Hadley, Reed display great sportsmanship
OOLTEWAH, Tenn. – Today, I don’t want to do a list. I don’t want to do a preview, or a Q&A with a player or coach. Instead, I want to tell everyone what I was honored to say I witnessed this afternoon.
Let me just say this: The most heated moment at the national championship was also the classiest, with the best sportsmanship I have ever witnessed.
There I was, standing on the 18th green at The Honors Course, watching Augusta State trail Georgia Tech 2-1 in the match-play quarterfinals. Augusta State’s Patrick Reed was playing Georgia Tech’s Chesson Hadley. Reed had a 1-up lead as they walked to the 18th green.
Hadley was away, looking at a 35-foot birdie putt, while Reed was 12 feet away, thinking a two-putt par would be good enough to win.
Then the ball started rolling. Closer and closer, inch by inch, until boom! Hadley dropped a bomb on Reed, and for a moment, the thought that Augusta State had lost its sure-fire win.
Hadley jumped and cheered right in front of Reed. You can feel the nerves shaking off of Hadley simply because he really didn’t know how to react or what would happen next. It appeared as if Hadley might have been taunting Reed, but really, he was just caught in what appeared to be a magical moment.
As Reed was lining up his crucial putt, you could still see Hadley shaking on the green. You could see a mix of nervousness and anxiousness wrapped in Hadley, who couldn’t believe the ball found the bottom of the hole for a birdie.
Now, it was Reed’s turn. He needed the birdie to halve the hole -– and to win the match and give his team a crucial point.
The second the ball left his putter, Reed knew it was in. We all saw on 18 Reed fist-pump and yell twice as loud as Hadley did after his birdie. It was one of those great national championship moments you wish you could have been there to see.
It’s what happened right after Reed celebrated that I will always remember. Here were two competitors battling all day for their team. Two great players that knew how crucial their match was.
It would first appear that the two were showboating after they made their putts, but that’s not what happened at all. These were two guys caught in the moment, taking in the moment, and celebrating their moment.
After Reed fist-pumped and realized he won the match, Hadley just had a look of “What can I do?” It’s what he did do that was the best sportsmanship I have ever seen.
Hadley walked right up to Reed, looked him in the eye and shook his hand. Reed looked him in the eye, shook it back and they gave each other a pat on the back. That moment they both realized what they had each done on the 18th hole, and both realized how special it was.
There was no showboating, anger or poor attitudes. Instead, everyone on 18 saw two great players give each other a handshake, congratulations and look to each other as if to say, “Wow, that was some match.”
It looked like things were going to get heated between Reed and Hadley, Augusta State and Georgia Tech. However, Hadley showed the ultimate sportsmanship along with Reed, and they ended their match as the classiest moment in the national championship.