Monday, July 20, 2009

The British Open's Gracious Loser: Old Foggy Doesn't Win

Tom Watson's choking away the lead that tied the British Open, and then losing big in the sudden death round, was a career disappointment for him and a big let down for the many who were following the story. So when he looked around at the press conference and saw a sea of dejection, he quipped, "This ain't a funeral." He said jokingly that an appropriate headline would be something like "Old Foggy Doesn't Win."

Of course it may be easier to make light of it all, however, I like Watson's comments because , in spite of the fact that he lives and breathes the PGA, he still sees that even a heartbreaking loss at the British Open is NOT life or death. It's still a GAME, and he plays and is paid for its entertainment value. Many expected that it would have made for even better entertainment if he had actually pulled it off!

Francis Bacon wrote that while Old Covenant promises prosperity, the New promises adversity. And it seems that we live in that world of cause and effect. That if we observe the right religious rules, then God will bless us with lots of neat stuff. But that's only a reflection of our larger cultural idol of entitlement and deserved status. Earning our way is the American way, and when someone like Watson says that a winning finish is not ultimate, then it should help us to reflect on where we're living, and if that life allows us to see and receive life as gift; the grace of God.

No one would want to be in Watson's shoes. He said that this whole experience was nothing less than gut-wrenching. At the same time, we can learn from his experience if we're smart. A sense of perspective and appropriateness is what only wisdom and faith could bring to such a moment.

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