Off to Florida for a little Miami Beach time ... and some Key West key lime pie!
Except for one event, which I’ll get to shortly, my most vivid memories of being in Miami involve sports.
I’ve been there to cover Raptors’ games and baseball world series games, most notably when the Florida Marlins won the Series in 1997 and I was covering it for the Star. I was there at the fabulous Doral golf course in 2005 when Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson duked it out on the final holes on the final day. Actually, that’s probably my favourite memory from covering golf for the Star for a few years.
I was down keeping an eye on the tourney in general and on Woods when it became clear that the Sunday round was going to end up like a match play event with he and Mickelson, mano a mano. They were back and forth, or at least tied, a great deal of the day. I remember Woods making a big putt on the 17th hole to really put the pressure on and I think he took a one-shot lead to the famous 18th hole on the Blue Monster course, a long par four with treacherous water down the left side.
And here’s the fun part. When you cover golf for a paper as big as the Star, they give you a pass to walk inside the ropes, near the players and away from the hordes of fans. You’re supposed to stay within an arm’s length of the ropes as they don’t want reporters in the way or sidling up to Mickelson asking for tips on his famous flop shot. I remember hearing somebody say something in the crowd that I liked after Tiger sank his putt on the 17th, or maybe I just had a rare thought in my head. Anyway, I paused for a half-minute or so to write something down in my notepad. As I scribbled, I noticed the other reporters and photographers with “inside the ropes” access walking past me. No problem, I thought.
I put my pen away and my notepad and got into the back
of the media line as it snaked its way past the 18th tee box. The photographers
with the big lenses usually walk down the fairway a bit, then turn around with
their big lenses to get shots of the players on the tee without making noise.
Usually they walk a fair piece down before they stop. But on this day the
photographers at the front of the line stopped short. So that meant the people
in line behind THEM stopped a little short. Which meant that little old me, in
the back of the line because of my note-taking, was suddenly stopped from moving
forward in the media line. That wouldn’t normally be an issue but this time I was stopped
just two feet from where Tiger was leaning down to put his tee in the
ground. Maybe less. I could almost hear him breathing as he put his ball on the tee.
His caddy, Stevie Williams, looked over at me and snarled, “Get the f--- out of here!!”
Williams has a reputation as a bit of a jerk but he was absolutely right. I was in precisely the wrong place at the wrong time and it was my own fault.
I nodded. I looked around. There was nowhere to go. The line in front of me was stopped. There were PGA Tour officials behind me. So I did the only thing I could do to get away: I got on my hands and knees and crawled under the ropes, through the crowd of fans gathered around the 18th tee.
“Excuse me, pardon me, excuse me.” I felt like Bugs Bunny in the theatre in that famous cartoon. I also felt like an idiot.
I was soon able to get to my feet and I walked down the edge of the trees on the right side of the hole, then clambered back inside the ropes to watch Mickelson just miss a chip that might have tied Tiger. Instead, Woods made a short putt for the win and, as I recall, regained his number one world ranking.
My other favourite memory of Miami is being on a family trip maybe eight or nine years ago. We went to South Beach and my wife and my youngest son, then about 12 or 13, waded out into the Atlantic to toss a football around, as I recall. They were having a great time when a couple of teenage girls (or maybe a bit older) decided to have a little fun. They stood on a sandbar not far from my wife and son and yelled "Let's get naked," and then whipped off their bikini tops.
To this day, I think my son has a real thing for Miami Beach.
I’ll be back in Miami this weekend, so look for a live blog posting sometime on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday I’ll report from the Florida Keys and Key West. And then I’ll be in the U.S Virgin Islands for a week, checking out St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix before heading back to Miami for a day on the way home.
Cheers and thanks for reading!
You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, be sure to follow me on Twitter @jimbyerstravel