"Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th."
~ Julie Andrews
This past weekend, I watched the Masters Golf Tournament with John. I'm not a golfer, not even a sports enthusiast, but I enjoy watching golf. And I think John enjoys having me watch with him. That's a good thing, because as our world becomes smaller and smaller, and we are with each other almost 24/7, finding things we enjoy together has become more imperative.
I'm enjoying learning more about golf, about the nuances of the sport, its rich history and protocols, the various tournaments and courses, and above all, the golfers. Perhaps, its the legacy of growing up with Arnie and Jack, their ups and downs, their families, their charities, watching them age along with us. Perhaps its the relative absence of scandal and notoriety in the sport. (I did say relative absence.) And the presence of families, in some cases generations of families. This sport speaks to my values as well as my history.
I now root for a couple youngsters - Ricky Fowler and Jason Day - and am particularly fond of the Spanish veteran, Sergio Garcia, who has had the reputation of being the best golfer who has never won a major PGA tournament. So Sunday found me cheering for him, hoping against hope that he would finally win his first major, and not just any tournament, but the revered Masters, the tournament that has plagued him for the 19, yes, 19 years, in which he has competed. "I hope he wins. Please let him win. Come on Sergio. You can do it, Sergio."
And he did. He played his way into the lead, was overtaken, fought back to a tie, and finally won by two strokes in the playoff. And the crowd roared - Sergio, Sergio, Sergio.
In the days since his victory, I've considered why I like him, I'd even say that I admire him. Why did I become so invested in his win? Why did I take such pleasure in his joy and celebration? (And I did. You would have thought I knew him personally, that he was my kid brother or nephew.)
The obvious answer is that I often cheer for the underdog, but in this case it is more than that, much more. I admire his perseverance, his tenacity. Nineteen years and he plays with the same competitive passion as he did the first year I watched him. I respect the respect he shows for his mentors. Proteges often forget those who taught, and supported, and encouraged. He never does. I applaud his loyalty - his coach is his father, always has been. Even when Sergio grew discouraged and almost quit the sport, he never abandoned his dad, just worked harder. And what he apparently worked on was his mental game. That may be what I admire the most. That he looked inward, and grew not just as a golfer, but a man. Perseverance, respect, loyalty, hard work, personal responsibility.
In this day when the news is filled with dysfunction and greed, venom and vitriol, murder and mayhem, it was such a joy to watch someone achieve his dream because he is talented and diligent. To hear him graciously, sincerely acknowledge his family and mentors. To see his joy and gratitude. To see the respect shown between the players and the crowds. To listen to thoughtful, nuanced commentary. To celebrate. To be reminded that this is still possible.