I am not a golfer. I have played a few rounds, at the request of friends who understand that games, including golf, are for fun, and who are willing to laugh at themselves and, especially, at me. I had a few decent shots and understand why others love the game. Nailing it just right feels pretty good. Nonetheless, I haven’t picked it up. I think the idea of acquiring more equipment for yet another activity turned me off.
So I was surprised this afternoon to be inspired by a golfer. I was listening to NPR’s Fresh Air. The host was interviewing John Feinstein, author of the new book Are You Kidding Me? The tale is about the 2008 US Open challenge to Tiger Woods by Rocco Mediate, a low-ranking golfer who almost beat the best golfer in the world. He didn’t beat Tiger Woods in the end, but the story is pretty amazing.
Mediate was ranked 158th in the world and had to earn a spot in the US Open in a qualifier. At the end of a 36-hole tournament he made it through an eleven-man tie to get into the Open, with only 156 others. Then he stayed at or near the top until he and Tiger Woods were tied. They had to play an 18-hole tie-breaker to determine the winner. At the end of that it came down to the last hole. Tiger Woods had to make a put to win. Which he did.
The amazing part of all this is, of course, that someone so obscure in a professional sport could come so close to beating someone so well-known for being so good. The really amazing part of this is that Rocco Mediate had battled injuries and health problems. He was known as someone who was really good when he was healthy, that qualifer being pretty important.
Here is how I was inspired. Last summer I trained for the Vermont 50. I pulled a muscle and had to stop running. This spring I started training again. Then I busted my toe and had to stop running. But Rocco Mediate lost to Tiger Woods by one stroke after being a good golfer sometimes for years and years. He kept a good attitude, a sense of humor, and never gave up. He kept playing.
So why should I give up? I only decided to start training again for the 50 last spring. I am just about ready to run again. I will need to pick things up from the beginning again but so what? Maybe I can’t run the 50 this fall but what about next year? I just need to be persistent. I just need to get back into it and keep at it. I don’t need to win. I don’t even need to come one stroke away from winning. Heck, I would pleased to be ranked 158th.
So, thanks, Rocco. I am hoping this weekend to get out for my first run in just over a month. I appreciate your story. I will think of it when I need to get out there on those cold and wet days. And then I will get out there and run.