For a father
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Doctors had recommended he do very little walking. Had they known about the suffocating heat, they would have insisted upon it.
But doctors hadn’t said anything about his son’s blistering start in the first round of the Players Championship, so what’s a proud father to do? Dave Adamonis pushed onward over the back nine holes of the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Birdies at the par-5 11th and par-4 12th, then another par at the par-4 15th and par-5 16th.
Brad Adamonis was 4-under through seven holes and as he walked along, Dave Adamonis wore a brilliant smile that was a priceless picture.
No, golf can’t cure cancer.
But man, it sure can help ease the pain of that dreaded disease.
“I use him as inspiration,” Brad Adamonis said. “Here’s a guy who has like nine lives, really. He’s played through his sickness. If he can do that, then I feel like I can give it a little extra when I’m playing golf.
“Especially when he’s around.”
Which Dave Adamonis was, from start to finish, though being the straight-shooter that he is, he had to ‘fess up that 13 holes into his son’s round, he accepted a cart ride.
“There’s another cancer,” Dave Adamonis, 62, said. “And this one isn’t good.”
He took a deep breath, shrugged, then looked toward the green at the par-4 fifth where he watched his son slam-dunk a 42-foot birdie putt to 6-under. It was late in a sultry afternoon and a small gallery was following along, but the cheers were loud and the moment impactful, so far as Dave Adamonis goes.
It was so many years ago in Rhode Island when Dave Adamonis introduced his sons, Dave Jr. and Brad, to the game of golf, and their family has centered around the game for decades. Dave Adamonis built a hugely successful junior golf circuit in New England, and for the last few years he’s been the head coach at Johnson & Wales University.
But for the last few years, he’s also been a cancer patient. What sort of cancer? You name it, he’s had it since being diagnosed in 2005 – prostate, throat and neck, lymphoma. Now, it’s non-smoking lung cancer that has him up against the wall and headed to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
Good gracious, is he trying to set a world record of sorts in chemo treatments? Dave Adamonis fielded the question and laughed a good laugh.
“They’ve got to invent a drug for me,” he said.
Early in the round, Dave Adamonis looked up to see an old friend, Joe Monahan. They were golf teammates at Providence College a long time ago and neither has lost his passion for the game. Up in the Boston area he is known as “Joe the Pro,” a tribute to the way he plays the game with such skill. Joe Monahan is at the Players Championship as a proud father, too – his son, Jay, is the executive director of this prestigous championship – but it was Dave Adamonis he wanted to talk about.
“He’s a profile in courage,” Joe Monahan said. “He came up to me at the fourth hole (Brad’s 13th) and said, ‘I’m running out of gas.’ ”
Knowing what this round of golf meant to Dave Adamonis, Joe Monahan wasn’t about to see it come to an end. He used his connection and helped get a cart so that his old teammate could see the show go on – that birdie at the fifth, a solid par at the sixth, a bogey at the seventh, then two strong pars to close out a 5-under 67.
Playing in just his 49th PGA Tour tournament and first Players Championship after having perservered through so many mini-tour and Nationwide Tour seasons, Brad Adamonis could look up and see his name in a tie for fifth.
More meaningful, however, was the fact that he could look over and see the smile on his father’s face.
“I grew up playing golf with my dad. Hopefully, one of these days I’ll have a good event when he’s there.”
He’s a quarter of the way there and for that, Brad Adamonis probably owes thanks to his wife of four years. When her husband just last week heard the latest and gravest news about his father, Stacey Adamonis knew she had to act.
“I knew he was scared, he was sad, he was worried,” she said. “But I told him, ‘You can’t play scared anymore. If you want to do something, make your dream come true so his dream can come true.’ ”
Brad Adamonis took a positive step toward doing just that and when the seven-birdie, two-bogey effort was complete, his father got out of the cart to stand with family and friends.
All the medicine and all the treatments he has received from all the great doctors he has seen couldn’t match this day of golf, a game he loves, and how it was played so brilliantly by a son he loves even more.