Down the Fairway: Working at Open well worth it

University at Albany sports information director Brian DePasquale likes to spend part of his summer
PHOTOGRAPHER:

University at Albany sports information director Brian DePasquale likes to spend part of his summer vacation working.

But this kind of working makes other media types envious.

Almost every year, DePasquale uses part of his vacation to work as a media specialist for the United States Golf Association. His good friend, Craig Smith, is the media director for the USGA, and he knows DePasquale has plenty of experience dealing with both the media and major golf and college sports stars.

DePasquale’s primary assignment is to help coordinate media coverage inside the ropes.

This year, with Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott all playing together in the opening round of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, he had his hands full.

“This had to be the largest group of people I ever had to coordinate inside the ropes at a U.S. Open,” DePasquale said. “The only one that compares was when Tiger won in 2000 at Pebble Beach. That year, everyone already knew he was

going to win, because he was up by so many, so there were hundreds of people walking inside the ropes during the final round.

“This year, there were a couple of hundred people walking inside the ropes all week. The crowds were 30 to 50 deep in some parts of the fairway. Some people, during the 18-hole playoff, would skip one hole to get a better view of the one or two holes ahead, but it was crazy. During the 18-hole playoff, they had 24,000 people following just two people.”

For the most part, spectators behaved during the week, but DePasquale said there was one

incident involving a father and son who were heckling Adam Scott’s caddie.

“They kind of challenged Scott’s caddie, and the San Diego police eventually arrested both of them. They were taken to jail for public intoxication, but the problem was that the one guy had a 7-year-old grandson who had to be taken care of first. After that, things went smoothly.”

DePasquale was with Woods all five days, and it didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that something was terribly wrong with Woods’ knee.

“I think all of us in the media knew it was worse than it was first portrayed,” DePasquale said. “We didn’t ask him anything about it, and we didn’t know about the fractures, but several times, he had to stand there for a quite a while to collect himself after his shot. On about a half-dozen swings, he was in severe pain. There was no doubt about it.”

DePasquale said that as part of the media group inside the ropes, he had numerous opportunities to look for Woods’ errant shots.

“He kept hitting the ball all over the place. It seemed like he would have trouble on the same holes, especially the first hole and the 15th hole. We never did find the ball on the 17th hole that one day, but enough fans told the officials what happened. Some fan actually picked it up.”

Writers weren’t the only ones allowed inside the ropes.

“During the playoff, I looked up and saw Reggie Jackson inside the ropes. All he had was a regular badge on. I didn’t recognize him at first. He just had a U.S. Open playoff ticket, but I told him that I knew who he was and that if he wanted to stay inside the ropes, he would need a different type of credential, so I got him one.

“Saturday and Sunday, Pat Haden was also inside the ropes, but since he does so much college football broadcasting, he probably got a

media badge through the network.”

DePasquale said Rocco Mediate, who lost on the first extra hole to Woods in Monday’s playoff, was great to work with.

“He’s a very funny guy. We have what we call a flash interview place for the broadcast media to get quick quotes, and when Rocco got done with his interview on Sunday, he tried to sneak up on Tiger and ask him a few questions like he was a media guy. He started out asking a question with ‘Mr. Woods,’ but Tiger noticed it was Rocco, and asked him what the heck he was doing. They both got a big laugh out of it.”

DePasquale said this U.S. Open has to go down as one of the greatest ever.

“You have to rate it as one of the most dramatic Opens ever, even without knowing what was going on with Tiger’s health,” he said. “When you figure Tiger’s injuries into it, it’s one of the best ever.”

RANGE FINDERS

New York State Golf Association executive director Bill Moore said the NYSGA is now allowing range finders in all of its tournaments.

He said there was hesitation by some of the traditionalists on the state golf board, but that everyone finally admitted that allowing range finders would speed up play.

I recently purchased a Bushnell Medalist range finder, and it’s working fine. The only problem is making sure I’m hitting the target with the laser. When there are other tall trees or buildings around, it’s more difficult getting the laser to hit the top of the flag.

Categories: Sports

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