My Year in Golf: Sean Martin
Editor's note: For our entire "My Year in Golf" series, click here.
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Michael Weaver and Steven Fox sat with their fathers on the porch of Cherry Hills’ clubhouse in August, throwing back some of the course’s famed milkshakes while sharing stories of their day’s success on their cell phones.
Golf was on the flat-screen television, specifically a tape-delayed broadcast of their victories in the U.S. Amateur’s semifinals, allowing them to relive the greatest day of their golfing lives. It was a moment these fathers and sons would remember the rest of their lives, regardless of the following day’s outcome.
They’d turned into quasi-celebrities for this one week in Denver. They signed autographs after their victories in the U.S. Amateur semifinals and were invited to a luxury box for that evening’s Denver Broncos preseason game, where they’d be shown on the JumboTron. They weren’t even the best players on their college teams this year, but they’d earned invitations to the Masters and the U.S. Open, and they did so with their fathers on the bag.
My myriad duties at Golfweek allow me to see a lot of moments, like this one, that never make it on television. I cover everything from the majors the amateur events, and sometimes it’s the smallest events that are the most rewarding. They make heroes out of players who toil in anonymity.
Dylan Frittelli almost didn’t make it from South Africa to the University of Texas before his freshman season. He wasn’t allowed to board his U.S.-bound flight because he only had photocopies of his documentation. He had to sleep alone in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport while his mother scrambled to get the papers to a cellphone-less son a continent away. He had 24 hours to obtain the original documents or face deportation, which would hinder his chances of entering the United States. He got the documents with a few hours to spare.
Frittelli was a model student-athlete during his time at Texas, earning both All-American and All-America Scholar honors, but he saved his best moment for last. His 20-foot birdie putt on the final hole clinched Texas’ NCAA title.
I’ve made my niche at Golfweek following the up-and-comers. I enjoy watch players experience highs and lows as they work their way up golf’s meritocracy, trying to make the most of the limited opportunities before reaching their ultimate goal. I remember talking to John Peterson before the U.S. Open as he described his courtesy car that had been side-swiped by another car. He was still smarting from his Walker Cup omission and the start of a pro career that hadn’t gone as smoothly as he’d hoped. It seemed unlikely that he’d almost win the U.S. Open just a few days later, but that’s exactly what happened. He made a hole-in-one in the third round and an unfortunate double-bogey on his 70th hole before finishing fourth, just two shots behind Webb Simpson.
Peterson failed to advance out of Q-School’s second stage this fall. He’ll spend next season on the Web.com Tour, though he’s also guaranteed starts on the gilded grasses of Augusta National and Merion. Weaver and Fox will join him there, all three taking a unique, and unexpected, path to the game’s biggest events. Their journey was just as impressive as the destination.