There are so many ways to spend a Sunday. It's a day of rest for some, a day of worship for others; sometimes it's a day to do chores or hang out with friends.
For me, this particular Sunday was surreal. It began early as planned, that is nothing new. The men's final of the French Open was a must-see event, and I needed to take care of business in order to give the match my full attention.
The match was the perfect start to my day. Roger Federer had the chance to win his 14th slam and tie Pete Sampras. Could Federer finally conquer the center court at Roland Garros? Conquer he did, and the victory was sweet.
As I dried my few tears and reflected on Rog's win, I though about the historic implications of what I had just viewed live on my T.V.
My day fell back into my garden-variety Sunday routine, even though I had fused my ordinary day with an extraordinary sporting moment. I pondered Federer's unlikely course toward his goal as I finished cleaning my house.
I had just finished cleaning and was moving on to the next part of my day when a golden opportunity for sports viewing landed on my doorstep.
My sister phoned and told me that she had been given two passes to the Memorial Tournament that was taking place not too far from my home.
Little organization would be necessary to attend this event, and children under 12 are free, so it was settled. My sister and I would take my daughters out to watch Tiger—something fun for the girls on a Sunday.
I have lived in Columbus since well before the first Memorial was held. Until today, I had never attended.
A relatively recent convert to the sport, I became a golf fan while I was on bed rest and pregnant with my twins. I watched Tiger win the Masters that year.
Since then, I have felt that golf is a great T.V. sport: The hushed, tranquil tones of the announcers, the serene backdrop of manicured courses, and the performance of the golfers coming closer to the realm of the miraculous than I have witnessed in any other sport. Why not leave the tournament on all weekend?
Stepping out into the populous area around the 18th hole with the vivid late-afternoon shadows lengthening, and spotting Mike Weir setting up his putt, I wondered why I hadn't turned off my T.V. and gotten here sooner.
We were an array of people chatting and relaxing in the sun one moment and a silent horde the next, rapt by the actions of the pro who stood before us. Logistics could prove to be difficult with my girls, so we hunkered down and decided to wait for Tiger.
The poise and professionalism of the staff of the tournament also helped to make the day special. They were so courteous to my girls, going so far as to ask a PGA staffer to move and give my young Tiger fans a clear view of the man that we came to see.
I hadn't expected my day to feature another feat as amazing as Federer's that morning, but Woods was about to deliver. We had heard the roars come up from the crowd as Tiger approached, so the anticipation of a masterful stroke on the final hole continued to grow.
Televised golf features a reader-friendly leader board. On the course, reading the leader board was about as easy for me as reading Ulysses. For all I knew, Tiger was still four shots off the lead.
Yet, when we spotted his familiar silhouette heading up the fairway, I was satisfied. I was just glad to catch a glimpse of such a great golfer, athlete, and competitor. My daughters were ecstatic; seeing Tiger was an enormous thrill.
Tiger lined up his shot and let it fly. I lost sight of the ball in the glare of the sun, then it dropped with a thud just a few feet from the hole. The ovation was powerful! I felt goosebumps appear on my arms while others shored up buckled knees.
We had just seen Tiger closing the deal.
I didn't recognize the name listed at the top of the leader board, and I didn't care if he won. My girls, my sister, a whole lot of excited fans and I had witnessed Tiger emphasizing why he was the greatest.
To say he finishes strong doesn't begin to articulate watching Tiger on 18 on a Sunday afternoon. He decisively executed nearly perfect play on this last hole, then calmly struck a confident contrapposto pose while he awaited his turn to sink a two-foot putt.
Upon completing his round, Woods was warmly congratulated by the great Jack Nicholas.
What a day! I hugged my girls and we made a rapid exit, in search of food for our hungry group. We followed the serpentine paths winding around Muirfield, walking by a portion of the clubhouse exterior that was off the beaten path. Golf bags stood like soldiers in a row; at the end stood the bag with the stuffed Tiger club cover.
As we walked past, it felt as though the clubs themselves had an aura—it was like seeing Picasso's paintbrush or Elvis' white jumpsuit. The thrills kept coming!
My day had been a great gift. Never do I leave an event without knowing who won. Never do I turn off a televised tournament before the last hole has been played. Yet today I had grasped why we love Tiger so much. When we watched him make that shot at 18 with my girls, we were the winners.
My surreal day was winding to a close. As I cleaned up the dinner remnants, I absent-mindedly turned on ESPN in order to see just who did win the Memorial Tournament. News of Tiger's win was the icing on the cake, but it couldn't compare with my experience at the 18th.
The Irish often say that "a change is as good as a rest." They have hit the nail on the head with the saying. Spending a Sunday with your loved ones while cheering for your sporting heroes is not just time well spent. It lifts a humble day into the treasury of life's unforgettable moments.
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