Greetings From LA, Vol. 4

greetingsfromLAAh how I love the smell of cigar smoke in the morning.

How is it that the one smell I attribute to the Nissan Open at Riviera is not the scent of freshly cut grass or the distinctive eucalyptus, but the horrid scent of those little burning coyote turds.

That's not to say Friday's was a bore. Far from it. The old Friday afternoon buzz was back, with a nice sized crowd that ought to come within 15,000 of the actual tally posted in the press room. The epic weather (75, clear, crisp, no wind) and the afternoon pairing of Els-Mickelson-Taylor gave the proceedings made it a wonderful-to-be-alive day.

Several things are remarkable about Phil Mickelson at the moment. Namely, his autograph signing for kids after the round (even as his jet waits at Santa Monica Airport) and his incredible on-course focus. Not only is he in "the zone," but he's playing so quickly and efficiently (1 bogey through the first 36 on firm, fast greens!?).

His bomb drive and 287 yard second to the 17th led to the loudest Riviera ovation since members heard a rumor that the club had been sold.

Other than that, a fairly uneventful day. Oh, me and 15 other scribblers had breakfast with Arnold Palmer and Jim Nantz to introduce the 1960 Masters rebroadcast. And it could be one of the coolest golf telecasts you will ever see, but more on that later.