Steve Carroll was out among the crowd at Pebble Beach to witness the intense drama that the TV cameras just can't convey
The roars are like aural bombs going off all over Pebble Beach. The ground shakes with the cheers as, all around us, the explosion of turbulence grips this final round of the US Open.
A swish of the sand wedge and Brooks Koepka nearly holes his approach on the 3rd.
The hairs are up on the back of the neck and are still at full stretch when Gary Woodland almost immediately sweeps in a birdie putt a couple of hundred yards behind us at the 2nd.
The whole place is electric. The noise is everywhere and everyone is energised. I don’t know where to look.
This is the confrontation we wanted. Koepka is coming and Woodland meets him like it’s two sluggers in a heavyweight title fight.
It’s blow by blow, shot by shot, putt by putt – the opening hour and a half of the final round is can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it action.
I know I don’t want to be anywhere else.
There are sacrifices in watching a major live. Xander Schauffele streaks to the turn in 31. I don’t see a shot.
Adam Scott matches him but the Australian has passed me by. I can’t be in all the places a camera lens can.
But while TV can show you all the shots, it can’t convey atmosphere.
And Pebble Beach is buzzing. It’s crammed and Koepka is the man conducting the orchestra.
The two-time defending champion looks like he is being driven by both history and destiny in a start that takes everyone’s breath away. The three-peat is well and truly on.
Four-under through the first five, he doesn’t so much bully those opening few holes as lift them upside down and shake their dinner money out.
It’s a more measured fashion to this most dynamic of starts but Woodland is matching him in those early exchanges – keeping his lead at a couple and looking ice cool.
So like the radios fixed to the ears on the final day of a football season, events are ricocheting around the golf course.
Has Brooks just hit it in the hazard at eight? Is that Justin Rose getting a birdie at the sixth?
We try to get a glimpse through the railings of some bleacher stairs, or duck down into a gap between the ever-increasing hordes that are crowding every fairway and green. If there’s a buggy, people are on it. Even the trees aren’t safe.
Sometimes there’s a spot, a few precious feet where the view is unobstructed and you can watch Woodland and company take aim.
But, like the action on the course as that early birdie blitz fades into a war of attrition, every glimpse is hard fought and well-earned.
Rose is hanging on to the rear view mirror but he’s starting to look like a passenger and, once the players get the Pacific fixed in their vision, the drama takes on a different turn.
Easy birdies are now becoming difficult pars. For Rose, though, they are becoming painful bogeys. Father’s Day will not feel like 2013 for him.
Many others set off with high hopes. Dressed in all white, Rory McIlroy looks like a crusader but the outfit signals merely a flag of surrender after an early double.
Louis Oosthuizen grabs the coattails of the leading trio but only serves to frustrate the waiting Koepka as they crawl round the turn.
His antics at the 12th – his tee shot shanks into a TV tower – goes on so long that the scoreboard holder isn’t even off the side of the green before Koepka launches into his tee shot.
He’d just birdied 11, to close within a stroke and build a new surge of emotion, but the bunker, and a bogey, flattens both him and his raucous support.
Perhaps fittingly in a week where everyone bluffed and double bluffed the course’s set up, it was Pebble Beach’s longest hole, the 14th, which effectively decides the championship.
Woodland’s birdie there, a rarity on a back nine that requires a shovel and a foxhole rather than a set of irons, sets the bleachers at the back of the green alight and once more gives him precious breathing space.
We all thought Koepka was the stone cold killer, the golfing Terminator that could not be stopped. Turns out this Kansas resident is made of steel as well.
Outward shows of patriotism are popular on this side of the pond.
There’s a Stars and Stripes in most gardens, a flag fixed to the rear of a hat or the lapel of a shirt.
So when a man with star spangled shoes strides down the final fairway, and finishes in emphatic championship winning fashion with a long birdie at such a special venue, he gets a reaction few of us who witness it will forget in a hurry.
What a fitting end to a fantastic week. What a privilege to have been here.