In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. --Proverbs 16:9
I am Adam Scott. I wrote those four words in July 2012 when the 32-year old Aussie golfer led the British Open by four shots with but four holes remaining. Golf fans watched knowing it was his to lose. Instead he bogeyed every one of them and handed the Claret jug to South African Ernie Els.
It was a remarkable meltdown and he was at a loss to explain it. In the Australian on-line journal, Jim Tucker reported
What I saw was something much different. In fact I couldn’t believe how remarkably calm and composed he was after losing what was sure to be his first major. Were there tears? Not hardly. Scott replied "Maybe it hasn't sunk in yet. Maybe there will be a bit more disappointment when I get home and kind of wind down. It's all a lot to digest.”David Ferherty jumped all over this remark. A former professional golfer himself, Ferherty said "I am sure it will hit him later this week and unfortunately at times in the future." How could it not?
I looked at the photo of Scott with his hand on his head reflecting his disappointment as he missed the 8-foot putt that would have put him into a tiebreak and I recognized something in him.
I remembered his composure in the post-tourney interview. I felt as though I had been there.
I thought of who he hired to be his caddy. Steve Williams (well known because he worked as Tiger’s for 12 years) was so mad that he walked to his car and slammed the trunk closed. He was unwilling to talk to anyone. Scott hired his alter-ego. I totally get that.
I put the pieces together, and something was revealed to me. I am Adam Scott.
His actions, his reactions—I get it. I am no different. I’ve been that athlete who was up 7-0 in an 8-game pro-set vying to make a spot on the varsity tennis team as a freshman…only to lose the next 9 straight. In life, I have had metaphorical victories within my reach, only to watch them slip away, to lose my grasp. It’s not an easy way to be. I wish I were the clutch player. I would love to rise up when the stakes are highest.
Fortunately, the 2013 Masters revealed something different, a deeper understanding of Scott that spoke to me. I recalled his remarks when he was probed further about the collapse; Scott said, "I'm a positive guy. I want to take all the good stuff that I did this week and use that for next time."
Make no mistake about it, Adam Scott did that. I saw a new level of confidence in him as he entered the sudden-death playoff. While the world may have predicted another meltdown, Scott rose up. He was calculated, calm, confident and positive. He lived up to his senior quote (featured in his high school yearbook): When in doubt, birdie the 18th hole. He did.
Adam Scott stayed the course. His love for the game, working with his strengths and managing his weaknesses played out well on the course of Augusta National. Did the good Lord determine where his steps led at the finish? No, but I think He enjoyed the sudden-death playoff just as much as we did.
I do love that passage of Scripture shared by my student Patrick while on Immersion last summer. He said it as I felt a metaphorical collapse around me. But hearing the Word, I came to remember at times we plan our course, at other times it is determined for us. Having the faith to believe that God determines our steps, takes the pressure off. Yes, sometimes it leads to a second place finish...but other times it also shapes the path to the glory of Sunday at the Masters. Thank you, Patrick! Thank you, Adam Scott.