St. Jude's Winner- Lee Westwood
What a Finish!
By kickntrue on 6/14/10
By Matt Snyder, ClubSG Contributor

Matt is an opinionated* golf enthusiast from Pennsylvania. He coaches at the high school level, molding the minds and swings of our next generation. His column will appear each Monday on ClubSG. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts and opinions of Matt in the comments. Don't hold back- because Matt won't.

After finishing up some housework Sunday afternoon, I decided to catch the end of the St. Jude Classic before heading out to the links myself. I tuned in when the last group was on the 16th hole. I saw that Robert Garrigus had the lead with two holes to go. I have to admit that I wouldn't have known him from Adam at the beginning of the week. But, after watching him on Friday and Saturday, I couldn’t help but be a fan and route for the ten year pro to get his first win.

I settled into my recliner in time to see Westwood make a bad bogey on 17 to extend Garrigus' lead to two strokes. When Robert poured in a birdie on 16 and gave himself a three-shot lead, I headed into the kitchen to get my things together. I figured I’d watch Garrigus play another hole and then head off to the course. However, after he pared the 17th, I decided to stick around and watch him finish out his round. I had no doubt that he was going to win, but I wanted to see him celebrate and hear what he had to say after the round. As he walked to the 18th tee, one of the announcers made the comment that he should aim for the hospitality tents on the right side and stay as far away from the water as possible. I kind of chuckled at this suggestion, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I was anxious to see if Garrigus would do exactly that as he teed it up. Well, as we all know, he did not. When he hit it in the water and any thoughts that I had about leaving quickly vanished as I was now glued to the television to see if he could hold it together and still win.

I sat there, absolutely stunned, and half sick in my own stomach. I could not believe what I was seeing.
After hitting his tee ball into the water, Garrigus chose to drop in the rough where the ball had crossed the hazard. This was certainly the correct choice. Unfortunately, it was his last correct choice. For some reason, instead of just punching the ball down the fairway, he chose to hit a full iron out of the thick rough. Well, that resulted in a low hook into the trees and only a fortunate break kept the ball out of the water for the second time. I sat there, absolutely stunned, and half sick in my own stomach. I could not believe what I was seeing. He would go on to make a triple bogey on the hole and force a three-way playoff.

What is the first hole of the sudden death playoff? Number 18, of course. This time, Robert would smash a three-wood right down the middle. However, the fairway is only 315 yards long. He hit his tee shot 325 yards and it stopped right behind a huge oak tree. Talk about adding insult to injury. He would punch out and the lip out his par putt while Westwood and Karlsson both made their pars. Just that quickly, Robert Garrigus saw his three shot lead evaporate and found himself eliminated from the playoff all at the hands of the 18th hole. Westwood and Karlsson would battle on for three more holes before Westwood made a beautiful birdie on 18 to win the tournament.

Well, so much for me getting to the course to play some golf myself. But, you know what, I was ok with it. While it was heartbreaking to see Garrigus blow his lead, I had a great time watching those guys battle it out in sudden death. And, beyond that, it was even more impressive to see him give his interview after the round. First of all, let’s not lose sight of the fact that he was willing to do an interview. I know of at least one guy who would never do an interview if those same circumstances happened to him, and he’s probably not the only one. But Garrigus stepped up to the plate and not only agreed to be interviewed, but he said all the right things. I’m sure he was sick and disgusted, but you would have never known it. He basically said, “I’ll get it next time”. Wow.

Tournament exemptions aside, Garrigus cost himself over $500,000 with his triple bogey. Ouch!
Can you imagine how much a win would have meant to this guy’s career? He’s a ten-year pro who has never won and has only been in the top five a couple times. He would have earned exemptions and invitations to tournaments like the Masters.

Tournament exemptions aside, Garrigus cost himself over $500,000 with his triple bogey. Ouch! I know how upset I am when I lose five dollars on the course, let alone 500,000. But, this guy didn’t throw any clubs. He didn’t scream any profanities. He didn’t blame anyone or anything else. Instead, he stayed calm and grinded out a good enough score to make the playoff. Then, after getting a terrible break, he punched out and gave himself another chance. He never whined about what happened or went off on a rant about how poorly he was playing. He stood tall and stayed classy.

I was pretty excited about getting out and playing golf last night, but I could not walk away from the end of the St. Jude Classic. It went from a semi-Cinderella story to a gut-wrenching melt down. While this may have been one of the biggest chokes of all time, I saw it for all the positives that these players brought to the game. I say congratulations to Westwood for winning, Karlsson for battling, and Garrigus for being an example of how to stay classy in face of adversity. He may not have shown us what to do when we have a lead on the last hole on Sunday, but he did show us all exactly how to behave when things go wrong. What a great finish to a great tournament that also happens to support a great cause. The best season of PGA Tour golf in a long time just keeps getting better. I just hope the guys like Karlsson, Westwood, and Garrigus, who play the game the way it is meant to be played, get some credit for doing what they do and representing the game of golf in a positive light.

* Matt's views and opinions are his own do not necessarily reflect those of SkyGolf.

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