My Year in Golf: Jeff Rude
Friday, December 14, 2012
Editor's note: For our entire "My Year in Golf" series, click here.
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Flipping through the calendar, front to back, I remember being there ...
When Hank Kuehne and Rickie Fowler played a money game against Jesper Parnevik and Luke Donald at Medalist Golf Club a few holes away from where Tiger Woods was practicing by himself.
When somebody’s tee shot hit Michael Jordan’s cart at Derek Jeter’s charity outing and MJ playfully yelled out, “Some people shouldn’t be golfing.”
When C.C. Sabbathia told me at Jeter’s deal that when he pitches well people don’t think he’s fat and when he pitches poorly people say that he needs to lose weight.
When Tony Jacklin went on and on at Concession Golf Club about the Ryder Cup and you couldn’t get enough.
When Kyle Stanley somehow blew a seven-stroke on Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open and cried a river, a week before he remarkably came from eight back to win at the Waste Management Phoenix Open.
When Stanley said he was at peace with the blowup two days later and then showed he wasn’t kidding.
When Dana Quigley played the Allianz Championship and, with regard to his son being in a coma after a recent car accident, said, “I’m here to show people you can have tragedies and, if you have enough faith, you can live through it and continue your life.”
When Hunter Mahan took down Rory McIlroy at the WGC Accenture Match Play in a season he would win again but not make the Ryder Cup team.
When Arnold Palmer, in his Bay Hill office a day after Tiger Woods bristled at a reporter, said, “He has to be easy with the press. ... Point is, you can be congenial and nice, and it’ll work.”
When Woods withdrew abruptly during the final round at Doral because of a recurring Achilles tendon problem and people wondered his squeaky wheel would hold up for the long haul.
When Ernie Els blew the Transitions Championship with two closing bogeys, barked at a TV reporter and later said, “It’s going to be tough to get over this.”
When Woods, two weeks after his early Doral exit, won the Arnold Palmer Invitational by five shots, ended a PGA Tour winless drought of about 30 months and seemingly had two strong legs.
When Fred Couples, at 52, became the oldest player to lead the Masters midway.
When Bubba Golf eventually took the Masters by storm.
When Tom Watson said a week later that he learned something by watching Bubba practice chipping at Augusta.
When Simon Hobday answered my questions for an hour at the Legends of Golf and made me understand why many people call him the funniest man in golf history.
When Dave Eichelberger said he used to go in the bushes with binoculars to watch Ben Hogan practice.
When Kevin Na waggled a million times at The Players and, despite all that mental tangling, managed to lead after 54 holes.
When, speaking of waggles, Jason Dufner showed no pulse after holing a 25-foot putt on 18 to win the HP Byron Nelson Championship for his second victory in 22 days.
When Tour rookie Harris English shot 60-63, won the British Open qualifying in Plano, Texas, by four strokes and said, “I kind of lost track of how many straight birdies I made (six).”
When Dickie Pride, who finished second at the Nelson, said in an enjoyable 45-minute, one-on-one interview two days later, “People don’t know where I’ve been the last 10 years ... because I gave them no reason to know.”
When at their magical wedding tournament my son, Scott, shot 69 on his own ball and his bride, Maggie, made a hole-in-one.
When Rickie Fowler and Jim Nantz starred in their funny, elaborate wedding video that quickly made its way to YouTube.
When a former toilet cleaner at Sydney Cricket Stadium (Anthony Summers, 42) shot 66-67–133, medaled at U.S. Open Sectional Qualifying near Chicago, and called his old janitorial duty a good job.
When fellow qualifier Tim (Lumpy) Herron, wearing shorts, said, “We had played 33 holes, I’m 42, I’m 50 pounds overweight and I got a little tired,” after a couple of late bogeys.
When a crazy U.S. Open at Olympic Club reminded of what the late Tony Lema once said, “The Masters is fun. The U.S. Open is work."
When Fred Couples and Aaron Rodgers walked inside the ropes in a Woods-Mickelson group at Olympic and Rodgers never once did any discount double check.
When David Duval granted an hourlong one-on-one interview in the Open television compound and said of his prime: “Back then it was all about me and all about golf. Life has opened up to me. I’m pretty lucky not to be the same person. It was a very narrow-minded existence back then. I’ll be certain to never live that way again.”
When my 84-year-old mother, holding my hand, died of heart failure 24 hours after collapsing at a lunch joint, where she paid $9.21 for two hot dogs, fries and a soft drink.
When it took more than a hour to get out of the rental car lot in Manchester, England – a lead up to being pulled over that night by an animated cop who somehow didn’t give me a ticket.
When Adam Scott, four up with four holes to play, handed Ernie Els a gift called the Claret Jug at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
When Woods bunted his way around Lytham all week with long irons and might have won if not for a Sunday triple bogey.
When Scott returned to competition at Firestone Country Club and said he spent a lot of post-defeat time on his couch because “I really just felt a bit shocked and almost a numb feeling about it.”
When Rory McIlroy lapped another field by eight in the PGA at Kiawah Island during a week in which some bus rides to or from the course took 2 1/2 hours.
When Davis Love III talked one-on-one for more than an hour in the Wyndham Championship locker room and said, “I lost my dad (at 24) and had a lot of responsibilities and didn’t want to think about it. I got in a habit of doing something for somebody else or doing something fun or working on my golf game and never slowing down. Keep my mind occupied. I don’t want to sit down and waste time. I don’t think I’m hiding from anything.”
When McIlroy, at the BMW Championship, won his third event in four weeks and said, “I’m getting to that stage where I’m thinking this is what I should be doing ... lifting a trophy at the end of the week.”
When the United States somehow blew a 10-6 lead and lost a Ryder Cup in which Ian Poulter appeared he might combust after every birdie.
When Mac O’Grady called and talked for an hour, saying things like, “The Tour is disfiguring the Mona Lisa” by doing away with PGA Tour Q-School.
When Charlie Beljan showed why the word “miracle” is in the name of the Children’s Miracle Networks Hospital Classic.
When Lee Trevino made me laugh for much of an hour on the telephone by saying things like, “I told a guy the 11th hole (at Shinnecock Hills) is the toughest par 5 I’ve ever played. He said, ‘But Lee, it’s a par 3.’ I said, ‘B.S., you’ve never played it.’ ”
When, just a second ago, I smiled knowing it was yet another interesting year.