2001: Our Opinion - Lean years’ payoff is sweet victory
For John Daly, Joel Edwards and Kate Golden, there have been many days when climbing into the car and driving to the golf course was a job, not a passion. Many hot, steamy afternoons in Arkansas or Texas when hitting one more bag of balls, or spending one more tedious hour on the putting green, was labor – and we’re not always talking about a labor of love.
A few years ago, when his once-lucrative endorsement money dried up and gambling problems escalated as his life seemed to crumble around him, Daly said he might have considered doing something other than playing pro golf – but golf is the only thing he has known since he was 4. He went back to work. Daly won for the first time in six years on Sept. 2, capturing the BMW Invitational in Germany and setting a PGA European Tour scoring mark along the way.
At least Daly had tasted victory before. He had an inkling what it might be like. That wasn’t the case, at least not at the highest echelon of the game, for Texans Edwards and Golden.
Edwards won his first PGA Tour event in his 316th PGA Tour start, seizing the Air Canada Championship. Armed with the tournament’s lead on Saturday night, he barely slept, and on Sunday morning, as often happens before he tees it up in competition, he became physically sick before his round. Once out on the golf course, an entire gamut of emotions rolled through his body.
“The times that I was thinking about today were the times I went to practice when I didn’t want to,” Edwards said afterward. “When I’d be home (in Texas) and wanting to stay home and feeling pretty guilty about going to practice, because I should stay home with my son and my wife. I went ahead and did anyway. . . . you go practice for a moment like this.”
Golden not only won for the first time at the LPGA’s State Farm Rail Classic, but, like Edwards, she accomplished victory in emphatic fashion with a stirring final-round performance. All Golden did in winning for the first time in seven years on the LPGA was overcome a six-stroke deficit against the top player in the women’s game, Annika Sorenstam. Golden shot 63, the lowest final round by a winner in more than a decade.
Pretty impressive. A Golden moment for the ages.
All three had persevered through the long, lean times, rising to the very top of their profession, at least for a day. It makes all those extra practice balls and hours on the putting green worth it. The winner’s check and a few headlines are nice. But nothing tastes quite so sweet as victory itself.
“This doesn’t happen every day,” said Edwards, who will be 40 in November and has been playing golf for 25 years. “It’s a moment in your life when you actually did what you thought you could do. . . . It’s cool, man.”