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Character On Display at The Open Championship

by Jeff Skinner

Golf is the most rewarding of games and it can also be the most painful.  That was the case at Royal Lytham & St. Annes today as Adam Scott and Ernie Els felt the pain and reaped the rewards at The 141st Open Championship.

Scott squandered his lead in what looked to be a sure win for the Australian and Els came back from six off the lead at the start in one of the most unlikely wins in Open history.  But in my opinion the real story of the day isn’t marked by birdies, bogeys or the final score.  This tournament certainly will go down in history as an amazing major but it’s much more than a name on the Claret Jug.

Els and Scott showed that this was a game played by men of class and character, men of grace and dignity and men who care about each other.

As Ernie Els stood on the putting green thinking he would be meeting Scott in a playoff he got word that he had won and immediately hugged his caddie Ricci Roberts.  As Roberts wiped tears from his eyes Ernie said “we have to talk to Adam.”  Els and Scott are very close mates and Els knows from experience what a loss like this can do to a player.

In his Els’ first interview afterwards he said that,” I feel for my buddy.”  The two hugged and spoke before the awards ceremony and Ernie’s first remarks after being handed the Claret Jug were to acknowledge his opponent and good friend Scott.  In his press conference he said he hoped, “That he doesn’t take it as hard as I did.”  Ernie has been on the other end of things like this and he is worried about his buddy.

Adam Scott probably felt as crushed as a man could be but afterwards stood in there and faced the press with a calm and dignity that few of us could ever muster.  Scott said he was disappointed but he played well all week and he wouldn’t let this get him down.  He summed it up in two simple words, “That’s golf.”

He’s right, that is golf.  But I see it as more than that today.  Els and Scott showed that even at the highest level of golf, where the pressure is unbearable that men can still display character and grace in victory and defeat.

During Ernie’s acceptance speech he praised Scott for his talent and acknowledged their friendship.  After he thanked his family he went on to recognize Nelson Mandela for his contributions to South Africa.  And he thanked his close team of supporters and once again showed that he is a man that gets it.

Els and Scott will be forever linked by this day and I’m sure their friendship will be even stronger for it.  But more than their finish they both should praised for their inspiring character and grace and be lauded for the fact that they care about the game, they care about the world and they care about each other.  That’s golf.

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