Father’s Day/U.S Open Update
Since it is Father’s Day, I’m gonna send this out to my Dad. He taught me a lot of things. The most important one was to treat patients with respect and dignity. He is the all time master. I fall short, but I try to be that good.
My dad also started me on golf. I won’t say he taught me, ’cause neither one of us had the foggiest notion of how to play. He thought it would be a good thing for us to do together, so he got some clubs and we took it up. The only time we played was nine holes after church on Sundays. When I’d hit it right, he’d say, “Son, you hit it just like Arnie.” I never hit one like Arnie in my life, but if your Dad says it is true, you believe it, so I kept at it. I learned to play O.K. but Dad also said I didn’t need to give up my day job. (My folks viewed my studies as my day job.) Dads need to be honest, and I’m glad mine was. I was better with books than a wedge for sure.
U.S. Open Sunday is Father’s Day every year. I like the Open. It is so democratic. After all, if you have a two handicap or better you can fill out an application and try to qualify. We’ve had a few of our choose-up “A” player do just that, and some of it made it through a stage but none have gone to the big show yet. We are proud of every one who gets good enough to give it a whirl. Whether or not they get there is immaterial.
The Open is so American. Everyone has a chance. Of course the odds that good amateur is gonna get in, or even make the cut, much less win the thing, are astronomically small. But the U.S.G.A. makes provisions for the cat to have the opportunity, and I hope they never change on the notion. Everyone who plays needs to be able to hold to the dream. On the right day, they could win.
Early on there is often someone to emerge like the Hicks gentleman who led the first day. Most of the time they fade back into the pack as the tournament wears on. Do not be confused. They are still fabulous players. We have a fast group at River Run, and we’d take him as an “A” player every day. The only debate would be how many strokes the guy would have to spot everybody. By definition, if he even got there he is very dang good.
I was all about D.J. Trahan this year. He is from S.C. A couple of our best choose up players have played with him. One year he came over on a Monday and worked with some of our First Tee kids. No one knew about it. That speaks even more to me than his golf game, which is considerable. His father Don is about my age, and Mr. Trahan and D.J.’s short game coach come through here every so often for a money match. I have played with them, and that story warrants another post. D.J. comes by his talent honestly; his dad is a fine player, and a respected swing coach. (His byline is: “The Swing Surgeon.”) Until they added the short game man to the team, Mr. Trahan was his son’s only instructor. You can’t argue with results; all three of them know golf. In fact they live, breathe, eat, and sleep it. I wish D.J. coulda won; it would have been quite a Father’s Day for him and his Dad. Still he had a fine tournament (tied for 4th), and I think his name will be on the trophy before it is all over.
If D.J. couldn’t win, Rocco Mediate was a good one for me to pull for. I mean, the guy is “old,” (though 45 seems young to me) hits a low hook, and has a bad back. How could I pull against a guy like that? Yep, the Open is democratic. Rocco is a fine player, and has won several tournaments on the pro tour, though it has been a few years. He had a few tough years due to injuries, and only got in the Open this year via the qualifiers. If he were to win, he’d be the oldest U.S. Open champion in history.
Man, you couldn’t help but pull for Rocco. He had a big peace sign for a belt buckle and a half dozen U.S. Open pins on his hat. He waved and smiled to the crowd- you could tell he enjoyed the whole scene. Rocco grew up In Pennsylvania, just down the road from Arnold Palmer’s hometown of Latrobe, and they say Arnie was pulling for the hometown boy.
What can you say about Tiger? The guy has a hurt knee and somehow birdies the last hole to tie Rocco for the championship. They will have an eighteen hole playoff tomorrow. I guess I have to leave what kinda accolades would ever suffice to the pro sportswriters, ’cause I can’t think of enough superlatives. I have been around long enough to meet Gene Sarazen (he was past his playing prime at the time, though) and saw Hogan, Snead, Player, Palmer and a bunch more over the years. I thought Jack Nicklaus was so dominant we’d never see a player like that again.
Tiger, though, does things with a golf ball I’ve never seen and can’t understand- and does so even when he is hurt. I think he’s gonna be player of the century. We all said it when Nicklaus came through and got proved wrong, but I don’t think we’ll see another like him in my lifetime. It is fun to watch someone that good, and to see history in the making. My grand-kids will still talk about Tiger. They’ll know, ’cause I’ll sit ’em on my knee someday and tell ’em all about it.
Win or lose, though, I’m gonna tell ’em about Rocco, too. What a performance. He is my new middle aged hero regardless of how things play out tomorrow.