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Spectators set their own course at PGA Championship at Bethpage Black

Marc Soevyn, 28, of Long Beach, enjoys a

Marc Soevyn, 28, of Long Beach, enjoys a cold one as he watches golfers on the 1st hole at Bethpage Black on Saturday. Credit: Craig Schneider

A little walking, a little watching. Break for beer.

That, in a nutshell, seems to be the strategy of many spectators at the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black on Saturday.

Sitting on a folding chair holding a sweaty Budweiser, a light breeze combing over the soft green grass, John Miller was in perfect tune with the leisurely pace of the morning play.

“We don’t really have a strategy,” said Miller, 27, of Franklin Square. “We’re just waiting to get into the beer tent in 20 minutes.”

He was kidding, to a degree, said his buddy Marc Soevyn, sitting next to him right beside the fairway of the 1st hole.

The guys planted themselves in the perfect spot to see the long drives from the tee box, which often landed right in front of them. Then they could turn their heads and watch the follow-up shot, and then the putting on the green.

“We’re resting up, and then we’ll get on our feet for the rest of the day,” said Soevyn, 28, of Long Beach.

Various strategies were employed by the throngs of spectators following the world’s top professionals hit a white ball and chase it, then hit it again.

There were people like Jarell Bozarth, 33, of Manhattan, who posted up by the tee box on the 1st hole. He watched as Henrik Stenson blasted a cannonball shot down the 430-yard, par 4 hole.

“This is an iconic opening hole,” Bozarth said. “It’s so elevated and it has that dog leg off to the right.”

Some spectators followed their favorite golfer around. But that plan was scratched for many when Tiger Woods didn’t make the Saturday cut.

With mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, Saturday was the perfect day to watch golf, so much so that Eddie Goldrick said that if he weren’t here, he’d be playing.

Goldrick, 39, of Deer Park, stationed himself pretty far down along sideline of the course on the 1st hole.

Last time he was here, Rory McIlroy hit a shot that landed right in front of him. Goldrick pulled out his GPS and told McIlroy that the ball was exactly 108 yards from the hole.

“He didn’t appreciate that,” said Goldrick. 

But, after all, Goldrick said, this is New York. 

“We’re a pretty brash bunch,” he said. “I feel like someone in New York is not afraid to talk to anybody.”

For all its intensity, professional golf is a pretty slow-moving game, leaving spectators ample time to talk to friends, light up a cigar and grab a drink. 

Brother and sister Jon Magarace and Gemma Magnusson had an easygoing chat as they sat under the shade of a tree by the 2nd hole. Magarace, 58, came from Annapolis, Maryland, and his sister, 59, from just outside Philadelphia.

Magnusson recalled that growing up, her brother was great at baseball and basketball, but really found his niche with golf. Now he is a PGA pro and a club pro.

"We talked most of the day," said Magnusson, noting that most often, their conversations are over the phone. "Here, you start sharing things you forgot would be nice to share."

By about 2:30 in the afternoon, some people's best laid plans started to fall apart, mainly due to the fatigue of hiking up and down hill after hill in the bright sun.

One guy, trudging along as if lost on a hike, said to his buddy, "Do we even know what we're doing?"

His buddy responded, "We're on a mission."

Roland Cole, 76, who had come down from Maine, found himself a sweet spot, sitting on a low tree branch and enjoying the shade. The elevation allowed him a clear view of the putting green below, which he said was so much better than standing six-deep in a crowd of onlookers.

That, and he got to rest his feet.

"Walked a lot yesterday," Cole said. "Took a toll."

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