124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

For Herron, the waiting is the hardest part

August 13, 2009

CHASKA, Minn. -- For the umpteenth time today, Tim Herron walked gingerly from the clubhouse to the driving range, passing a group of well-wishers along the way. Sadly, he was in no rush to make a tee time.

"Good luck, Tim," a fan called out.

"I'm not in," Herron explained. "I think I have to go hurt somebody."

He was kidding. Sort of. The 39-year-old Herron, the  Wayzata, Minn., native who still lives so close to Hazeltine that he was able to stop home for breakfast at mid-morning, finds himself in the cruelest purgatory during the first round of the PGA Championship.Â

Bumped up to the first alternate position after Paul Casey's withdrawal this morning, Herron is close enough to a berth in the field that he needs to be on site in case another player withdraws.  And yet everywhere he turns he is reminded of what he is missing.

"I'm almost 40 so this will probably be my last event in Minnesota," said Herron, who has dropped to 222nd in the world rankings. "It's disappointing, but it's on me. I haven't played well enough."

There's a Ryder Cup in seven years here, and Herron said something about making it back for that. But he knew enough not to get his hopes up.

So instead he waits. For most of the morning he sat in his car while the first wave of players teed off. Then he went home for breakfast. Then he came back. On the range, his caddie walked back and forth, checking the names of players off the list.  Not that he wanted anyone to come up limp, but still....

The last group goes off 2:25 p.m. If his name wasn't called, he said, "I'll just head out to Lake Minnetonka and hang out with my family."

In the meantime, an acquaintance called out from behind the railing. Did he have a second?

"Sure, he said. "I've got all day."

-- Sam Weinman