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Just Give Me One of the Big Ones

July 2, 2007

In Happy Gilmore, one of the all time best movies, Happy plays his first professional tournament and can’t understand why they don’t pay him immediately following play. He notices that the winner received the traditional “big check” and just tells the tournament official, “Just give me one of the big ones.” Happy gets his big check, wins the gold jacket, saves Grandma’s house and naturally…gets the girl.

Meanwhile, in real life, to my great dismay, it turns out that even the winner doesn’t get to take home the big check. I guess that’s the bad news, but the good news is I found that out because I won a professional golf tournament.

I played in another Tarheel Tour event last week, this one in Charlottesville, Va. It was on a very nice course, bent grass wall to wall, let you hit driver often, made you work your shots, perfect greens, and the greens complexes reminded me of another course where I had played well in college, Caves Valley. I shot the low round of the day to open, a 67, and followed that with a kind of a disappointing 68 on a day when the course was docile and I was 4-under on the more difficult front side. Nonetheless, I was one back heading into the last day and felt like my low round was still to come.

Through eight holes the last round, I was one over and still one back. This really wasn’t bad though, the breeze was up a bit, and the pins were absolutely hidden in the corners of the greens. Anyway, I eagled 9 to take the lead, birdied 12, 13, 17 and 18 to shoot 67 and win by three.

It was very rewarding for a few reasons. First and most important, I felt like I learned so much in my first professional tournament, and was able to put it to good use in this event when I was faced with a similar situation. Second, I hit some shots I’ll remember for a long time, shots that I wasn’t initially comfortable with, but stuck to my routine and executed well. Tom Kite once said, “To be absolutely scared to death that you are not going to perform, and then you do. You pull the shots off–sometimes to your own amazement. It is an incredible feeling.”

I agree with him completely, it’s the holes, the situations, the shots that scare you, that you then pull off, that are most rewarding. It was fun to get a win in only my second start, and I definitely enjoyed it, but it’s only a small stepping stone along my path. Learning as much as possible, and then putting that to good use in future situations is what I am focused on. Winning is not an “I’ve arrived” moment, it’s more of a “I’m on the right track” confirmation.

In other happenings …

• I went to visit two of our ACC brethren last week, Virginia and Virginia Tech. After hearing so much about how beautiful and amazing UVA’s campus is, I felt like I could only be disappointed. I was not. I walked around campus the afternoon following my practice round and it really is a very special place. After the last round of the tournament I didn’t want to drive the nine hours back to Atlanta, so I called an old friend who played volleyball at Georgia Tech and is now coaching at Virginia Tech. I had a great time in Blacksburg, a very cool place, with a very cool vibe (and incredible bluegrass music at the Cellar). Anyway, I think we’re very lucky to live in a place where amazing universities like UVA, VT and the best of them all, Georgia Tech are so close by and accessible.

• I (with the help of my roommate) fixed the garage door opener and a dining room chair. This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but I’ve never been one to be called “handy”. Using a power drill and fixing a chair was a big step for me. (Yes, I do have a degree in engineering, which is a source of much humor to those that know me well).

• If you’re looking for new tunes, pick up “Soul Journey” by Gillian Welch. If you don’t like it, don’t blame me, you just have bad taste.

• Atlanta is such a dynamic place, and did you know that more college grads move to Atlanta every year than any other city. I just feel like there a lot of twenty-somethings hurtling forward in their lives, and Atlanta in the backdrop for this, it’s very cool.

• If you’re a parent with a child about to go to college, don’t read I Am Charlotte Simmons. It paints an incredibly accurate depiction of college life, although a bit exaggerated (Tom Wolfe beat a stereotype into the ground…no!)

Anyway, I’m in Atlanta this week, then back to North Carolina for another Tarheel event. I’m very very lucky to call a lot of incredible people friends, I think surrounding yourself with supportive, positive people is HUGE. So thanks to all of you.

Go Tech!!!!!!!

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