Any time you put on a large event, things that you couldn't possibly anticipate will come up. But I'm guessing the organizers of the US Open at Erin Hills could not have imagined a weirder first day of competition.
Needless to say, none of us who went to the golf course Thursday expected to end up covering a blimp crash. When you consider the glacial pace at which a blimp moves, it's hard to imagine a crash is even possible. I had actually driven under the PenFed blimp on my way into the media parking lot around 11:00 yesterday. So when my friend Joe texted me in the Media Center 15-minutes later saying everyone had seen the thing fall out of the sky and explode--I thought he was joking.
It was humorous watching the camera guys that were all set up to interview Mequon native Jordan Niebrugge break down their gear and try to figure out how they were going to get back outside the course, find the site of the crash and get footage back to their stations. And sports guys who thought they were going to be able to kick back and watch a little golf were suddenly pressed into emergency news duty.
So once all of the hubbub about the blimp died down, we found out that there is E Coli in the drinking water at Erin Hills. The USGA thought that it would go "green" at the US Open and allow people to bring in empty water bottles--and then fill them at free "hydration stations". Considering how hot it will be this week--and that there is absolutely no shade at Erin Hills, this was almost a humanitarian gesture too.
But testing on the water coming from a well hooked up to one of the stations showed E Coli contamination. Unfortunately for attendees, they had been drinking from that station since Tuesday. Now we have to hope that there isn't an outbreak of stomach ailments among those that went to the practice rounds this week. The USGA is going to hand out free bottled water for the rest of the tournament--but I'd recommend you just drink beer out there--just to be safe.
I'm heading back down to the Open today--hopefully I only have to talk about golf afterwards.