INSPIRING THE GALLERIES
The second major of the golf season is in the books, Martin Kaymer with a runaway win at the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Number 2. Now the preparations can begin for the Open Championship, teeing off a month from tomorrow at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.
The preparations for the Open Championship begin this week at the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, site of the 63rd Travelers Championship, teeing off on Thursday after three days of activities at the TPC, beginning with the opening ceremony this morning at the first tee. Kaymer won’t be here this week, but U.S. Open runner up Erik Compton will be. He brings with him one of the most inspirational stories in sports.
A two time heart transplant recipient who’s perspective on golf begins with gratitude for life itself, Compton was playing in just his second major at Pinehurst, having qualified for the U.S. Open in 2010, failing to make the cut. His second place finish to Kaymer earned him an exemption for next year’s Masters and a return to the Open. The next chapter of Erik Compton’s story, as he tries to establish himself among golf’s elite, will unfold this week at the Travelers Championship.
Just as inspriational is the story of the defending Travelers Championship champion, Kenneth Wootson Duke, who claimed his first PGA Tour victory in Cromwell last June at the age of 44. It was a long climb for Duke who, in the seventh grade, was diagnosed with scoliosus after he was found to have a 26%curvature of the spine. When the curvature reached 51% he underwent surgery to have a 16 inch metal rod inserted in his back to keep the curvature within the “normal” range. The metal rod is still there and Duke has to frequently battle pain to work his way through a round of golf and earn his paychecks. To the other players on the PGA Tour he is one of the most inspriational figures in their ranks.
Sergio Garcia won his first PGA tournament, the Colonial, at age 21 and the world was his oyster. Over the next decade he claimed over 20 international titles, playing on both the PGA and European Tours. But his success didn’t come without it’s demons. Through it all Sergio has battled himself, and a temper that once led him to spit in the bottom of a cup after missing a birdie putt, an incident that did little to endear him to the golfers who followed him to the hole. A more mature Sergio Garcia has learned to control his temper as he tries to restablish himself as a fan favorite. In the meantime he has established a foundation that has donated more than a million euros to various charities for children.
Bubba Watson, a two time Masters champion who is now among the favorites every time he tees up for a tournament, claimed the first of his six PGA Tour titles at the 2010 Travelers Championship. His post game press conference became one of the most heart touching and inspirational moments on the Tour that year as Bubba broke into tears of gratitude that he was able to claim his first Tour win while his father, who was in ailing health and died a short time later, was alive to see it happen.
These are just a few of the stories from the PGA Tour that unfold week to week and are well worth watching. The next chapter of all of these stories, and many more, will be written in Cromwell this week. You might want to go out to watch them unfold. It can be downright inspirational.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.