BAY HILL, Fla. – For television viewers and media, the weekend at a PGA Tour event is prime time.
If you’re a fan attending live, that may not be the case.
The 2019 Arnold Palmer Invitational is set to take place beginning Thursday at Bay Hill, and Tuesday’s practice round gave fans a chance to see the world’s best up close.
Paul Kim is a fan who lives a five iron away from the course, and finds that the practice rounds provide spectators more freedom to see their favourites.
“I realized that these practice round days are actually the best for the fans,” said Kim, standing by the first tee. “You don’t have the crowd, and you can just walk around and you can actually go chase (the players), go up close and watch.”
He was one of numerous spectators out to see the players despite some early morning rain.
The 30-year-old sees these days as more beneficial for the fans, though that’s not to say he doesn’t enjoy the event itself as well.
“I was watching them putt for 40 minutes. To me, that’s more valuable than Thursday, Friday,” he said. “I mean, yes, there are different kinds of fun.”
The former New Yorker has been a golf fan his adult life and was pleasantly surprised that the tournament was played here when he moved to the area.
“I moved down here about a year ago, and when I did I actually didn’t know that the Arnold Palmer was played at Bay Hill,” he said. “I realized I lived right across the street, except where I live is called Bay Ridge. I decided I should come down and check it out.”
Kim was looking forward to seeing Tiger Woods, but the eight-time winner of this tournament was absent, pulling out due to a neck strain.
“I really wanted to see Tiger. I’ve never actually seen him play in real life. I’ll have to settle for Rory (McIlroy), who I’m chasing after right now.”
McIlroy, the defending champion, was out signing autographs after hitting his opening tee shot.