Golf fans not allowed on the course for this week’s PGA Championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic have still found a way to root for Tiger Woods and other top players, cheering through fences and from rooftops to provide a brief jolt of energy at the hushed tournament.
TPC Harding Park sits on the shore above San Francisco’s Lake Merced so there are few places for spectators to catch a glimpse of the action from outside the gates.
One exception is the tee box on the par-four 12th hole, which is adjacent to a sidewalk where a few dozen diehard fans peered through holes cut in the canvas covering a chain-link fence.
“Having the opportunity to see Tiger Woods, who is in a league with only Serena Williams and Michael Jordan for American athletes who are the greatest in the history of their sport – I couldn’t pass that up,” said San Francisco resident Carl Carpenter, 33.
Despite struggling in his third round on Saturday, 15-times major champion Woods waved to the fans when they let out a roar following his tee shot on 12, and other players also appreciated the enthusiasm.
“You can tell that they are really receptive to our being here. Everyone seems to be smiling as they come past,” Carpenter said.
Englishman Matt Wallace even bounced a golf ball through the fence to a young fan.
More daring fans used a ladder to climb onto a nearby rooftop that gave them a view of the green on 12 and the tee box on 13 until police came and confiscated the ladder, fans said.
“I started playing golf when I was five, watching Tiger every Saturday and Sunday morning,” said Adam Yount, 26, who had tickets to the tournament before they were refunded.
“I can’t wait for fans to be allowed back. It’s not the same watching it on TV.
“Not hearing those roars for Tiger – I feel bad for him. He doesn’t have that momentum backing him.”
Yvonne Owens also had tickets to the tournament at the municipal course she has played at in the past, but said it was her dog Georgia’s idea to come check out the action on Saturday.
“She actually brought me this way,” she said.
“I live about a half mile away and I thought there would be too many people but then I decided to see what we could see,” she said.
“You see more on TV but it’s not the same when you can’t hear the screaming and the yelling.
“And I like to see the sweating up close.”
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