The world's best got an early start Friday, so Aaron Ngewn and Lee Von Seldeneck had to hustle to get to Aronimink Golf Club in time to score front-row seats.
When they succeeded, they clutched ice-cold Michelob Ultras and watched the number-one outfit - in soccer - from a plush brown couch as Tiger What's-his-name clubbed around the course's back nine.
"Golf?" Von Seldeneck said as he settled in to watch top-ranked Brazil battle the Netherlands in a World Cup quarterfinal. "We just got here!"
Sure, they had bought tickets to watch the AT&T National golf tournament, but they also had their priorities. And, as with a sizable percentage of the thousands of fans who showed up at Aronimink, actually watching golf while at a golf tournament wasn't always at the top of the list.
"I'm a big soccer fan," said Ngewn, 38, who was born in Kenya and now lives in Norristown.
He and coworker Von Seldeneck, 41, of Conshohocken, were among many exercising options at Aronimink besides standing behind a green rope and watching golf. They found their soccer perch in an AT&T-sponsored hospitality tent, which also drew long lines for a computer-simulated golf competition. Other spectators checked out World Cup matches from flat screens in at least three other tents, as well as a giant multipanel monitor over the course's main entrance.
"In Ireland, in Europe, it's like this everywhere," said Eimar Barr of Pound Ridge, N.Y., a former Ghanian resident rooting for that country's Black Stars against Uruguay alongside his father-in-law, an Aronimink member.
On the grounds of Aronimink, the soccer TVs - and other sidelights not strictly tied to the PGA tour event that sold thousands of tickets, including highfalutin' food-and-drink concessions and air-conditioned tents - were intended to give spectators some options for respite, a tournament spokeswoman said.
"Some days it gets pretty hot to be out there on the course all day," said Rachel Rees, the tournament's public-relations manager.
One creative homeowner didn't have that problem. With a backyard that ended just yards from the course's 13th hole, the resident - who declined to give his name - turned the front-row vantage into a not-strictly-golf yard party for his friends and work associates, their voices dropping to whispers whenever competitors played past.
Back on the course in a tent a few fairways away, members of a nonprofit spent their week hustling snacks to spectators, turning their free time into revenues for Dragonfly Forest of Conshohocken, which benefits children with illnesses and disorders.
The post came with no pay, but there were free food and certain other perks.
"We stood right next to Tiger Woods," Leah Markowitz, 26, of Center City, said during a shift Wednesday.
On a porch overlooking the course's 9th fairway, Mike Hargadon, 45, of Ventnor, N.J., decided to check out how good the course's concessions were beyond hot dogs and hamburgers. After a few bites of a moist $15 steak sandwich from a Morton's Steakhouse tent, he gave up on a doughy roll and ate only the steak.
"It's too bad they went with the cheap panini bread," Hargadon said.
A second sandwich confirmed that the steak was flavorful and tender - and well-balanced by the sweetness of a dollop of grilled onions - but was swaddled by enough excess bread to build another sandwich.
The meat was billed as filet mignon, though Hargadon, a food-services broker, was skeptical. "It could be a cut of filet," he said.
Eventually, even the tournament's strongest nongolf reveries gave way to the reason spectators had bought tickets and rode parking shuttles from far-flung lots. For Ngewn and Von Seldeneck, the moment came when Ngewn checked his smuggled-in cell phone after 20 minutes of soccer, with his Netherlands team down, 1-0, to Brazil.
"Hey, Tiger's close," Ngewn said. "He's on 17. Want to go?"
"Yeah," Von Seldeneck responded.
In a flash, they left their convenient distractions and were back along the links.