The pro-am component of a golf tournament usually involves a relaxed round of practice and picture taking for the golfers who will compete later in the week.
But for the amateurs playing in the Constellation Senior Players Championship Pro-Am, it was a day they'll never forget.
Lloyd Lamm, a First National Bank of Pennsylvania employee from Harrisburg, had the good fortune of playing in Tom Watson's group.
"It's really the thrill of a lifetime," Lamm said. "It was an absolute treat to be with Tom Watson, to see him hit the ball from every place on the course, to see how he interacted with fans. It was awesome."
Watson stopped for a few autographs after every hole Wednesday at Fox Chapel Golf Club. Naturally, his shots were much longer and straighter than anyone in his group, but that didn't stop him from lending a helping hand.
"He gave everybody little tips on every hole in terms of placement of the ball and where to adjust for the wind," Lamm added.
"All the little things the pros do that make them extra special from a good golfer. It was just enormously helpful."
Bob Kirk, an IT consultant from the South Hills, played in the event last year with Peter Jacobsen. This year, he drew Greensburg native Rocco Mediate.
"They were both awesome," Kirk said. "They were both telling stories and it was a lot of fun. [Mediate] gave me a little putting tip. It was a good time. Nice and loose and calm."
Both amateurs raved about the same qualities in their respective professionals: how kind and talented they were.
"He hits the ball great," Kirk said of Mediate. "I mean, obviously, but it's so much different, just the sound of someone like him hitting the ball is so much different. Totally different sound than I'm used to."
Events like these make for great publicity for the golfers, but for Lamm and Kirk, playing alongside and getting to know the men they watch on TV was what made their pro-am experience special.
"Tom Watson is one of my heroes in golf," Lamm said. "When you watch somebody for years, you think you know who they are. On television, and I've seen him live, but when you actually get to play nine holes you get to find out what they're really made of, and he's even better than I thought he was."
Weather cuts play short
The pro-am was delayed due to weather and eventually cut down to just nine holes.
Gene Sauers' group had the low score on the front nine with 24, while Kenny Perry and Bernhard Langer tied for second with 26.
The groups of Michael Allen and David Frost tied for the lead on the back nine, with both shooting 26. Corey Pavin's group was third with 27.
Rain is in the forecast for this, meaning golfers will play as many holes as possible and will complete the round early Friday morning, if necessary.
Tournament officials have relocated all volunteer parking for today to the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills. All other lots will remain open in their original locations. Gates are scheduled to open at 6:45 a.m.
Nick Veronica: email@example.com and Twitter @NickVeronica. First Published June 27, 2013 4:00 AM