As I write this blog on Thursday afternoon on my way to leaving for Stillwater, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to see my son, TC grad Thomas, I felt compelled to write about golf. Golf isn’t one of those high school sports that gets a lot of publicity, but I can assure you that our golfers put just as much effort into it as the sports that get much more publicity. I have to tell you about the emotional high of sport and the emotional low of sport.
On Monday at Carrollwood Country Club we hosted the regional boys’ golf tournament. Teams and individuals from the region who had qualified during their district tournaments came to Carrollwood to vie for a place in next week’s state tournament to be held at Mission Inn and Resort in Howie-in-the-Hills. Tampa Catholic’s lone entry in the regional was sophomore Dylan Sanchez. Unlike pro tournaments where you can look at the leader board and see where everyone stands, in high school golf you really don’t know what anyone else is scoring until after it is all over. You truly have to play the course. Dylan shot even par 72 on the day, which we knew was a pretty good score, but didn’t know if it was good enough until after all the golfers had finished. As it turns out Dylan had the 2nd lowest score of the day and thus qualified for the state tournament. Emotional High!
On Wednesday at Cleveland Heights Golf Club in Lakeland the girls’ regional washeld. Just like the boys tourney, teams and individuals from throughout the entire region descended on Lakeland to try to qualify for the state tournament. TC was represented by senior Lindsey Gonzalez. As I followed Lindsey around I knew that she was playing great golf as she was even par through 16 holes. Then on #17, a long par 5 hole, a very rare and fantastic thing happened. From about 100 yards out on her 3rd shot Lindsey lofted a shot toward the green and directly toward the hole. On what I believe were 2 bounces it went in. Yes, it went in for an eagle. Emotional high! Lindsey was now 2 under through 17 with a par 3 #18 to play. Unfortunately, what happens in sports and many times in golf you go from a great shot to a not so great tee shot as she pulled her tee shot off the green, then followed by a chip and 3 putts for a double bogie 5. Lindsey was back to even par, which we thought still gave her a great shot at qualifying. As I sat there watching them put up the scores of all the golfers I saw a 72, Lindsey had shot 73, so we had to hope for 2nd place as only 2 golfers advance. Then a Lakeland Christian golfer had her score put up, 73. We had a tie for 2nd and would have to head out for a playoff. Sudden death. The first person to win a hole. Both golfers had very good tee shots. Lindsey with a very good 2nd shot to about 20 feet of the hole, she would be putting for birdie. The Lakeland girl overshot the green and she would be chipping. Advantage Lindsey. The Lakeland girl’s chip rolls to about 2 feet from the hole. Great chip. Lindsey’s looking at a birdie putt to send her to the state. It was a makeable putt but just wasn’t meant to drop and unfortunately rolled about 3 feet past. Then the unthinkable happened, Lindsey missed the 3 footer and had to settle for bogie. The Lakeland girl ran her put in and heartbreak for all of us at TC, especially for those of us who know Lindsey. Tears flowed and some of those were mine. How could this happen to such a great girl? She qualified for states her sophomore year, but missed out last year when a wrong score was turned in by her, and now to lose in a playoff her senior year. We all were devastated for her. From Monday with Dylan advancing to state to Lindsey’s eagle on #17 to her double bogie and then losing in a playoff we all ran the gamut from emotional high to about as low as sports can take you. It was a devastating ending to a brilliant career for Lindsey, but knowing who she is life will go on and we all will be better from having watched how great of a golfer and person she is. She handled the devastation with such great class she made all of at TC so proud. I just can’t think of very many things that bring out emotions like sports. That’s what make sports so great. See you at our next sporting event. You might not want to miss the emotion of it all.