Last week was a little like riding a golf roller coaster for me. On Friday, one of my favorite golf friends and role models, Steve Anderson, passed away after having a massive stroke on Tuesday morning. I met Steve and his family when they came to manage our local golf course several years ago. Steve made you feel like you've been friends for years even if you had just met.
His love for the game and his passion for the business of golf allowed him to make a positive impact wherever he went. I was so grateful that I was able to stay in touch with Steve after he moved on to another golf course, and in this past year he really helped us as our curling group took over golf operations at our course last season.
Last year, just a few weeks before one of the tournaments I host, I lost one of my sponsors. It threw me, and I wasn't sure what do to. I asked a friend if he thought Steve would be able to maybe donate a couple of rounds for a prize, and the next day I got a certificate for 4 rounds of golf and golf balls...along with this message..."For Cathy, anything." Steve was not only a man of great generosity, but also of great character. He is everything that is good about golf. My deepest prayers for his wife, Nancy, and the rest of his family.
Another snafu for the week was I lost track of days and realized Thursday morning that I had forgotten to post all of my fantasy golf teams for the Players Championship. As disappointed as I was, looking back, I'm pretty sure half of my players would have missed the cut!
I didn't watch any of the Players Championship until late on Sunday. I did know that Matt Kuchar was 1 back starting the final round, and my heart was leaping with excitement as I searched out a TV to catch the last few holes on the back 9. I saw Kuchar on top of the leader board, but I realized that he had some serious competitors trying to catch him. I think my favorite moment might have been when Kuch answered Fowler's birdie on 17 with one of his own on 16. Fowler's missed birdie putt on 18 made things a little less stressful for Matt coming to the final hole with a 2 stroke lead.
It's no secret that Matt Kuchar is one of my favorite golfers, and I'm sure it won't surprise anyone that he got a standing ovation from me after capturing the 2012 Players Championship title. I don't know how you don't smile right back when you see that grin on his face. A fantastic moment and I think a preview of what's to come in 2012. And to quote my 3-year old niece Ce Ce, "I'm very exciting that Matt won". (my nieces love Matt, too!)
What I found out about after the fact were the trials of Kevin Na at the Players. A combination of slower play and a challenge to commit to his shots made Na the focus of hecklers on the course. While I understand the frustration and the need to address these issues, in my opinion, there is no justifiable reason for any golf fan to heckle or taunt a professional golfer during competition. I can't even fathom it. It appears that Na acknowledged his shortcomings and did his best to improve on Sunday, but in the end he just wasn't able to bring it back together. I still can't understand what golf fan would think kicking a guy while he was down would be appropriate. Now, trash talking with opponents in your foursome, that's a whole other story.
It also appears that Na brought back the discussion of slow play and assessing penalties. The favorite thing I read concerning that was someone noting that penalties should be assessed because even the sport of curling has time clocks! I haven't followed Kevin Na's career all that closely, but you can bet he'll be the topic of conversation for a few more weeks anyway.
Back in March, on my first golf outing of the year, I did something funky to my back and have been trying to recover ever since. After some visits to a chiropractor and all kinds of stretching and ice on my "to do" list, I finally started to have some "feel good days". I think I might have even uttered the words, "I'm cured!". Admittedly, I hadn't golfed much, but last Saturday I couldn't resist, and after hearing the news about my friend Steve and feeling a little blue, it just felt right to pull on a mock turtleneck and hit the course.
It was a beautiful Minnesota day in May and a group of us went out for some friendly competition. Things felt good for the first nine, but after making the turn, pain creeped in and my back started to stiffen up. I wasn't about to quit, but unfortunately, I petered out and had some less than stellar shots on the last few holes. I realize now I probably overestimated my healing time, so now I'm back on the ice, tennis ball, and stretching protocol.
The common thread that weaves through all of my thoughts is Time. I'm not sure why it was Steve's time to go. And at the same time, I'm excited that this was Matt's time to shine. Kevin Na had challenges managing his time, and I have to accept that my back is going to heal on its own time, not mine.
And I'm smiling right now because if there was a player that I thought represents Steve Anderson's spirit, it might just be Matt Kuchar. So for me, Matt winning on Sunday is a fitting tribute to one of my golf heroes, Steve Anderson...I guess I'd call that perfect timing.
PS...for any local golf friends reading this...there is a lovely article about Steve Anderson here.
"In the presence of Steve, your smile became wider, your laugh became livelier, and your outlook on life became brighter."
I just miss him.
Filed under: Matt Kuchar, Golf, Cathy Erickson, back pain, fantasty golf, time, Steve Anderson, Players Championship