I don't particularly like golf, nor do I intend to watch much of it in the future, but I now have a favourite golfer.
There is no telling what makes you decide to begin rooting for a team or an athlete. Some folks just cheer for whoever is hot; winning; has the coolest uniform. That used to bother me but I don't care that much anymore. That said, the reward is greater and the journey is more fun if you just choose a team or player early and stick with it.
But where does it start? Often it is a chance event, like catching a live game at an early age or just growing up with a team. Sometimes it is something as minor as a logo or as central as a player who catches your eye early and it just snowballs from there.
For me, Steve Yzerman made me like the Red Wings when they dwelt in the cellar. I cheered for years, they won a few Stanley Cups, he retired, and I'm not a Wings fan anymore. About seven years ago I caught Marvin Harrison and Peyton Manning working their magic one Monday Night and I was hooked on the Indianapolis Colts. Cutting my knee open falling from my chair in agony when they lost in the playoffs one year only deepened my love. I almost randomly chose Liverpool a half dozen years ago and slowly grew to like some of their mainstays (Gerrard) and younger recruits (Torres!) as time went on.
But then there are these side-sports that you catch once in awhile, like golf. I golf once a year and have a few relatives who are into it, and end up seeing it on TV sometimes. So it can help to have a player. But I never have.
Until last week.
He's won a couple major tournaments this year with Tiger Woods injured. But that's not why I've decided he is my favourite golfer. It is much simpler than that. In fact it is as simple as the following 20-second portion of a five minute interview on PTI (Pardon the Interruption):
PTI: "How did those victories change you at all?
Padraig: "I don't think too much has changed really. Its certainly heightened my profile . . . . (laughter)"
PTI: "I wonder, though, if you have changed your expectations of yourself, just based on the stellar way you have played the last couple of years?"
Padraig: "You know, (pause) I would like to tell you I have, but I have a very strange outlook on golf: I play totally based on fear. And, you know, I'm always worried that I'm going to hit a bad shot, or whatever is going to happen.
I thought winning three majors it would change; I thought I'd be able to walk up to the first tee, and puff out my chest, and own the first tee, but I didn't, I'm just the same old guy who plods along, and, you know, I tee it up every week, I'm worried about missing the cut, I'm worried about hitting bad shots, I'm worried about the out of bounds down the left---all of things are going through my head. . . .
It really didn't change, even though I thought it would change, it just didn't happen."
So candid. So fragile. So fearful and self-conscious, even in success. Especially in success. So like me. And so honest about it. What a guy. I'm rootin for you in the Masters Padraig!
When is the Masters anyway?