Bob Smiley had his eye on Tiger Woods this season.
Smiley, a 31-year-old television writer from Reseda, was out of a job because of the writer's strike, and with a new baby he had to find a job.
He made it his job to follow Tiger and watch every shot he hit this season. Not from the couch, but from Tiger Woods' gallery.
Smiley traveled to every tournament Woods played and walked every step of every course - from the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai to Torrey Pines in San Diego.
Smiley pitched a book idea to Harper Collins on his walks with Woods, and the publishing company bought it.
But Woods' season ended prematurely at just 604 holes. It was the second hiatus of 2008 because Woods was also out for two months following knee surgery after the Masters in April. Thus, Smiley was out of work for a couple of months, too.
Woods returned, and so did Smiley, for the U.S. Open, and after a legendary victory in which Woods hobbled and grimaced his way to his 14th major title, Woods' season was done.
Smiley's walk with Tiger ended in San Diego. Smiley and his family were supposed to leave for Royal Birkdale in the United Kingdom this week in preparation for next week's British Open. Instead, Smiley is stationed on his black leather couch writing the book,
"Follow the Roar." He's on such a strict schedule that his wife and two young children went to Orange County to stay with his wife's parents while Smiley spends every waking hour writing about Tiger Woods and the surrounding hoopla on his laptop.
"At first I was worried, are they still going to want to do this?" Smiley asked.
"But I think this makes Tiger's season all the more compelling. The plan for me is to grind it out and have it out in November in time for the holidays."
Smiley starts typing at 8 a.m. and usually finishes about midnight. He can't do all-nighters like he did as a student at Princeton. Smiley took a break Tuesday to go to a nearby Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for a vanilla ice blended beverage. After his one caffeine fix for the day, he drinks water.
His around-the-clock gameplan has netted about 100 pages, and he has one month before the book deadline. Then he can return to posting on his blog, www.forerightbob.com and a normal life with his wife, Hillary, and children Danny, 2, and Katie, 8 months.
"They've kindly realized the only way I can get this done is to go to my in-laws' and stay there," said Smiley, whose living room full of toys reminds him of the kids.
"I saw them for the Fourth of July and came back and hunkered down. It will probably be another couple weeks."
Writing should be the easy part. Watching Tiger - at least for every single shot - was a near-impossible task, but Smiley tried. He even carried the periscope, a device invented by Phil Mickelson's dad, which is a skinny binocular-type gadget that's intended to give a magnified, up-close view when you're behind a gallery.
"Without this, I'd have a problem," Smiley said while holding the instrument at the U.S. Open.
It works wonders, but not for every shot from every spot on a golf course. When Smiley encountered crowds, he tried to work his way to the outside to get a shot at Woods.
If you're not Woods' caddie, Stevie Williams, or a member of the media who's able to go inside the ropes, glimpses of Woods are few and far between. Smiley learned this at the Buick Invitational - Woods' first tournament - in January. He, and other fans were ushered to the fifth hole rather than the fairway that led to the green because of the media contingent that followed Woods, and he missed Woods putting on the fifth green.
One tournament into his project of seeing every shot, and he'd already missed something. It was a pipe dream, anyway.
"Bobby Jones once said the worst way to watch golf is to watch one person, but I don't think he knew Tiger Woods," Smiley said.
Smiley will chronicle his jostling with the masses and everything from Woods' gutsy U.S. Open victory to his agonizing second-place finish at the Masters. His book's theme really hasn't changed much since he started.
"I set out at the beginning of the year believing this would be Tiger's greatest year ever," Smiley said.
"You can still make the argument it was. He won five of seven events. The last one was a major, and he wanted to win so badly he sacrificed the rest of the year to do it. It was pretty impressive. If he won the U.S. Open and finished eighth two weeks later at the Buick Invitational, maybe it wouldn't have been as compelling."
Smiley was a writer for the CBS comedy,
"Yes, Dear," so there's sure to be a little humor in his book. But there's nothing funny about Smiley's immediate future. He's taking his craft very seriously, much like the man he's writing about.
"This sounds kind of crazy, but I sort of feel like the actual process of finding myself writing the book in six or seven weeks, I'm using a lot of things I picked up from Tiger along the way," Smiley said.
"I learned about focus and discipline and hard work. It's the only way I'll be able to pull it off."