On Sunday afternoon I walked more than 8.5 miles, drank five bottles of water plus a single orange Gatorade, sweated clear through a straw hat and witnessed the greatest golf shot I have ever seen up close.
The shot came from Sungjae Im on the final day of the Wyndham Championship, right now one of the 10 best golfers in the PGA, and none of us on the sidelines understood why he laid up his second shot on the 5th Hole at Sedgefield, popping the ball just 123 yards from the rough to the middle of the fairway, rather than make a move for the green, a 200-yard shot he could have carried with a high iron.
He lofted the third shot from 108 yards out and dropped it to the rear of the green, where it slow-rolled backwards right into the cup. An Eagle!
I couldn’t use this moment in my story about the golf tournament in this week’s paper, but it was one of the most amazing sports moments I’ve ever covered, nonetheless. And I was there when Lehigh beat Duke in the first round of the Final Four in 2012.
Basketball is easy for a reporter: They give you a seat courtside, all the statistics you could ask for, a fast internet connection and free food. Golf takes more work. And though every sports reporter knows that you can adequately cover any game or tournament without leaving your space in the media center — or, for that matter, the bar — every year I make a point to walk the course every day, at least once and often more as I dart between holes to watch the tournament leaders as they rise and fall.
But this year I followed just one guy, John Huh, a golfer with a compelling backstory who was the Round 1 leader but got knocked into second place before he even teed off on the second day. He flirted with First Place the entire tournament, though he wasn’t able to hold it until the finish — which, by the way, was spectacular.
Sungjae Im was right up there with him; they were in the same trio on the last day, and Huh made eagle on Hole 5 as well, just not as spectacularly as Im.
In the end, they tied for Second Place in the tournament and assured spots in the FedEx Cup playoffs, which starts this week. Im got the big shot. But Huh got the cover.
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