SAMMAMISH, Wash. - Oh my, this place is beautiful.
If you are a fan of golf, Sahalee Country Club is a pretty good place to be Monday. We followed Hale Irwin for a couple of holes and he was effusive in his praise for the golf course and the tournament.
"It's gorgeous" he said, stopping to chat with us between the second green and the third tee. "I just can't imagine it being in any better shape."
They are relaxed and even a little goofy on practice days. Tournament time and the heavy pressure comes later this week. For now, they can hit a few balls, catch up with friends they haven't seen for a while, sign autographs, chat up the volunteers, putt for a while on the ice-slick greens or just hang out and enjoy the sun.
It really is a very different deal at this point and the spectators we talked to enjoy the chance to see the people they've been watching on TV for decades right in front of them, even stopping to talk with them occasionally.
Crowds? What crowds? You can walk the course with even the big names of this event and find miles of elbow room. The place feels empty compared to what is coming this weekend when the throngs hit Sahalee.
Still two more days of practice sessions, laid back and loosey-goosey. It's just a great time to be here.