The Gift and Curse of Sports Records: What Paul Goydos Got Himself Into

Will Leivenberg@@will_leivenbergFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2010

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 01:  Paul Goydos watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship at the Quail Hollow Club on May 1, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Is Paul Goydos, who became the fourth golfer to shoot a round of 59 (the lowest score in PGA Tour history), about to endure a similar, harsh twist of fate of this year's other sports stars like Ray Allen, Dallas Braden, and Armando Galarraga?

He has been given a gift, but will he fall to the curse of perfection?

When Ray Allen hit eight three-pointers in Game Two of the NBA Finals against the Lakers—effectively breaking the record for most threes in a single NBA Finals game, previously set by himself, Kenny Smith, and Scottie Pippen, he simultaneously received a gift and a curse.

Gift: Allen gave a three-point shooting clinic in arguably the greatest display of long-range perimeter shooting in NBA finals history. He defied the odds, defied the pressure, and defied history—all in 60 minutes of basketball.

Curse: In just 48 hours, Allen went from record breaker to ice cold choke artist, shooting a horrific, gut-wrenching 0-for-13 from behind the three-point line. Had Allen missed just one more three, he would have tied another record—Dennis Johnson's grueling 0-for-14  showing for Seattle against Washington in Game Seven of the 1978 NBA Finals.

Meanwhile, Braden of the Oakland A's pitched a perfect game, only to succumb to mediocrity the rest of the season.

Gallaraga of the Detroit Tigers has fallen even farther: After losing a perfect game with two outs in the ninth, he was recently relegated to the minors.

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Producing sports perfection is close to impossible. Repeating it? 

Well, that may in fact be impossible.

Just like a pitcher doesn't expect to throw a no-hitter or a batter doesn't formulate hitting for the cycle, golfers like Goydos don't plan on breaking records when they walk onto the first tee.

It's about competing at the highest level and giving it your all.

Goydos, who is 46 years old and ranked No. 118 on the PGA Tour, is just the fourth man to accomplish this miraculous golf feat, joining the likes of Al Geiberger (1977), Chip Beck (1991), and David Duval (1999).

Driving a golf ball far and long seems to be an easy thing, until you try it.

After stating that hitting a baseball was the hardest thing to do in sports, Ted Williams told Sam Snead, "The golf ball is just sitting there all pretty, snow-white, smiling, everybody's quiet like a church."

According to USA Today, a major league pitch reaches speeds of more than 95 mph, allowing hitters only 0.4 seconds to find the ball, decide where the ball is going, and swing the bat.

Similarly, a tennis serve by today's top tennis players is traveling at 185 feet per second (the ball can travel over 130 mph). At that speed, a player trying to return the serve has a half second to react and return the serve.

Each of these feats are testaments to the balance, control, and almost super-human instincts of professional athletes.

But for a sport that is often considered a recreational activity, old-timer's game, and hobby, don't count out golf.

Hitting a golf ball straight consistently is without a doubt among the hardest things in sports.

Correct golf technique blends the laws of physics with the limitations of the human body. Professionals strike the ball in a collision that lasts less then 1/1,000th of a second. 

In Thursday's round, Goydos successfully hit the fairway 93 percent of the time and carded just 22 putts.

In the wake of Goydos' phenomenal feat, the question now looms—will he make any birdies in tomorrow's second round?

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