Monday, June 16, 2008

A Hero for the Average Guy

(Thanks to Kinnaird/Getty Images)

During the U. S. Open, of which I watched an inordinate number of hours, a simple but wonderful golf hero has been found.

Now, you may or may not have followed golf to know about Rocco Mediate, but if you watched the U.S. Open this year, you know about him now! Rocco took on the world’s best golfers and through a grueling 90 holes, he held his own. He wasn’t a big winner that was invited to play. He had to qualify just to show up for the tournament. Now, that’s not to say that he isn’t a good player. In fact, he is one of the rare few people on Earth that can play golf to that level. He had to take on a field of other fine players that, to his own comments, hit the ball 50 yards further than he during the qualifying tournaments. In the end, he beat them all to earn a slot in the tournament.

Once in the Open, he plugged away hitting his relatively short drives effectively, smartly approaching the greens, putting well enough, and keeping himself out of trouble on a tough course. He played without the dazzle and drama that was displayed by an injured Tiger Woods. He just kept going ala the energizer bunny. Not to mention talking…endlessly. Rocco’s chattiness was funny because the interviewers couldn’t get a word in edgewise. They had to practically butt in to pose the next question to him. I can hear Bob Costas now, “Does this guy ever take a breath?”

My point isn’t to re-cap the U.S. Open, but to relate to you my thoughts on this new hero for all of us regular folk.

Rocco is not the advertisers dream. He doesn’t have the athlete’s body, the model’s face, nor is he a power hitter driving the ball to the moon or anything of the sort. He has been plagued with back trouble so he has an odd gait and doesn’t have the worlds classic golf swing. In essence he is a little goofy, but he is also humble and real. He is, from what I can tell in his interviews, an honestly happy guy who is truly ecstatic to be doing what he loves for a living. He is also supremely positive, which is pretty much the antithesis of me on a golf course. Sorry…again…to all that have to put up with me fussing during rounds.

At the end of 4 days of grueling golf, Rocco and Tiger were tied, so they had to play another 18 hole playoff on Monday.

In discussions of what Rocco could do to beat the “unbeatable” Tiger, we felt that talking him to death would be a viable option. Rocco should just start chatting up the stoic Tiger in the club house and continue for the next 5-6 hours straight. When Tiger wouldn’t respond to Rocco’s friendly banter, Rocco should then answer himself just to keep it going. We figured that Tiger would eventually snap and run screaming down the fairway yelling “HE DOESEN’T EVER TAKE A BREATH! HOW CAN HE KEEP TALKING?!?!?” And in doing so, he would forfeit the tournament to Rocco.

By the way, doesn’t “Rocco vs. Tiger” sound like more of a prize fight than a golf match?
At the end of that playoff, guess what! The goofy and happily chatty Rocco was still tied with Tiger. Alas, Tiger finally won on the first sudden death hole of the play-off’s play-off. This was truly one of the best finishes to a golf tournament I have seen. It had great golf, drama, and a kind of goofy normal person versus perhaps the greatest golfer of all time.

The winner may be the fans because many of us, who are also without the looks, bodies, perfect athletic prowess, and youth, that the marketing machine would want, had the best underdog to cheer for.

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