After covering so many of these events, you would think this grizzled mug would be recognized by the denizens of the RBC Canadian Open and, if not, my credentials were apparently in order when the long arm of the law grabbed me outside the media centre at St. George’s Golf and Country Club.
A tree trunk of a forearm wrapped around my neck and I felt a vice grip on my right arm starting to push up and the photos I have of this incident would have you believe that this officer thought he was “Ponch” Poncharello from the ‘70s show CHiPs. The guy actually looked like Erik Estrada, who starred as Ponch.
With the Mike Weir Charity Classic going on, there were celebrities such as Samuel L. Jackson and PGA Tour stars Luke Donald, Camilo Villegas and Retief Goosen strolling around, so anything was possible this day.
“I’m a surprise guest,” said Estrada, who at age 61 doesn’t look much different in the CHiPs uniform he wore on the show from 1977-83. He was at St. George’s as part of a promotion with Transition lenses, which also sponsors the PGA Tour event near Tampa each March.
“Canada’s a beautiful place. It’s lovely here. I’m very familiar with Vancouver because I’ve done a couple of movies there and I took my kids when they were little to Whistler,” he said.
Estrada didn’t get too much opportunity to tour St. George’s but was suitably impressed by what he did see. “I play quite a bit when I get the opportunity. I have my own tournament in (Los Angeles) for the LAPD Parker Foundation.”
That isn’t Estrada’s only association with the law and neither is the CHiPs uniform he’s renowned for wearing. For one thing, he’s a reserve police officer in Indiana.
“I give that department 96 hours a year of duty and I am a federal investigator in the State of Virginia with Internet Crimes Against Children,” he said.
“My goal is to have put internet safety education in the schools, but I want to do it as the real deal. I don’t want to walk in as Erik Estrada. I want to walk in as a guy who’s arrested quite a few people,” he said.
Judging by the grip he put on me, he is the real deal.