The formal pretournament interviews are under way for the BMW Championship in Lake Forest.
Tuesday it was Luke Donald and Henrik Stenson. Scheduled for Wednesday are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker and a few others.
BMW ChampionshipWhen: Today through Sunday
Where: Conway Farms Golf Club, 425 S. Conway Farms Drive, Lake Forest
Schedule: • Wednesday -- Gates open at 6 a.m. with pro-am event at 7 a.m. on holes 1 and 10, and 1 p.m. for afternoon start. • Thursday and Friday -- Gates open at 9 a.m.; 10:15 first tee • Saturday and Sunday -- Gates open at 9 a.m.; 10:15 first tee
Tickets: $10 for practice rounds; $40 tournament round; $100 weekly badge; $75 Trophy Club day ticket sold out; $195 Trophy Club weekly badge. Available at bmwchampionshipusa.com.
Parking: Free shuttle service available from Lake Forest's two Metra stations from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., plus parking available on Everett Road (exit I-94 at Town Line Road and follow signs).
Purse: $8 million in prize money; $1.44 million for the champion
Field: 70 finalists in the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup
Defending champion: Rory McIlroy
TV: Golf Channel from 2-5 p.m. Thursday and Friday; noon to 2 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday NBC from 2-5 p.m. Saturday and 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday
Beneficiary: A Western Golf Association event that helps provide Charles "Chick" Evans Caddie Scholarships from the Evans Scholars Foundation
"Tiger, Tiger, how do you like the Conway Farms Golf Club layout?" … "Lefty, Lefty, how's your game coming into the tournament?" … "Rory, Rory, should we bomb Syria?"
I have been through dozens of these sessions for more than 40 years, from Tiger Woods back to Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson back to Arnold Palmer.
Not to mention Dave Eichelberger and Morris Hatalsky.
Some of the answers are memorable: Greg Norman said that young golfers starting out should swing as hard as they can, hit the ball as far as they can, and worry about the rest later. Presumably he meant because baseball isn't the only game where chicks dig the long ball.
(The best comment ever came not from a pro but from former president Gerald Ford after a Western Open pro-am. He said that standing on Butler National's first tee was the most nervous he ever was. Remember, this is a man who had his finger on the nuclear button at one time. What does that tell you about golf?)
Something struck me Tuesday at Conway Farms: We ask the pros all sorts of questions about their games, but they never ask me about mine. Don't they care about the common hacker's pain and suffering?
Just once I would like to get a "What do you think?" from one of the world's premier players. Better yet, put me up front in the interview room and let the entire field fire questions at me.
Woods: "Mike, Mike, what do you think about golf?"
Me: "This game (bleeps)."
Mickelson: "Would you elaborate, please?"
Me: "Golf is worse than cigarettes … dirtier, more expensive, more time consuming and more hazardous to your health."
Woods: "Why do you continue to play?"
Me: "Because it's also more addictive than smoking."
Johnson: "Did you ever try to quit?"
Me: "Never. A friend calls me the worst golfer he knows who loves to play."
Mickelson: "How would you characterize your game?"
Me: "I've been a beginning golfer for 45 years."
Donald: "Have you taken lessons?"
Me: "No. There must be some mystery in life. I prefer to not know why I hit a good shot and not know why I hit a bad shot."
McIlroy: "I'm afraid to ask, but what do you shoot on average for 18 holes?"
Me: "Somewhere between 100 and 200."
Donald: "Could you be more specific?"
Me: "OK, somewhere between 101 and 199."
Woods: "What's the worst memory of your, uh, career?"
Me: "A really hot woman asked whether I played today. I said yes. She asked whether I broke a hundred. I said I only played nine holes. She said she knows and asked again whether I broke a hundred."
Woods: "Who's your favorite professional golfer?"
Me: "John Daly because he reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger?"
Mickelson: "You gripped it and ripped it 400 yards?"
Me: "No, I wore clown clothes and then got drunk."
Stricker: "Do you resent us pros?"
Me: "Only because it's unfair that you guys get paid to play great golf on perfectly manicured private courses and I have to pay to play awful golf on perfectly imperfect public courses."
Woods: "Are you a stickler for the rules?"
Me: "There are only two rules of golf."
McIlroy: "What are they?"
Me: "One, this game (bleeps) … two, I'm not going to play again until tomorrow."