Sunday, June 21, 2015

The US Open, Father's Day and Jason Day

In early June, I was on my first golf trip. I traveled with 25 other women from the Olympic Club in San Francisco for five rounds of golf in five days in Pinehurst, NC. On most days, I played with someone new. I had a caddy and forecaddies for the first time. I had a lot of time to talk to a lot of different people An easy question to ask any golfer is: How did you start playing? A good number in this group said something I hope to hear more often—they learned from their mom! In fact, one golfer learned the game from her own mother who played on the LPGA tour in the 1950s. That was inspiring. But, the majority of golfers learn the game from, their dad.
Jason Day and his son Dash
I picked up my first golf club in high school when I took a 6-pack of group lessons run by the City of Walnut Creek. My dad signed up with me. He didn't need to take lessons; I'm not even sure he was serious about playing the game, but I understand now why he did. Thanks Dad!

The final round of the U.S. Open always falls on Father's Day. I would be interested to know how long this tradition has stood, because it's a great one. On my flight home from the 115th Open at Chambers Bay in University Place, WA I talked to the President of my golf club. He shared with me that his favorite part of Father's Day is that it's the one day of the year his daughters will sit down with him to watch golf. 

For those that do watch, you will see a series of ads run by the USGA that feature current players and their fathers. I can only imagine how many hours these dads spent with their sons on the links. I would hope that golf has strengthened their relationship. After all, the game demands a lot of time. And if there's one thing we still cannot buy, it's time. 
Justin Rose honored his own father with his US Open victory in 2013 at Merion
A number of  professional football, basketball and baseball players have fathers who played the game professionally as well. On the current tour among golfers, only Jimmy Walker comes to mind. There are however, some golfers you will not see with their fathers, as they are no longer with us. When Justin Rose captured the U.S. Open in Merion, PA, he took a moment to honor his father with a prayer, some tears and a point to the sky before he sank his final putt for the victory. His dad had died of Leukemia at but 57 years of age. Bubba Watson's father was the only coach he ever had. I didn't understand why the already emotional Bubba was blubbering as he won the Master's in 2012. His father and namesake Gerry Lester Watson, Sr had died of throat but a year and a half prior. 

Many eyes will be on Jason Day today as he shares the lead with three other golfers. Day's father, Alvin—an Aussie died of stomach cancer when Jason was but 12 years old. Day, learned the game from this man and since his death Jason has certainly face, battled and overcome his fair share of personal struggle and adversity. 
J-Day and his caddie, who has been like a father to him
One need not win a tournament to honor their father, but excellence in golf is always an invitation to something more. Golfers will analyze the length of their average drive, their number of putts, greens on regulation, etc, but many of us also want to know the story behind the journey. Jason Day himself is a father. His son Dash was born in 2012. His caddie Colin Swatton has been like a father to him. I will be cheering for him because I want to see him take that turn. Day has been the runner up in three majors (two US Opens and the Masters). I also think he's good for golf, to me, he has the "x" factor. 

How's that? It's merely just speculation and it's something fun to think about: I think he might be the Andre Igoudala of the PGA. Unfortunately, more people now know who Jason Day is because he collapsed from Vertigo on his final hole during Round 2 of the Open; I would prefer that they know about him because he's an exciting golfer to watch. In the article "Andre and the Giant" I read something pretty remarkable:
​​​Andre Iguodala lay in bed after Game 2 of the NBA Finals and his fiancĂ©e, Christina Gutierrez, placed a hand on his stomach. “Your skin,” she said, “feels hot.” Several hours had passed since Iguodala left Oakland’s Oracle Arena, but he was still burning up, as if he had just sprinted off the court. He wasn’t sick, but he popped a Tylenol and set the thermostat in his house to a frosty 60°. When theWarriors forward returned home five days later from Cleveland, he found that his air-conditioning unit had broken, maddening because his Finals fever had not. He joked that he shaved his head in hopes of cooling down. Iguodala’s condition may sound implausible, but one league trainer claims it is common for stress hormones to rise in demanding situations, causing spikes in body temperature. “It’s like you’re a car,” Iguodala says, “and your engine is overheating.” Such is the strain required to survive 48-minute collisions with the turbo-powered tank known as LeBron James
I was wondering if it was a combo of Vertigo, dehydration and stress hormones that led to his collapse. Did he overheat? That course is big and brutal. Iggy came back and was the Finals MVP. J-Day came back during Round 3 and is in contention. Today will be the next chapter in his story....

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