Golf isn’t just about winning and losing. Camaraderie, respect for the opponent, an appreciation for the moment and, especially, good sportsmanship are components which make the game extra special for those who cherish it.
And occasionally there is that singular moment which embraces all those things and elevates the game. One of those moments – two actually – came in the third round of the Masters.
Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia began the third round at Augusta National Golf Club as contenders to win the Green Jacket. After two solid rounds, they were poised to challenge. It didn’t happen. They started poorly and never got untracked – Garcia shooting 75 and McIlroy 77. The two world-class golfers had not managed a single birdie between them when they reached the par-3 No. 12 hole.
There, they both made birdie 2 and what happened next demonstrated that they understand what golf is all about, especially at Augusta National where the backdrop is so stunningly perfect that nothing could be too difficult to bear.
McIlroy and Garcia hugged. With big smiles on their faces and arms outstretched, the Ulsterman and the Spaniard greeted each other on the green and … hugged. How cool was that? And it was so cool they did it again, just for the sake of fun, at the end of the round.
“It would have been better if it were my girlfriend, but that was the best we could get at the moment,” Garcia said.
McIlroy said, “We needed to feel a little love from someone out there. Yeah, it was a nice moment in the round filled with not‑too‑good moments.”
It certainly was a nice moment and it is a lesson golfers everywhere can learn from and savor. Even when things aren’t going well, a smile, a hug and a little love make golf the great game it is.