Chances as professional slim [UPDATED]Published 7:42am Monday, April 15, 2013 Updated 9:45am Monday, April 15, 2013
Someone in our newsroom asked me what I thought of 14-year-old Guan Tianlang, the youngest player ever to play in golf’s most prestigious tournament by two years who shot a one-over-par 73 at the Masters on Thursday, putting him within striking distance of the lead.
My response: A curse word under my breath.
Sure, I should be happy for the eighth-grader who qualified as an amateur and clearly has the poise and mental toughness of someone far, far older. In fact, I’m going to say he has the mental toughness that few will ever possess at any age.
I’m also sure I’ll enjoy watching him this weekend, provided he doesn’t fold under the pressure, shoot in the 80s on Friday and miss the cut.
That said, knowing that a 14-year-old, not that much older than my 8-year-old daughter, has played well in the Masters makes me, to some degree, jealous and depressed.
I can recall a “career day” in seventh or eighth grade when a bunch of adults came in to talk about careers in various fields.
Wanting to become a professional golfer, I chose the professional sports talk. I had been golfing since kindergarten, was one of the better golfers among kids my age at the time, and was told by several coaches that I had the “potential” to be a good golfer.
A former minor league baseball player gave his assessment on our chances of becoming professional athletes: slim and none, and slim just left town. He was absolutely right, of course, because I’m fairly certain none of us who attended his talk ultimately played professional sports.
My only glimpse into the world of professional golf came as a senior in high school. During the regional golf meet that year, I played with Andy Brink, 14-year-old wunderkind from Bemidji. While I hung with Brink for about 12 holes, my mental toughness wasn’t in the same league as Brink’s, and I went into the tank the last six holes and failed to qualify for state.
Brink qualified for state that year. He went on to play in college, and then professionally on a minor league tour.
I played with him a couple of years ago. He said while he played well, he couldn’t throw up the barrage of birdies necessary to compete with PGA Tour professionals, and has since gone on to another career.
At this point, at an age when most professional golfers are on, shall we say, the waning years of their primes (think Phil Mickelson), I constantly have to remind myself while on the golf course that the game is fun, and that those dreams of playing professionally are not only over, but they’ve been over for, oh, 30 years.
More importantly, I have forced myself into the realization that, yes, I had the potential to play good golf. Had I practiced more, found a really good swing coach, hired a sports psychologist at an early age, went out for the college team and signed up for every golf tournament I had time for, I may be a better golfer than I am today.
But I was never, ever going to be contending at the Masters.
If the fact that a 14-year-old is contending this week doesn’t bring closure to any delusions of granger, I’m not sure what would.
It is still annoying, though.
• • •
This week, I had a Mrs. Fields mini-cookie — two of them, in fact. It only took fractions of a second after finishing them — tasting the combination of soft, chewy cookie dough and sweet chocolate chips — that my stomach and mouth said, in a really loud voice, I WANT ANOTHER ONE!!! as a 2-year-old would.
That episode summed up my struggles to lose more weight. It took every disciplined bone in my body not to call back the person in our office giving out those cookies so I could get another one … or two … or three.
I love the people who say education is the key to the obesity crisis. Does anyone really not know that exercising and eating veggies make one healthy, and sitting on the couch and eating doughnuts will not? Come on.
I have heard the technique that, if you still feel hungry after you’ve just eaten what should have been enough, wait for 15 minutes. More often than not, your hunger will go away.
Man that’s hard. Especially if, say, you’re at a party and appetizers of every kind are strung out on a table. Cookie monster wants to eat, and there’s little stopping him.
I also have found out that I tend to “reward” myself if my weight goes in a positive direction. It’s OK to eat more, I say to myself, I have earned it.
Of course, soon after, the weight goes back up. What a pain. I see those people who are really good at just saying no. I have to admire them.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s Publisher. Email him at email@example.com