There is always something uplifting about Opening Day, even when it happens half the world away and doesn't involve the one person most people want to see. Here's welcoming the pro golf season, which opened yesterday in Hawaii.
Having covered that tournament when it was known as the Mercedes Championship, I can say it is a good way to wade in for the pros. It's a reward for having won last year (only champions are invited), the scenery is great, the greens are really fast (I did get to play the course), the galleries are friendly if not huge. They have an awesome party for pros, pro-am participants and guests.
When I was there, Joe Torre was standing inside the ropes at the first tee, greeting every pro. He pointed in the general direction of his nearby house. I remember him telling me the first thing he thought when he looked in Tiger Woods' eyes: "That's Jeter!" He meant it as the highest compliment about Tiger's competitiveness.
Of course, Woods wouldn't be at the SBS this year even if he weren't on his leave of absence. This hasn't been part of his schedule lately, just as it is not on Phil Mickelson's agenda. Still, it is fun to break in the New Year by following a tournament, especially one that includes all of last year's four major winners.
Kudos to Lucas Glover, the U.S. Open champ at the Black, for being the first to hold a first-round lead. As I wrote on that Monday last June, New York would love Glover if it knkew him better. He has a genuine love for New York, having honeymooned in Manhattan and visiting, along with his wife, whenever he can. Too bad all of us didn't know all of that before Bethpage and too bad the Open won't be back at the Black any time soon.
In any event, golf will survive Woods' absence the way it survived for many years before he arrived. And imagine the buzz when he does come back!