Re­porters

Golf Today Northwest - - Golf -

We asked three area re­porters—scott Han­son of the Seat­tle Times, Todd Milles of the News Tri­bune, and the As­so­ci­ated Press’s Tim Booth—a few ques­tions about their years cover­ing the tour­na­ment.

What been your fa­vorite mo­ment from cover­ing the Boe­ing Clas­sic?

Han­son: My fa­vorite mo­ments seem to al­ways oc­cur when I am just walk­ing from hole to hole, with­out any par­tic­u­lar agenda. I was lucky enough to be near the first green when Gil Mor­gan hit an ap­proach shot wide to­ward the gallery. It bounced into the hoodie of a guy wear­ing a sweat­shirt. Mor­gan, when he got to the ball, told the guy to be very still, act­ing as if he was go­ing to play the ball where it lied. An­other fa­vorite mo­ment was when Nick Price came out of the ropes af­ter hit­ting a tee shot to use the re­stroom. When he emerged, rather than get­ting right back in­side the ropes, he walked with the gallery, ask­ing a guy how he was do­ing, and was he en­joy­ing the tour­na­ment. When Price fi­nally went back on the course, the fan’s friend said, do you re­al­ize that was a ma­jor cham­pion you were talk­ing with? It’s mo­ments like that which I re­mem­ber more than putts that win the tour­na­ment.

Milles: Def­i­nitely cover­ing the big play­off (seven play­ers) that De­nis Wat­son won in 2007 - the largest play­off in Cham­pi­ons Tour his­tory.

Booth: My fa­vorite mo­ment from the tour­na­ment with­out ques­tion was the seven-man play­off to de­cide the 2007 tour­na­ment. It was such a unique ex­pe­ri­ence to watch that many play­ers go­ing out to play the 18th hole and de­cide the cham­pion. I feel lucky to have been there that day and doc­u­ment what hap­pened. Any mem­o­rable in­ter­views or player ex­changes? Han­son: I’ll never for­get Hale Ir­win talk­ing about his hole-in-one on No. 9 in the 2011 tour­na­ment. He said he would let the ball an­swer how it hap­pened. “Ball, what hap­pened? Well, you hit a 6-iron and you re­ally had to hit it well be­cause it was at the outer lim­its and I flew over the bunker but just a lit­tle short of the green—about a foot— be­cause that’s where it’s a lit­tle softer. I didn’t know that at the time. I bounced up on the green and I rolled right into the hole. And my in­ter­view high­lights have been speak­ing to Nick Price and Ben Cren­shaw, two great cham­pi­ons, and two men who treat both re­porters and fans so warmly and with great re­spect.

Milles: Af­ter Jay Don Blake won the 2012 tour­na­ment, Craig Smith of the Times asked him about the 85 he shot in a PGA Tour event (2004 Booz Allen Clas­sic) in mem­ory of his mother, who had died ear­lier in the day. Blake gave such a de­tailed and heart­bro­ken ac­count of that day, it stopped us all in our tracks.

Booth: I think the great thing about the Cham­pi­ons Tour is that all the play­ers are very ap­proach­able and ap­pre­cia­tive of the cov­er­age they re­ceive. Some of the in­ten­sity that may have ac­com­pa­nied them dur­ing their PGA Tour ca­reers has dis­si­pated – they still want to win – but they are all very easy to talk to and tell sto­ries about.

How has the Boe­ing Clas­sic evolved over the years? Han­son: The tour­na­ment went to an­other level when Seat­tle na­tive Fred Cou­ples turned 50 and be­gan play­ing in it. It would be great to see him win one of these. I be­lieve while the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons play­ers are more ac­ces­si­ble and more likely to sign au­to­graphs that PGA Tour

play­ers, I think the dif­fer­ences have be­come less pro­nounced.

Milles: I would ac­tu­ally use the word ‘sus­tained’, be­cause many big names con­tinue to come to this event, even when it was stuck be­tween Cham­pi­ons Tour ma­jors.

Booth: It has def­i­nitely so­lid­i­fied its place as part of the sum­mer cul­ture in the Seat­tle area. Con­sider that in 2010 the U.S. Se­nior Open at Sa­halee took place just a few weeks be­fore the Boe­ing Clas­sic and yet the crowds were just as strong. Same in 2015 when the U.S. Open was at Cham­bers and 2016 when the Women’s PGA was at Sa­halee. The Boe­ing Clas­sic has done an ex­cel­lent job of find­ing its niche in the Seat­tle sports mar­ket­place and max­i­miz­ing the op­por­tu­nity.

How big a deal is the Boe­ing Clas­sic for the Seat­tle sports fan, and the Seat­tle sports scene?

Han­son: I think it’s a big deal to a lot of area golf fans. I am not sure it’s cap­tured the at­ten­tion of peo­ple who mainly fo­cus on foot­ball, base­ball, bas­ket­ball and watch golf when the ma­jors come around. I think the key is get­ting peo­ple out just once, be­cause it re­ally is a great ex­pe­ri­ence, walk­ing a course as beau­ti­ful as TPC Sno­qualmie Ridge and see­ing golf that is still at a very high level.

Milles: On a scale from 1-10, I would say a 6. There is no PGA or LPGA Tour stop in WA. This is it. My only com­plaint is that it comes at a time of year (Au­gust) when it com­petes with lots of other things, such as Sea­hawks and Huskies.

Booth: This ties in with my pre­vi­ous an­swer. It will never be as big as the pro­fes­sional sport­ing events here (Sea­hawks, Mariners), but it is the re­gion’s con­nec­tion to pro­fes­sional golf and to me it is a big event. It would be in­ter­est­ing know­ing how much at­ten­tion the Boe­ing Clas­sic would re­ceive if the PGA Tour could ever get it­self into the Seat­tle mar­ket­place.

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