DUBLIN, Ohio -- For this morning, the Muirfield Village Golf Club belonged to Peyton Manning. His playing partner, five-time Memorial Tournament winner Tiger Woods, slid to being the second-biggest name in the group during Wednesday's pro-am.
Fans wore Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts jerseys with Manning's No. 18 and some even donned his No. 16 University of Tennessee jersey. Others held out jerseys, pleading with the future first-ballot Hall of Famer to autograph them.
On the course, the always-competitive Manning winced or gestured like he had thrown an incomplete pass after a missed putt or fairway.
"I played OK," Manning said on the eve of the Memorial Tournament. "There were a lot of people out here. I only hit one guy, I think. He said if I got him a couple of Super Bowl tickets he'd call it even. Hit some good shots.
"...Getting a chance to go behind the ropes ... in football you don't get a chance to really have a 12th guy in the huddle. It's really neat for me to go behind the scenes and go into their world for a little bit and see how they think about certain things and how they prepare. It was really special."
How Manning played wasn't a priority. The day was about fans getting up close and personal with Manning and Woods, two players who dominated their respective sports at points in their careers. Manning won a Super Bowl with the Colts and with the Broncos; Woods is a 79-time PGA winner.
"This was a bucket-list opportunity for me," said Nationwide rep Francis Johnson, who was part of the foursome with Woods and Manning. "Both of them were very down to earth, nice and cordial. The most amazing thing to me was the generations that they both capture, from the little kids up to the older people."
Manning gave out plenty of autographs on his trip around Muirfield Village. He signed everything from jerseys to helmets to footballs to No. 18 Titleist golf balls that he tossed to young kids after each hole -- all 18 -- no matter how long it took for him to reach the next hole. Adults pleaded with Manning for an autograph by telling him how far they drove -- one fan claimed he drove 15 hours from Florida -- to get something signed.
Good try. but that approach didn't work too well with Manning.
Manning spent several seconds getting the attention of a boy sitting on the ground before tossing him a golf ball after the group finished the 17th hole. The quarterback had more leeway about giving autographs to adults who performed some creative versions of the Nationwide Insurance jingle Manning sings in commercials.
To put into perspective how big of an attraction Manning was, the quarterback had two police officers escort him between each hole. Woods only had one officer assigned to him.
"I've got a ball-holder in my room and I'm going to put it in there," Beck Patrick, 6, said after receiving a ball from Manning. "I'm not hitting the ball and messing up Mr. Manning's autograph."
Peyton Manning has stopped to sign autographs on every single hole through the first 12 holes of the Pro Am that he's been paired with Tiger Woods.
Manning's caddie, David Moore, said on the 10th hole that they were going to burn around 2,500 calories walking the course. Manning joked that they should request a cart for the remaining holes.
"That's Peyton's humor for you," Moore said. "He's one of the most sincere, authentic guys you'll ever meet. He's chatty a little bit on the course. He loves talking to Tiger about the preparation, the lifting, what they do conditioning-wise to stay in shape."
Chants of "Omaha, Omaha," were yelled often by the crowd when Manning hit a good drive or bailed himself out of the rough. "Omaha" was a signature audible call of Manning's at the line scrimmage when the play clock was winding down.
And before there was "Omaha," there was 'Tiger, Tiger' -- as in Tiger Woods.
"Snap it on one or snap it on two," Manning said of the audible coined during his 13-year career with the Colts. "For so many years, Tiger was on one, Phil [Mickelson] was on two. Tiger always liked that. I think he liked the fact that Phil was on two. People couldn't figure out what we were saying. We'd say it a lot, 'Tiger, Tiger Phil, Phil.' Snap count at the line when we'd go no-huddle. People couldn't figure it out."