I was sitting at an outdoor restaurant in Athens, Greece when a woman walked by and heard me speaking my limited Greek to the waiter. She noted that I was an American and asked where I was from. “Jacksonville,” I said as she laughed. “No, not in the States, I mean where are you from here,” she explained. “My family is from Ikaria, but I’m half Greek. The other half’s Irish,” I said. “Me too,” she said with a smile. “So you’re incredibly sentimental with a short fuse,” and laughed. “Pretty much,” I said, laughing as she walked away.
My fuse is a bit longer than it used to be, in fact, I don’t much get upset any longer, I just remember.
I tell that story because I believe there’s a bit of truth to the different personalities you can find in different parts of the world. I’m pretty proud of my heritage, and I know it shapes who I am and always will. Kind of a round about way to talk about Sergio Garcia and the British Open Championship.
I was watching some of the post-round wrap up and just laughed out loud when several of the Golf Channel announcers chastised Garcia for his comments after his runner up finish. “I’m playing against a bunch of guys out there. Probably more than the field,” Sergio said referring to his own ‘bad luck.’ The announcers intoned that Garcia had some growing up to do and that we got a look into the “window of his soul” with those comments.
Tim Rosaforte is an American, but has traveled the world covering golf. Brandel Chamblee is a former PGA Tour player and Peter Oosterhuis is English, so for them to comment on a Spaniard’s comments moments after he lost the Open, should have had a bit of perspective, but none of them figured it out.
If you or I drive down the street and our car starts smoking and stops, we figure, “Well, I should have changed the oil,” or something like that. At least my American sensibilities tell me that’s how I should act. A Spaniard, (or an Italian, or a Greek or many other Europeans) have a completely different reaction. If their car stops on the side of the road, they jump out, hit the fender and say, “My car, it hates me!” And that’s how Sergio was reacting.
He was looking for that one break, that one good bounce that he thought he had earned through his stellar play over the first three rounds. It’s no reflection on anything but his sensibilities. That’s how Sergio thinks. That’s how Seve thought as well. There’s a fire there, a belief that there’s a little bit of magic going on in the world, not just a bunch of plodding strikes of the ball. It can help you, or it can hurt you, but you can’t harness it.
If you think that’s a bunch of bull, that’s ok, and if you think it’s a lack of accountability for your actions, that’s ok too. But when Sergio hits the ball at the hole and the next time it hits the stick and goes in, just chuckle a little bit and give thanks for the little bit of magic that was involved. And when Sergio gets a couple of those breaks and he believes they’re going in his favor, he’ll win. A lot.
All congrats to Padraig Harrington as well. He took the breaks he got, the little bounces toward the hole instead of into the rough and he made himself a champion.