CONCORD, N.C. – The eyes of the golfing world are on Charlotte, North Carolina, this week, as the PGA Tour holds its annual tournament at Quail Hollow Country Club.
The spotlight is squarely on Tiger Woods, who is participating in the event – his first since the Masters in early April. And Hendrick Motorsports executive vice president and CFO Scott Lampe got an up-close-and-personal look at just how ready Woods is for the tournament.
Lampe, who is the organization’s third-ranking officer behind owner Rick Hendrick and president Marshall Carlson, had the opportunity to play in Woods’ foursome in Wednesday’s pro-am event.
“It was unbelievable,” Lampe said. “And once I got over the butterflies on the first hole, it was really a lot of fun.”
It was far from Lampe’s first golf tournament – he has been playing for more than 30 years and has even participated in the pro-am at Quail Hollow on multiple occasions. But there was something different about playing with Woods.
“I would say if you took every one of these things I’ve ever played in, took all the crowds I’ve ever had, combined them and doubled it, you would be close to how many people were there (Wednesday),” he said. “It’s a whole other level.”
So, Lampe understandably was dealing with “the worst nerves I’ve ever had” when he stepped up to the first tee box.
Fortunately, he got to watch each of his three playing partners take their shots first. Two of the three golfers – including Woods – put it right down the middle, but another one of the amateurs didn’t hit his best shot.
“It was funny because I felt bad for him, but at the same time I was like, ‘OK, he didn’t hit one that well, I’m OK,’” Lampe laughed. “I ended up hitting it in the first cut of rough, which I think is pretty good.”
With that pressure-cooker out of the way, Lampe was free to loosen up and put together a solid round.
Of course, the crowds following the group kept the intensity a little higher than normal.
“Just kind of by coincidence, some people I know that had just gone out anyway stumbled across me being there, so, that was almost just as bad,” Lampe joked, pointing out that it meant he had some hecklers. “A couple buddies giving me a hard time.”
But he was happy with how he played, closing the round with what he estimated was his best shot of the day.
“On 18, I hit a driver in the first cut and had about 140-something (yards) to the hole and hit an 8-iron to about 15 feet up the hill in front of 10 or 15,000 people,” he recalled. “It was the best shot because of the atmosphere.”
Through it all, Lampe said Woods was “really personable” and even doled out some pointers to the amateurs.
“He’s a competitive guy and is there to get ready for the tournament, no doubt, but he was very friendly and engaging,” he said. “He helped me line up a couple of putts.”
In the end, the group worked together to shoot a composite score of 56 using the “best ball” format, and it was enough to earn them the pro-am victory by one stroke.
Even more remarkable, the Golf Channel’s “Tiger Tracker” Twitter account tweeted that it might have been Woods’ first-ever victory in a pro-am.
And Lampe was a part of it.
“It’s unbelievably special,” he said. “It’s a terrific playing partner, we all played well, beautiful weather, a great golf course. I don’t know that you could’ve written a script any better.
“A buddy of mine sent me a note and I called him back and said, ‘You know, some days are just better than others.’ This is one of them.”