This week, 156 really good golfers will tee it up at Torrey Pines in the 2021 U.S. Open Championship. The USGA accepted 9,069 entries and whittled down the players at 108 local qualifying sites then final qualifying that finished as recently as last week.
For some of those golfers, merely teeing it up in one of the qualifiers is a dream fulfilled. For others, nothing less than hoisting the trophy on Sunday will be enough. Like Phil Mickelson, who despite winning the recent PGA Championship and becoming the oldest golfer to ever win a major championship is still in search of his first U.S. National Championship.
Phil, now 51, has been the runner-up in the U.S. Open six times. Win or lose this year, we all know he’ll put himself all out there. And no matter how cool he tries to play it, he’ll be burning hot inside with his intense passion for the game.
As his brother and caddie Tim, said, “He loves golf – he just plain loves the sport.”
Speaking of passion, what about the women college golfers who were nearly robbed of the opportunity to compete in their final NCAA tournament due to unplayable course conditions. Barstool Sports came to the rescue, enlisted the help of Whirlwind Golf Course in Chandler, Arizona, and created the “Let Them Play” Classic. Barstool picked up their travel expenses and gave those golfers a mulligan they’ll never forget.
As Mickelson proves, age has nothing to do with it. I live at Moss Creek in Hilton Head, S.C., where the LPGA Legends recently competed. The event was hosted by Rosie Jones, 13-time LPGA Tour winner, seven-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team player, and Moss Creek resident, who staged it as a warm-up for her “friends” in advance of next month’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open.
The field of 16represented more than 65 LPGA Tour wins, several major championship titles, Hall of Famers, and former U.S. Solheim Cup players. They competed, they battled, and they had a blast, while my fellow Moss Creek residents thrilled to the camaraderie of old friends and some really good golf by this group of veterans.
No matter how young or how old, how good or how, er, not so good, we all love the game. It unites us, it binds us, it connects us. More than just the game for a lifetime, golf is the game for a wonderful life.