February 1 2011
SCOTTSDALE -- He was wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, dark sunglasses and a gray and black cap. The full beard he'd so carefully cultivated was several inches long.
In actuality, Brian Wilson looked like the caricature of someone about to enter a witness protection program – not the spirited, or shall we say, free-spirited, San Francisco Giants closer. But Wilson was going incognito as he caddied for his buddy Pat Perez on Tuesday during a practice round at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
“He's got a good sense of humor," Perez said while waiting to hit his tee shot on the 12th tee at TPC Scottsdale. "It's been fun. We played golf about a month ago at my club. You never know what he's going to say."
This is the eighth time Wilson has attended the Waste Management Phoenix Open. "For the first seven, I was the heckler, the one who was yelling at everyone," the pitcher said. "Now I get to walk the course which is pretty fun."
Although they've played casual rounds together, Wilson was impressed with Perez' preparation for his second straight hometown event. Perez now lives in Scottsdale but he grew up playing and working at Torrey Pines in San Diego.
"Standard since I've seen him play," Wilson said, assessing Perez's game Tuesday. "Couple of birdies here and there. Pars. Straight off the tee, Every green in regulation. It's almost like, is this really happening? I don't get to see golf in this kind of perspective."
Being inside the ropes with Perez was a treat for Wilson, who would say only he was long off the tee when asked about his own golf game. "Whether it stays in bounds, that depends on the wind," he said -- maybe cracking a smile, but it was hard to tell with that beard.
"It's a game where you can't take one shot off because it could be the difference between making the money and walking home playing a free tournament."
After he relinquished Perez’s clubs Tuesday, Wilson was headed back to San Francisco for "Fan Fest," where the Giants faithful get to celebrate the team’s World Series win. He would like to get back on Sunday, but admitted the Super Bowl could change his plans.
“I hear it’s a big thing here in America,” he said wryly. “So I’m not sure what I’ll be doing Sunday.”
Tuesday, though, gave him a different perspective on his friend and the game.
"It's just fun walking around with a pro,” Wilson said. “And then you start thinking about what kind of golf game you have and then you get embarrassed you even play golf because he's just far superior to that.” -– Helen Ross