Sunday, Aug. 21
Students and friends of mine who do not play the game of golf sometimes have trouble understanding it. They think the game is only for the "old preppies" of the world who became bored of cricket, or something along those lines. Well, as someone said tonight, "It's important to remember that golf is just a game, it's just the greatest game." I hope the following will give some insight as to why this is, as well as some fun information about the tourney this week.
Prior to qualifying for the U.S. Amateur, I was under the impression that the only difference between a professional golfer and an amateur is which box one checks when applying for tournaments, or at the least a means to protecting NCAA eligibility. Surely, given the opportunity, anyone would play professional golf, right?
I was wrong. The definition, as it was put tonight at the players' dinner, is "One who carries the art, study and play for the love of the game, not for money." Tonight confirmed my pride in being an amateur golfer and how much the game has done for me. I have shared some of the best times of my life with family and friends on the golf course, and the game has provided me a sense of discipline and integrity that it provides all its loyal followers, many of which find themselves at this tournament. It's an honor to be part of this field, made up of the best collegiate players in the country and abroad, as well as some of the best old and young players in the world.
With that said, I have also thought a lot this week about the courses we will play. Philadelphia Country Club is more scorable, but both PCC and Merion deserve conservative play and respect. Merion, in particular, demands nearly perfect physical and mental play. However, I do think my game matches up to this golf course well. With incredibly narrow fairways andthree par 4's over 500 yards, a controlled short game will be very important. I am especially excited to play Merion where Bobby Jones won his grand slam 75 years ago this week.
I have a good mindset right now, remembering pieces of advice I've picked up along the way. Among these, the most important is the fact that whether I play well or poorly, I will be glad I played in this tournament for the rest of my life. I was first told to keep this in mind before the Ivy League Championships, and have used it to replace stress with excitement and gratification many times over. Stress, to begin with, does not exist. It's something we, as players, make up out of thin air and impose on ourselves. I will play to have fun this week as I always do, and keep the valuable advice I have taken from my parents, coaches and friends in the back of mymind throughout this entire week.
For now, I have a good night's sleep ahead of me. Tomorrow I will take each shot one at a time like I have for years, and at the end of the day I hope these shots will add up to something very respectable relative to par.