boeing Classic golf tournament easier by watching a TV from the comfort of your couch, but you’d be missing out on so much.
Aside from just seeing the legends you’ve heard about for years, you get to stand so close you can smell their aftershave when they walk by.
When you’re 10 feet away from the tee box, you hear the swoosh of air when Duffy Waldorf swings his club, immediately followed by a distinctive plink when the club smacks the ball.
Or you can brag to your friends that you personally helped Willie Wood shave two strokes from his game, like spectator Charles Bremson gets to when he returns to Lake Tahoe.
Wood’s second ball at the Aug. 24 round struck Bremson, who was standing against the rope, in the back.
“I stopped it from going out of bounds and saved him two strokes,” he said proudly.
For some, the Boeing Classic is about more than just the golf.
Ken Fowler, of Snoqualmie, hasn’t missed any of the eight tournaments that have been held at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge. The tournament drew 81,000 spectators this year.
He enjoys the Boeing jet flyover, and claimed his spot on the clubhouse balcony nearly an hour before the event.
“It looks like it’s heading right for you,” he said.
And, when the Boeing jet did not crash into the clubhouse, the tournament officially began.
Fowler, like many others, also turned out Friday to watch the crowd favorite — Fred Couples, who grew up in Seattle — hopefully win the three-day tournament.
Arlen Rons, of Sammamish, also came to see Fred win, as did Rocky Reiter, of Tacoma.
Taylor Walz, of Ballard, however, came to see “Ted Couples, or is it Todd. Oh, I don’t know. I’m horrible with names.”
She said her 81-year-old father really wanted to come to the Boeing Classic, so they decided to have a nice father-daughter day.
Walz, along with the rest of the crowd gathered at the first hole tee, snapped photos and chanted, “Freddy. Freddy. Freddy,” as Couples, who recently won the Senior British Open, walked toward the tee box.
He swung a nice drive, but as he walked down the hill, he said his back seized up.
“It was like a bomb went off in my lower back. I think it’s time to rest. I’m sad I won’t be able to play in this year’s event. For this to happen to me in Seattle, this is a rough one,” Couples said after being carted off and withdrawing from the tournament.
When word spread among the spectators that Couples was out, people expressed shock and heartbreak.
Couples was Rons’ first pick for winning the tournament, but if that didn’t happen, he said he wouldn’t mind seeing Gene Sauers do well.
Sauers’ hard-luck story struck a cord with Rons. About five years ago, Sauers developed a rare skin condition, where his skin burned from the inside out. Instead of working on his game, he fought for his life and endured unthinkable pain.
Last August was the first time he’d picked up a club in years, and after slowly getting his skills back, and turning 50 this week, he became eligible for the Champions Tour at the Boeing Classic.
“I love stories like that, of overcoming adversity,” Rons said. “It really makes you grateful for what you have.”
Sauers did not, however, take home the $300,000 winning share on the final day.
That honor went to Jay Don Blake, after two playoff holes against Mark O’Meara on Aug. 26.
Judging by cheers after the close match, the crowd enjoyed the show, even though Couples couldn’t be a part of it.